Jenrick savagely puts down Khan’s London Plan

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick today issued a brutal rejection of London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s London Plan, the proposed framework for development in the capital.

Much like a teacher chastising an under-achieving student, Jenrick has declared that housing delivery under Khan’s mayoralty has been “deeply disappointing” and “falls far short of what the people of London expect, deserve and need.” He goes on to blame this failure of housing delivery for “worsening affordability for Londoners”.

Key points behind the Housing Secretary’s rejection of the Plan:

• It delivers only 52,000 homes a year against the identified need of 66,000 homes.
• It is too complex and will reduce appetite for development.
• It directly contradicts national planning policies.

The tone of the letter really is remarkable in the scorn Jenrick shows. The best example is perhaps his citing of a policy on bed linen to evidence the complexity of the Plan, which Jenrick says will “make development more difficult”. He also criticises the Mayor’s flagship estate regeneration reform- the requirement of a residents’ ballot to secure grant-funding- describing it as “onerous”.

The timing of Jenrick’s letter was no doubt very deliberate. With the Mayoral election just around the corner, the Housing Secretary is robustly challenging a key plank of Khan’s re-election campaign- that the election should be a referendum on rent controls and making housing costs more affordable for Londoners. Jenrick is effectively saying to Khan that he is responsible for the affordability crisis through his failure to deliver homes.

Ironically though, given the COVID-19 crisis and the potential for the elections to be postponed until later in the year the timing may have been scuppered.

Jenrick’s conclusion is that the London Plan is not fit to be published and his direction to the Mayor is to go back to the drawing board. The Government’s view is that the Mayor has failed on housing delivery and will continue to do so with this plan- and that message has been delivered with absolutely no subtlety at all…

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