Will Sadiq go around the houses, or build them?

By Lawrence Coulson of RLF


Sadiq Khan has smashed the recent London Mayoral Election becoming Mayor of London on the largest personal mandate of any politician in UK history, having beaten closest rival Zac Goldsmith, by 316,000 votes. Personally, I’m jolly pleased about that. The man Sadiq replaces is busy gallivanting around, Pasty in hand; scoffing about Brexit. So I think Boris’ wonderfully entertaining reign has come to a timely end.

It’s usual for a politician to make grandiose claims during their campaign, but it is sadly unusual for such claims to be fulfilled. The former Tooting MP promised to increase investment in housing and to help housing associations ensure a minimum of 80,000 new homes a year. Mr Khan is also planning to bring forward more land owned by public bodies like TfL to be developed.

I doubt that there are any Londoners or those in the London construction and property industry that are not in support of this: more investment, more construction of new residential property, great - right!? Well in theory it is, however, Sadiq plans to make 50% of all new homes in London ‘genuinely affordable’. I don’t remember the last time I purchased something in London that was ‘genuinely affordable’.

I will side-line the usual point about the price of a pint of beer. We can name anything, for instance, a trip to the top of The Shard to stand outside and look around costs £26! It costs £26 to get in a lift and go upwards and it doesn’t even get you to the very top, there’s stairs for that! I question whether anything in London, especially housing, can ever be ‘genuinely affordable’ because the inflated cost of living and general services and commodities does not match the rate of pay for most people working in London.

In order for there to be ‘genuinely affordable’ housing in London, it would have to be heavily subsidised in a time where austerity is crippling the NHS and other public services. My point is that I don’t think genuinely affordable housing is going to come about any time soon.

However, I have not yet mentioned somewhere that is genuinely affordable in London, and that is Lidl/Aldi (different places I know, but they do the same thing). If Mr Khan can bring the model of Aldi and Lidl to the housing market, as was brought to the food market, we could find ourselves with genuinely affordable homes. We may find ourselves putting a Sainsbury’s “For Sale” sign on top of the Mayor of London in Partnership with Lidl Homes “For Sale” sign in the beginning, but we will soon proudly voice the unbelievable price at which we purchased that Lidl Home. It will likely mean that we had to queue for the home until it suddenly flew through the checkout and we had to pack it up ourselves; and they don’t offer back gardens with swimming pools like Waitrose Homes do, but you get a perfectly useable turfed back garden.

So, what am I on about? My point is that in order to supply genuinely affordable homes for Londoners without serious subsidisation; design and construction of housing stock will be standardised with a simple and standardised system of sale and purchase; most likely in a framework agreement.


How will Sadiq Khan’s Mayor’s Office supply a drastically increased number of ‘genuinely affordable’ new homes per year?

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