London is quite sparsely populated compared with most capital cities, so there is tremendous potential to increase housing supply. In our view, the government should be concentrating on reducing red tape and promoting housebuilding.
The vast majority of land in London is in profitable use, so placing layers of charges on development merely reduces the development value of land and often renders its existing use a better bet. This is particularly the case when stamp duty is factored in, not to mention the considerable costs and risks involved in trying to navigate the planning system.
The government’s white paper outlining how it will meet its target to build more homes is rumoured to be published in the next week or two. With the news this week that Bovis sold new homes that were unfinished in order to meet its targets, how can we ensure that quantity does not come at the expense of quality? Bovis said that no one was forced to move in before the houses were completed and that they only required some finishing touches, but homebuyers complained of windows still needing to be installed, gardens and patios not being laid, holes in roofs and ceilings, and workmen still in the house.