Mayor launches small homebuilders programme with TfL pilot sites

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has launched a programme to pilot bringing forward small publicly owned sites to boost the capital’s small homebuilders sector and increase the supply of new and genuinely affordable homes.

London’s homebuilding sector is dominated by a small number of large developers that build the majority of homes across the capital, with the number of small builders delivering fewer than 100 homes having halved over the last 10 years.

Through his ‘Small Sites, Small Builders’ programme, Sadiq wants to make small plots of publicly-owned land more accessible to London’s small and medium-sized builders. To pilot his new approach, the Mayor 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.

Land at Cable Street, near the Shadwell DLR in Tower Hamlets, and a site at Christchurch Road in Lambeth, will both be earmarked for community-led housing and will deliver 100 per cent affordable housing.

The initial 10 plots of land will deliver 111 new homes, of which 68 per cent will be affordable.

The Mayor’s team has begun discussions with other public sector landowners about using their small sites for housing too, and 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 per cent 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 per cent across the portfolio will be delivered.

Since becoming Mayor, Sadiq 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.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:

“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.

“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 homebuilding 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.

“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.”

Graeme Craig, Director of Commercial Development at Transport for London, said:

“As one of the biggest landowners in London we’re 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.”

Cllr Rachel Blake, Lead Member for Strategic Development and Waste, LB Tower Hamlets, said:

 “I welcome that Tower Hamlets has been chosen as one of the pilots for the ‘Small Sites, Small Builders programme’ by the Mayor of London.

“Community Land Trusts offer hope to Londoners who are priced out of London’s broken housing market.  They bring communities together at the same time as building permanently affordable homes.

“Tower Hamlets is looking forward to working with the Local Community Land Trust on this project, and I hope the pilots lead the way to more opportunities for delivering new homes in London.”

Barry Mortimer, Director of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) London, said:

“If we are to build the 66,000 new homes we need each year in London we need to unlock the potential of small and medium sized (SME) house builders. Research by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) 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. We therefore welcome this move by the Mayor of London, which 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.”

Father Richard Springer, London Citizens leader and Parish Priest, St George-in-the-East, said:

“We are very excited about this terrific news. Members of the local churches, mosques and schools have been campaigning together for these much needed genuinely and permanently affordable community land trust homes. This will mean that families in this neighbourhood can stay together. It will make a huge difference to people who live around Cable Street as well as undoubtedly on the south London site in Christchurch Road. This shows what is possible when local communities organise and make their voices heard.”

Bethan Lant, London CLT resident at St Clements, said:

“This time last year, we were crammed into a flat far too small for us. My son and daughter shared the only bedroom we had and I had to sleep in the living room. This summer, we were lucky enough to get allocated a Community Land Trust home in St Clements, in Mile End. We no longer have to choose between living in the neighbourhood we love and my children having the space they need to grow and be happy. It’s great to know that other families will now have the same opportunity as us.”