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Greater London Authority: "Barriers to Housing Delivery"

Link to report (PDF)

"Concerned to realise the considerable housing potential of the development capacity in London's planning pipeline [sic], and to explore how the construction sector can make a greater contribution to economic recovery, the Mayor commissioned independent consultants to identify the barriers to housing delivery in the capital.

"The report suggests that considerable private sector construction activity is underway, but has yet to inform official statistics. However, because nearly half the private sector capacity in the pipeline is controlled by companies who, for a range of reasons, are unlikely to actually build, [now, who might that be?] the full potential of the pipeline is unlikely to be realised. 

"This is not the only barrier to delivery. Others include the amount of new housing on individual sites which can be absorbed by local markets; funding constraints; capacity among 'active' builders and the need for consistency in the national planning regime. Of a lesser order are constraints imposed by some of the bodies involved in local and strategic planning bodies in London.

"On 8th February 2013, the Mayor proposes to hold a symposium for strategic partners in private sector housing development to discuss the consultant’s recommendations and ways of addressing them. For further details, contact jonathan.finch@london.gov.uk."


"By and large, the developers Molior interviewed had very positive things to say about local authority planners and the GLA. That isn’t to say there weren’t some gripes and moans – but the consensus seems to be that workable deals are struck eventually, and that the planning system is flexible and helpful.

"The main concern amongst developers is the speed at which the planning system operates – there is a general feeling that the planning system doesn’t appreciate that time is money.

"We are told that pre-application negotiations have become elongated. One person familiar with the way the system is working observed that planners might consider ‘time’ to be their main negotiating tool. Some planning departments are considered under staffed.

"Interviewees also commented on a perceived skills gap in some planning departments.

"A third area of concern is the range of borough specific requirements which are unhelpful. Examples would include: 
  • The requirement to replace employment space (Lewisham / Hackney) even when the space is un-lettable. 
  • The inflexibility over required affordable housing quantities (Islington). 
  • The inflexibility over affordable housing mix (Tower Hamlets). 
  • The borough’s own development standards (Islington).
"A fourth concern is the speed with which local planning policy alters following changes in national guidance. Officers seem to be too keen to stick with adopted policy when national guidance changes in favour of developers, but are quicker to react with changes in the opposite direction. One might comment that such behaviour is only natural.

"Finally, there is also evidence of what we would prefer to call ‘questionable’ local authority behaviour. To Molior as an outside observer the behaviour of a minority of planning officers is, at best, bullying. At worse … the words we would like to use would almost certainly be struck from this report by the GLA’s legal team. 

"Developers are loath to take a confrontational stance against such behaviour, as they are aware they need to continue working with the boroughs in the medium and long term. The situation is reminiscent of the kid in the playground being bullied, but not telling anyone – because if they do, they are concerned the bullying will get worse."

Link to:
"... Hammerson has planning permission for an expansion
of its shopping centre in Brent Cross, 
but it is understood conditions imposed
have made going ahead uneconomic."

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