Mayor’s new ‘small sites’ plan a boon to SME housebuilders

Mayor’s new ‘small sites’ plan a boon to SME housebuilders

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.

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% affordable housing.

The initial 10 plots of land will deliver 111 new homes, of which 68% 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 10 TfL sites go towards the Mayor’s target for 50% 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% across the portfolio will be delivered.

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.”

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.”

Richard Beresford, chief executive of the National Federation of Builders (NFB), added, “SME house builders are more likely to meet their affordable homes requirements, build homes more quickly and remain robust partners to housing associations, community land trusts, cooperatives and self-builders.

“SMEs, who typically employ within fifteen miles of their head offices, are also a perfect partner to tackle the housing crisis in our capital. Training and retaining 66% of apprentices, they are our local employers at the start and end of many people’s careers. We welcome the Mayor’s ambition to reinvigorate our sector.”

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