Michael Gove takes aim at Labour mayor Sadiq Khan over housebuilding in London

Michael Gove has attacked Sadiq Khan’s record on house building while threatening to strip the Labour mayor of his planning powers.

The Housing Secretary wants a review of London’s current housing plan with a threat to remove Mr Khan’s powers over planning if he does not agree to the changes.

During a speech at the Royal Institute of British Architects, Mr Gove said councils that “delay or deny” legitimate housebuilding will be stripped of powers.

He singled out London as one of the key areas the Government would be targeting.

Mr Gove said: “Radical action is required in London, where the homes we need are simply not being built.

“In the last three years the average number of net additional dwellings provided by the Mayor has been just 38,000. That is 15,000 fewer homes every year than the Mayor’s own target in his London Plan….

“London has the lowest level of home ownership in the country….We are pumping billions of pounds of central Government money into building affordable homes in London but the Mayor’s approach is frustrating delivery.

“I am strongly in favour of affordable housing. But his requirement for such a high percentage of affordable homes in every new development imposes such significant costs that development does not go ahead – and so we get no new homes – and no new affordable homes.”

A source close to Ms Khan insisted Londoners will not be fooled by “desperate distraction tactics” from the Government.

They added: “Sadiq’s record of delivery speaks for itself: since he became Mayor, London has outbuilt the rest of the country and is building more new council homes than any time since the 1970s.

“The Mayor will take no lessons from a Government – and a housing minister in Michael Gove – that have such a shameful record and have repeatedly intervened to block the new housing the capital desperately needs.”

The Government will name and shame local councils by publishing “robust league tables” on their planning system, the Housing Secretary announced.

In the speech on planning reform, Mr Gove said: “We will publish league tables revealing the real performance of local planning authorities, the speed with which they respond, the level of approvals, their delivery against targets.

“We will ensure that these tables reflect how the system is gamed at the moment by some.”

The tables will show which councils are genuinely issuing planning approvals, and also identify good practice.

Mr Gove has ordered a number of “NIMBY” – the not in my backyard – councils to provide him with their plans for improving house building in their area within a year.

The government will give local authorities three months to come up with plans to meet the housing needs in their area. Those that fail could have developments forced upon their area, and councillors could also be stripped of their powers to delay applications.

Victoria Vyvyan, president of the Country Land and Business Association, said: “Unless some villages can build a small number of homes, young people will be driven out of the countryside and more of our schools, businesses and community spaces risk closing for good.

“Tackling existing council delays is important. But without more ambitious targets, the rural housing crisis will continue to hold back the countryside and the life chances of those who call it home. As ever the needs of rural communities, particularly young people, have been ignored.”

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