All the Labour candidates for Mayor of London are committed to increasing the number of homes that are built in the capital. Tessa Jowell, amongst others, has called for the creation of a new agency ‘Homes for London’ to “take the lead, building thousands of homes that Londoners can afford on the vast swathes of land that the Mayor owns”
Tessa has a number of ideas for how this agency would London get building. These include:
- Building directly on land the mayor owns
- Training more Londoners in construction skills and,
- Using planning powers to require affordable home ownership is part of new developments
These ideas will be familiar to many, partly because various voices have been advocating them for a number of years. But if these ideas are so good, why haven’t they been implemented?
Perhaps one of the reasons is that we haven’t had the right leader. Certainly a number of Tessa Jowell’s backers have made great play of her ability to get things done. For example, the NewStatesman, in their endorsement of her, refer to her track record moving both Sure Start and the Olympics from the drawing board into reality.
However, there is more to getting houses built than a strong and experienced Mayor (although that would certainly be a start). Alinsky’s famous quote springs to mind:
the problems facing inner-city communities do not result from a lack of effective solutions, but from a lack of power to implement these solutions
If the next Mayor is going to oversee a dramatic increase in the rate of housebuilding in London, they will need more than effective solutions. They will need to design an approach and strategy that brings together a coalition powerful enough to overcoming the obstacles that have so far prevented these much needed homes from being built.
Fortunately, next week’s blog post will outline exactly what such a strategy might look like. Watch this space.