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Steve Norris: Addressing London's housing challenge

Steve Norris is a former Conservative MP and twice stood against Ken Livingstone as the party's candidate for London Mayor.


The scale of London’s housing crisis is frightening. 

It is far more of an issue in the capital than anywhere else in Britain.  And that’s because although the rest of the world thinks London is rich it’s actually a city of stark contrast. 

In the west, per capita GDP is 400% of the national average.  It is home to some of the most expensive real estate in the world.  But east London sees per capita GDP at just 75% of the national average – and that in a city where the cost of living generally is higher than anywhere else in the country. 

So we have a problem and it is good that whoever is Mayor on the 4th of May will now have more power to do something about the problem.  Bringing together government grant, the former Homes and Communities Agency London division and the now defunct London Development Agency’s land holdings in the new Mayoral Development Corporation is a real opportunity for change. 

Throw in the ability to rationalise the land which Transport for London and the Metropolitan Police Authority own and we have a powerful agent for improvement.   But the MDC has many challenges of which building homes is only one and that is why I support Shelter’s campaign to establish Homes for London within the GLA family to lobby central government at every turn on behalf of the tens of thousands of Londoners who desperately need decent housing, to come up with a contract form that gives landlords and tenants alike the long term security that is so important in particular to families and to chase down and name and shame the rogue landlords who routinely fail their tenants. 

Shelter’s idea of a London Lettings Service which would give honest advice to landlords and tenants alike on a not for profit basis is also one that should be followed up by whoever is Mayor.  Some times it seems as if the problem is just too big for anyone to tackle.  But the Homes for London campaign is a great way to start.


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