Memorandum submitted by the Mayor of London (H&R 9)
The Mayor's Housing Strategy
1. It is essential that the new Homes and Community Agency (HCA) supports the Mayor of London's new and existing housing and planning powers. The Bill must clearly establish a relationship between the HCA as the delivery body, and the Greater London Authority (GLA) as the strategic housing and planning lead in the capital - effectively building on the relationship already established between the Mayor and the Housing Corporation in the 2007 GLA Act.
2. Under the Greater London Authority Act 2007, the Housing Corporation is obliged to "have regard to" the statutory Mayor's Housing Strategy. The HCA should clearly be subject to the same requirement.
Conservative amendment - Number 5
3. The Mayor supports the principle behind this amendment to Part 1 of the Bill which seeks to amend Clause 35 of the Bill by adding on page 15, at the end of line 41, "In exercising its powers under sections 31 to 47 the HCA shall have regard to the powers of the Mayor under sections 333A TO 333D of the Greater London Authority Act 1999" but believes that this does not go far enough.
4. The purpose of this amendment is to ensure that the requirement on the Housing Corporation to "have regard to" the Mayor's Housing Strategy is transferred to the HCA. This was a key element of the GLA Act 2007, which gave the Mayor a clear strategic lead on housing policy and, through the "have regard to" clause, created the link between the Mayor's Housing Strategy and the delivery of the affordable housing budget. It is vital that the HCA inherits this requirement. The Government has indicated that this is its intention.
5. However, whilst the Mayor supports the aims of the amendment, he is concerned that it only seeks to require that the HCA should have regard to the Mayor's Housing Strategy when exercising its powers under a limited part of the Bill. For consistency and clarity, and in order not to undermine London's unique governance arrangements:
(i) the HCA should have regard to the Mayor's Housing Strategy when it exercises any functions or power under Part 1 of the Bill, in London (including but not limited to housing investment);
(ii) the HCA should have regard, as appropriate, to other statutory Mayoral strategies such as the London Plan. (These strategies have been agreed with Government and have statutory force, so must clearly guide the HCA's activities in London).
HCA planning powers
6. The HCA is also expected to take on a number of planning powers. It is important that in London these do not conflict with the positive planning powers of the Mayor, which the Government has agreed are essential to driving up the supply of new housing in London. The London Plan provides the spatial framework within which the HCA should operate in the capital. There should be no designation orders applied to areas in London without extensive consultation with the Mayor.
Regulation of social housing
7. The Mayor will also take an interest in the activities of the new housing regulator and would expect to be consulted about social housing standards, reflecting the fact that strategic housing is now a devolved matter in London.
8. The Housing and Regeneration Bill establishes the HCA, which will incorporate the Housing Corporation's investment powers with English Partnerships' powers as a regeneration agency. It will be the primary delivery body for housing and regeneration in England.
9. The Government and the Mayor share a common aim: delivering the homes that our communities need, and shaping places that people want to live. The acute housing challenges faced by the capital were recognised in the GLA Act - this Bill must now back this up by equipping the HCA and the regulator to work with the Mayor to deliver for London.
10. The GLA Act 2007 put in place a framework of housing and planning powers to enable the Mayor to deliver the homes and infrastructure a thriving capital city needs. This builds on the progress already made since the Mayor was elected:
o Housing delivery has risen to over 27,000 new homes last year, compared with 17,000 in the year before the Mayor was elected - an increase of 60 per cent.
o The Mayor's target that 50 per cent of all new housing should be affordable has meant that increased supply also means more affordable homes for Londoners.
o The draft Mayor's Housing Strategy, published in September, sets out ambitious targets to continue driving up housing supply, including 50,000 new affordable homes in London over the next three years.