A small site building pilot programme has been launched in London with the aim of using smaller builders and increasing the number of genuinely affordable new homes.
Two locations have been selected for the pilot and London Mayor Sadiq Khan has instructed Transport for London to bring forward 10 of its small sites for development, with capacity ranging from between two and 42 homes.
The land will be made more accessible for smaller builders through a simple bidding process with standardised legal contracts, and two of the sites will be dedicated specifically to community led housing groups.
The first plots of publicly owned land to be used are at Cable Street near the Shadwell DLR in Tower Hamlets, and a site at Christchurch Road in Lambeth. Both are earmarked for community led housing and will deliver 100% affordable housing.
Overall the initial 10 plots of land will deliver 111 new homes of which 68% will be affordable and the Mayor’s team has begun discussions with other public sector landowners about using their small sites for housing too.
A review of the new process for bringing forward the 10 TfL pilot sites will be carried out to determine how and when the programme can be used by other public land owners in the capital.
The Mayor’s new small sites programme will contribute to affordable housing delivery on public land in London. The 10 TfL sites go towards the Mayor’s target for 50% affordable housing across its portfolio on sites brought forward since he took office. Levels of affordable housing on individual sites will vary whilst ensuring the Mayor’s direction for 50% across the portfolio will be delivered.
Small and medium sized builders are needed to help provide the 66,000 new homes needed each year in London, according to Barry Mortimer, director of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) London.
He pointed out that FMB research shows that a lack of available and viable land is the main barrier to small builders delivering more new homes. ‘Indeed, over half of SME house builders believe that the number of small sites available is decreasing,’ he said.
‘This move by the Mayor of London will help bring forward a small number of small sites across the capital and give SME builders the land they are crying out for. This is a step in the right direction but if we are to address London’s housing shortage, we need many more of these initiatives going forward,’ he added.
Since becoming Mayor Khan has worked with his transport agency to accelerate the release of its land for development. Last year, TfL signed contracts to develop more than 1,000 homes, half of which will be affordable. This year, TfL is on track to bring forward land for at least 3,000 new homes.
‘For far too long, London’s housing market has been over reliant on large developers building the majority of our homes on large brownfield sites. The number of small sites coming forward has halved in the last decade, and we have lost almost a third of all small and medium-sized homebuilders operating in the capital,’ said Khan.
‘Through my new small sites programme, I want to make more public land available to help contribute not only to tackling the housing crisis in London, but also to reinvigorating our small and medium sized home building sector. I also want to provide more opportunities for Community Land Trusts, which is why I have earmarked two sites specifically for community led housing,’ he pointed out.
‘I am leading the way by bringing forward TfL sites to pilot my new approach, and I want to offer a real opportunity for small builders and community led housing groups to play their part in building the new and genuinely affordable homes Londoners so desperately need,’ he added.
According to Graeme Craig, director of commercial development at Transport for London, as one of the biggest landowners in London TfL in an ideal position to help provide the homes that London desperately needs, deliver genuinely affordable homes and generate revenue to reinvest in the transport network.
‘We’re excited to be working with the Mayor to make our smaller sites available to small and medium size developers, housing associations and community led organisations and these ten, at locations across London, are the first of a number of small sites that we’ll be bringing to market,’ he said.