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Londoners go to the polls on the 5th of May to elect a new mayor to replace Boris Johnson, but do the new candidates have an answer to the capitals greatest problem, it’s housing crisis? London has done a great job of creating opportunities and fostering talent but a poor job of housing them. Alongside this, London is continuing to grow by more than 100,000 new residents a year, so we ask who can fix the capitals housing crisis?
At first glance London is unstoppable and is seen as one of the most important cities in Europe. At a closer look the economy is becoming less productive as organisations are facing the threat of expensive housing, pushing young talent out of the capital. In order for London to continue its title as a leading global city it must attempt to combat this generations housing crisis.
“in the US, Washington is politics, LA is Hollywood, San Francisco is tech, New York is advertising and finance, but London is all of those things.”
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales
The way land is used and regulated in London and its surrounding areas has resulted in the current unsustainable state that the housing market is in. The Economist quoted that from 1993 to 2008 the cost of residential land in London increased by over 300% in real terms.
London’s population is continuing to nurture and attract skilled talent, though property prices are threatening the continuation of this attraction and retention. In the past decade London’s economy has grown twice as fast as Britain's and its population has increased 50% faster.
This has resulted in many questioning David Cameron's pledge to build a property-owning democracy. A recent survey has revealed that almost 4 in 10 residents who rent believe they will never be able to own their own home.
The housing crisis is difficult and London’s mayoral candidates have a tough situation on their hands. Firstly, there is enough green-belt land to build 1.6 million homes in London but opposition from homeowners is robust, a difficult situation for the candidates to explore. Secondly, brownfield land (land used for industrial purposes) would solve London’s problem although it would only accommodate less than half of the homes required by 2030.
Sadiq Khan, Labour’s mayoral candidate stated, “we have a housing crisis in London and for my generation of London politicians, it’s the number one issue…just to give you an idea of how bad things are: the average cost to buy a property in London is £540,000. There are now two million Londoners renting, including 700,000 children, from private landlords.”
Whoever wins this week will be very restricted in terms of the power that he or she can actually wave. Overpriced property is costing the capital the economic and human diversity that it is known for. With our European fate in the hands of the referendum on the 23rd of June, the current state of London’s leading position could be in danger of worsening if Britain decides to leave Europe.
All of the Mayoral candidates face the same difficult circumstance with the housing crisis, it is up to London to choose the most motivated candidate to push the government to make the necessary actions. If London does well, the country does well. Ultimately, two key factors effect London's housing crisis, London’s choice of Mayor and Britain’s referendum in Europe.