Andrew Boff is a member of the London Assembly.
London is on the verge of a housing revolution. We have the chance to make history by providing accommodation that Londoners want and need for generations to come.
But if we are to maximise our capital’s housing potential, we need to look beyond just the major developers and look at more innovative solutions.
One of these opportunities lies in small and self-builders.
The development of land is never as simple as just handing a large contract to a major developer. Pockets of a particular site can lie in the hands of various private and public owners, muddying the boundaries and terms of a major build.
A prime example of this is the Old Oak Common regeneration site, where the government has pledged to build 25,500 new homes over the coming decades.
It is imperative we ensure small building firms and self-builders are given the opportunity to secure some of this land that may otherwise be wasted or overlooked by major developers.
London is a diverse city and one that requires a varied housing stock. This cannot be provided by major developers alone.
This week I pressed the Mayor to open up the Old Oak Common development to these smaller firms and individuals and he agreed the project presented a good opportunity for them to throw their hat into the ring.
However it is not enough to simply invite them to bid for certain projects. We need to go out of our way to encourage a broader number of developers to be active in our city.
Indeed, if we are going to provide the kind of homes that London wants then we are going to have to get more people involved in building houses.
As well as providing jobs and boosting London’s building economy, these initiatives give first-time buyers an opportunity to get on the housing ladder.
In our report ‘Gap in the Market’ we identified as many as 4,552 redundant sites in just 13 London boroughs.
Given the right support, these sites could be exploited by small and self-builders, providing around 10,000 new homes over the next decade and regenerating a large number of run down spaces.
The Mayor and the Government have opened up opportunities on the Old Oak Common site for the direct commissioning of new homes on what is public land – this must be applauded.
What is needed now is a renewed focus on how best to provide the varied accommodation that London requires in the most effective way.
I will be continuing to press to make sure that small and self-builders are a priority consideration in this area.
By continuing to look at these innovative ideas for London’s housing solutions, our city has an optimistic future.