If you're in certain areas of London, you're about to see a lot of building. Mayor Boris Johnson has announced the first nine housing zones which will get City Hall funds to improve various infrastructure to make sites more appealing — and viable — for building more houses. Which we all know London needs more of.
£260m will go towards things like a new Overground station at New Bermondsey (formerly known as Surrey Canal), improvements to the area around the new Southall Crossrail station and other station upgrades, five new schools, four new bridges, two new civic centres, a football pitch, shops, restaurants and libraries. This kind of work often needs to be done upfront to unlock an area's potential, but funding tends to come from things like Section 106 payments and community infrastructure levies — and that money comes from developers. Who won't come unless an area is worth building in. Catch 22.
With plans for infrastructure in place, the hope is that 28,000 new homes will be fast tracked — 9,000 of which will be 'affordable' (and here we insert our customary warning that 'affordable' doesn't necessarily mean what you think it does). The zones will keep their designation until 2025 and are between Abbey Wood station and Southmere Lake; Abbey Wood, Plumstead and Thamesmead (a development with Peabody Trust); Barking town centre; between Clapham Junction and Battersea riverside; Harrow, Wealdstone and Hounslow town centres; New Bermondsey; Southall; and Tottenham. Another 20 housing zones are expected to be announced later in the year.
In other housing news, if you fancy building your own home there's £5m available in City Hall's budget to help you out. It's expected to help subsidise construction costs of around 150 new properties (that's about £33k per home) on redundant commercial land. Conservative Assembly Member Gareth Bacon says it's possible to build an energy efficient home for around £50k — though what stops most self-builders is the eye-watering cost of land in this city.