Developers manipulating planning system, says London Assembly committee


The London Assembly’s cross-party planning committee says the planning system is being too easily manipulated to maximize developer profits.

In a letter to the Mayor, the committee suggests some developers are deliberately paying too much for land in order to make providing affordable housing unviable, with some hiding behind confidential viability assessments. The committee is also concerned some developers are overvaluing their costs and undervaluing the final scheme’s value.

As a result it is calling for Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) on viability assessments in London. The committee’s letter recommends:

  • Measuring the value of land according to its existing value, rather than its potential value if developed into, eg, luxury flats
  • Promoting the idea that developers should be open and transparent in publishing their deals
  • Developing planners’ skills and setting an example on public land to challenge false assumptions that affordable housing is too costly to build
  • Extending new fixed minimum affordable housing targets to major developments in London
  • Ensuring future public sector land identified through the London Land Commission is developed with a view to maximising delivery of affordable housing.

Nicky Gavron, chair of the London Assembly planning committee, said: “The best developers see their contribution to affordable housing positively.

“Disappointingly the committee has heard real evidence that some developers are gaming the system, leading to an escalation of land values, resulting in rising rents and higher house prices. If we’re to get out of the housing crisis, the next Mayor needs to show real leadership and encourage developers to build homes for Londoners of all walks of life.”

The full letter is here.

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