Dave Hill | The Guardian: Wanted: “muscular, interventionist” London mayor to boost “build to rent”

The boss of one of London’s most prestigious property estates wants City Hall to help expand and transform private renting in the capital

London’s absurdly high and rising housing costs cause an array of problems for the city and a vast range of its people, from the poor and low paid to middle income professionals in private and public sectors alike. The growth of the private rental sector (PRS) is a symptom of the problem – about 30% of London households are now accommodated by it compared with less than 20% at the start of the century. Can it also be part of the solution?

At last week’s PRS Forum, an annual conference for industry players and sages, Grosvenor Estate chief executive Peter Vernon argued that it can. His speech to delegates at 155 Bishopsgate concisely outlined the potential for many more homes to be built in London specifically for private rent. For years, wise wonks have tried without great success to persuade more big investors to sink cash into “build-to-rent,” but Vernon thinks a breakthrough might be in sight. He quoted British Property Federation figures suggesting there’s around £30bn out there that will be looking for the right opportunities over the next five years. He then highlighted two of the various things he thinks are needed to “catalyse this market.” Here’s the first:

A step change increase in the supply of developable land. With others, I believe this will require, in London, a muscular, interventionist mayor; a mayoral delivery body that identifies, assembles and designates sites for development, maximising the potential of public land and using CPO [compulsory purchase] powers if necessary, that puts in place the necessary infrastructure and then sells plots to those who want to build, sub-dividing larger sites to accelerate delivery.

I believe we need a clear and unambiguous planning policy for build-for-rent. At present, build-for-rent investors and developers just don’t know where they stand in London. The GLA has a draft but broad policy statement which each borough is interpreting differently. This ambiguity is creating a stand-off between the planning authorities and the private sector and holding back the investment of substantial private capital. I think we need a clear, city-wide framework that recognises that the economics of building rental homes is different from building homes for sale, and therefore requires a different approach.

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via Dave Hill | The Guardian http://ift.tt/1nb0RNM

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