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A City Hall Developer And A Wish For Rent Control: Sadiq Khan’s New Mayoral Manifesto

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London Mayor Sadiq Khan

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan unveiled on Wednesday his new manifesto ahead of the London mayoral elections in May — with a big focus on housing and property.

Khan, the incumbent, is well ahead in the polls and a big favourite among bookies to be re-elected. Here are the key policies the property industry needs to know about.

City Hall Will Become A Developer

Khan pledged to set up a London City Hall-owned development company, to help him hit his 2016 target of building 116,000 affordable homes by 2022, and a new pledge of building 10,000 new council homes over the next four years. The new developer would start in pilot form building on land owned by the Greater London AuthorityInside Housing reported. No target was outlined for the new developer. The Greater London Council, the predecessor to the Greater London Authority, was a significant housebuilder in London before its abolition in 1986. Khan’s Conservative and Liberal Democratic rivals in the mayoral race have made the same pledge. 

Green Revolution 

A big part of Khan’s manifesto relates to climate change and carbon emissions, and he outlines a 10-point plan to make London a greener city. Point one of this is committing London to be a net-zero carbon neutral city by 2030. Details at this point are sketchy, but some of the other points outline how property will be expected to play its part in this. Most significant is a commitment to retrofitting existing properties rather than building new ones where possible, to cut down on "embodied carbon," the carbon emitted by a building in the creation and transportation of construction materials, as opposed to the carbon emitted during its operation. He said that developers will be required to count embodied carbon when declaring the carbon emissions of a building, not just the operational emissions so that the full carbon output of a building is accounted for.

Banging The Drum For Rent Control …

Khan said that he will “continue to fight” for London’s right to impose private sector rent control, to help fight inequalities in the rental market he said had been exacerbated by the coronavirus. The reason he is fighting for the policy, rather than just imposing it, is only the central government has the power to impose rent controls. Khan has for some years been lobbying the Conservative government, with no obvious success. 

… And Use It Or Lose It Powers

The same is true of Khan’s desire to have the power to force developers to build on land with planning permission within a certain time period or lose that right to build. He will “push the government to devolve new ‘use-it-or-lose it’ powers,” he said in the manifesto.

First Dibs For City Hall On TfL Land

Transport for London has its own significant development program, but Khan pledged that his housing and land directorate, which executes his housing policies, will be given the right of first refusal land surplus to this program that is suitable for housing development.