Mayor of London to prioritise housing for key workers
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is to recognise the service and sacrifice made by key workers during the Coronavirus pandemic by backing them to be first in the queue for thousands of new and genuinely affordable homes being built across the capital.
The list will include nurses and other NHS staff as well as police officers, transport workers, firefighters and teachers. A new expectation detailed in planning guidance will mean boroughs use this list to give people in these occupations priority access to buy or rent homes at below market rates. Local authorities will also be able to add occupations to the core list to reflect local needs.
Future Cities Forum will include discussion of key worker housing in its April 'Science Cities' event where the balance and master planning of new hospital and research buildings is weighed in tandem with the need for well designed homes for those workers who support innovation and health in our cities.
In January this year the forum looked at the provision of university key worker homes at Eddington in Cambridge, Oxford's Local Plan 2036 and the need to widen our understanding of what constitutes a 'key worker' and the London Borough of Southwark's ongoing conversations with Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Trust. Concern for attracting talent to science cities such as Oxford and Cambridge was voiced by science park owner Biomed Realty, while architecture firm BDP stated that the pandemic had pushed forward the idea of more flexible plans for key workers to be able to live near science labs in the future. Building two storeys above 1970's blocks was suggested by architects Scott Brownrigg to create key worker homes that wouldn't interfere with heritage issues while David Lock Associates argued for the value of collecting data to show how office development can bring in the need for more homes.
Last December our forum invited Sir Steve Bullock, Chair of SPACE (Pan-London Collaborative Enterprise) and Chair of Sutton Housing Partnership, as well as TfL, Chapman Taylor Architects and Bell Phillips Architects. The panel discussed different strategies for new homes across London and the UK in 2021, covering the role of public sector organisations as 'developer-in-chief', factory built and modular homes and temporary housing solutions for the homeless.
The new London-wide list is in response to a wider consultation on the role of intermediate housing in London in the wake of the pandemic. Intermediate housing is identified as affordable housing which is targeted at people who are unlikely to access homes at social rent levels. but who are not able to afford to buy or rent a suitable home on the open market. The two types of intermediate homes preferred by the Mayor are London Shared Ownership and London Living Rent - these are the homes to which key workers will now be given priority access.
Planning guidance will be strengthened to enforce the expectation that key workers should be prioritised, with regard to local need, if local authorities and housing providers choose to set additional prioritisation criteria for the first three months of marketing new intermediate homes.
The Mayor will also continue to champion schemes in which landowners, housing providers and local authorities have successfully worked together to deliver homes that are provided exclusively for local key workers, such as the accommodation provided at the St Ann's Hospital site in Haringey which was purchased by the Mayor using his Land Fund in 2018.
The number of shared ownership homes completed in the year to end of March 2020 was 3,111 - more than double the 1,489 total achieved in the year ending March 2016.
The Mayor believes that the successful implementation of this policy in London could act as an example for ministers to follow and adopt as a nationwide policy so that all key workers receive the recognition and housing they deserve.
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said:
'London's key workers are the lifeblood of our city and we all depend on their hard work every day...Making it easier for key workers to live in the city they serve with such dedication is the very least they deserve.'
Chair of the G15 group of London's largest housing associations and chief executive of Network Homes, Helen Evans said:
'The G15 sully supports the Mayor's aim of ensuring London's key workers have access to the safe, secure and affordable homes they deserve.'
Royal College of Nursing Regional Director for London, Lisa Elliott said:
'The health care system in London is missing nearly 8,500 nurses in the NHS and thousands more in social care. This means the capital's health and care services are beyond stretched, placing huge pressure on nursing staff on the ground and severely affecting the system's ability to provide safe and effective care for Londoners. London simply cannot afford to lose any more nursing staff.'