The Capital Club was delighted to host Phillip Glanville, the Mayor of Hackney, at its second breakfast discussion meeting on 19 September. Hosted by Chris Hayward and once again attended by London’s housing and planning industry leaders, Phillip gave a great insight into Hackney’s current housing situation and the specific challenges facing his borough.
The discussion initially focused on the problems that currently face the capital’s housing market. The steep drop in spending on affordable housing was outlined which has placed thousands of families on the waiting list for accommodation. It was described how this, in turn, is placing a huge stress on the social services system and the families themselves.
The discussion then turned to how developers can work with local government in London, as it was argued that neither side could solve the housing crisis alone. Local authorities need to work alongside developers, rather than against one another.
It was argued that there had to be a fluid mixture of new properties built, and that all building and planning had to be conducted in close communication with existing residents. It was pointed out that, with the buy in from residents at the start of the planning process, the process of development becomes far smoother.
The diversity of Hackney was discussed, along with the challenges that this diversity can bring to development policy. Whilst this was acknowledged to be a problem at times, it was also suggested that the housing crisis had developed a degree of solidarity between communities when it comes to development. Namely, nobody is exempt from the steep rise inhouse prices, and now far more residents recognise the need for more, denser volume housing.
Affordable housing was also discussed at length, with a specific focus on the targets outlined at the GLA and national level. The possibility of a flat rate of affordable housing was discussed to create a ‘level playing field’. However, it was argued that flexibility can assist developers. One example of this was how the % of affordable housing on a scheme could be lowered if the scheme includes sites of benefit to the local community. There were worries expressed that having a flat 50% requirement of affordable housing was setting developers and local authorities up to fail.
The recent changes to national housing targets were also discussed, and were largely agreed to be arbitrary, ill-informed and unlikely to be fulfilled. The ability of London boroughs to hit increased targets was questioned, along with a complete lack of consultation between national and local government around how these new targets were created.