Mayor's office mulls 'hard-to-avoid' 35% affordable rate

City Hall is considering plans for a non-negotiable 35 per cent rate of affordable housing for private sector schemes in the capital, London's new deputy mayor for planning has indicated.

Jules Pipe: deputy mayor for planning
Jules Pipe: deputy mayor for planning

In an interview with Estates Gazette, Jules Pipe, who was appointed as London's deputy mayor for planning, regeneration and skills at the end of June, agreed that a flat 35 per cent affordable housing target for certain types of development would help to remove uncertainty over viability.

He said: "It is certainly a possibility and I know that it is being looked at both by City Hall and by boroughs.

"It is just one possible solution, but it would be good if we can come to some sort of easily understandable, hard-to-avoid contribution rate that avoids all these endless disputes and turns it into a bit of an industry for people to represent sides in these arguments."

Pipe added: "[The Community Infrastructure Levy] seems to have cut through that in a positive way. If we can do something to the same effect with housing 106 contributions that would be a good thing. The exact mechanism though, we've got to make sure it works, that there are no unforeseen circumstances that are unhelpful."

London mayor Sadiq Khan has pledged a 50 per cent affordable housing target, but his deputy mayor for housing, James Murray, has stated that the goal would be a long-term strategic target, rather than being applied on a site-by-site basis.

Pipe told Estates Gazette that it is "inevitable that there would be give and take".

"Particularly the fact that there are already projects in the pipeline that, because of where they are today, it is going to be next to impossible to renegotiate and get them to where we would all like them to be," he said.

Murray last month said that the mayor's team is "keen to get some supplementary planning guidance out ... to give certainty to the development industry on the requirements and processes around affordable housing".

Murray said that the guidance would be published "sooner than the timescale associated with a full London Plan review" and would address the "concern that people have over the confusion arising from viability assessments".

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