Candidate Shaun Bailey says former employment land should be released for new homes

The Conservatives’ London mayoral candidate has told property bosses that he would review the capital’s brownfield employment sites to see if they can be released for housing.


Shaun Bailey (pictured), who is the main challenger to incumbent Labour mayor Sadiq Kahn at the mayoral election on 7 May, said at business umbrella body London First’s annual property conference last week that eating into the capital’s green belt could be avoided by using brownfield land better.

He said there should be more focus on employment sites because London’s industrial needs have changed, and more development can be delivered on them.

“The idea we can’t look at them is ridiculous. There are enough brownfield sites in London so we don’t have to build in the green belt,” he said.

Bailey also signalled he would include low-cost for-sale homes in his target for affordable housing if he were to be elected.

“You need a planning authority in City Hall prepared to do a deal and understand there are other ways of reaching the 50% [affordable housing] target.

“Slavishly holding onto the way things are built now has delivered less housing and not more. Best value is not always the most money you can scrape out of the land; it is the most housing you can deliver across the board for Londoners to rent and own.”

The affordable housing target could include a “certain amount” of for-sale properties, probably in the £260,000 to £310,000 price range, he said.

“You could give that part of the market support to deliver on small sites where there is good infrastructure and has been no building traditionally,” he stated.

And Bailey criticised Khan for not meeting overall housing delivery targets. The current London Plan states the capital needs to build 42,000 homes a year, while Khan’s draft plan increases that figure to 56,000. Last year there were just over 36,000 net additional homes created in the capital.

Bailey said: “Whatever the figure is, we are nowhere near it. When politicians tell you they are going to deliver in the current system, at best that is hope over experience, and at worst a bit of lie.”

Combined with setting up an agency called Homes for London, he said his approach would cut the risks surrounding securing planning consents in the capital.

Turning to transport issues, Bailey warned that London is at risk of losing Crossrail 2 due to the delays and budgetary overspending on the first phase of the cross-London line.

He said “My goal would be to get those projects back on track, will be repairing Transport for London’s finances and delivering projects with revenue uplift first. We are at real risk of losing Crossrail 2,which would be an absolute calamity.”

Khan’s track record on housing was defended by James Murray, MP for Ealing North, who before his election in December was deputy mayor for housing at the Greater London Authority.

He said that Khan had increased the delivery of affordable housing, including social housing that had been abandoned during his predecessor Boris Johnson’s eight-year spell at City Hall.

And Murray defended the radical housing policy stance taken by Labour at the last general election, which he said Khan would maintain.

“London needs a bold approach. Where the status quo as it is now, we can’t continue forever. We have to have a change and have a housing policy that responds more directly to people’s needs and builds the homes that people need, so continuing in that direction of policy is the right thing to do.”