The London Land Commission (LLC), a body set up by the Mayor of London to identify public sector land that could be redeveloped into houses, says at least 130,000 new homes could be built on surplus public sector land in the capital.
The Financial Times reports that the LLC, which was set up last year with £1 million in funding and is chaired by Boris Johnson, has given the 130,000 figure as a minimum after analysing over 43,000 publicly-owned sites in London. City Hall confirmed the figures to Business Insider over email.
The LLC has produced the first ever census of land owned by public sector institutions in London. Around 25% of London is owned by public sector bodies. Here’s what that looks like, as per the LLC’s map:
Many of those sites are currently home to schools, hospitals, courts, offices, fire stations, and police stations. But some land is lying dormant.
Here’s are the dormant sites, as identified by the LLC:
The LLC says these areas could be redeveloped into housing to help alleviate the current crunch in the capital. London’s population is set to hit 10 million by 2030, according to the FT, and 50,000 houses a year are needed to meet that demand.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson says in an emailed statement:
There is an urgent need in London for more homes for our ever growing population and for far too long, land owned by public bodies has lain dormant or sold off with no benefit to the capital. That simply must not be allowed to happen and we must build on the work done at City Hall in releasing land for development.
Richard Blakeway, London’s deputy mayor for housing, told the FT that the 130,000 figure is just a “starting point” and could rise once further analysis is carried out.
Blakeway told the FT:
We have been trying to identify clusters of public land which are close to regeneration areas, close to new infrastructure that we’re putting in, and where there might be some marriage value between public owners.
Of course there’s a big difference between saying this land could be developed and saying it will be. A disparate group including the NHS, councils, government departments, and Transport for London own much of the land identified and it is up to them to decide whether to put any of it up for development.
But the LLC is hoping this “Domesday Book” of public ownership will at least spur the conversation and encourage public authorities to consider doing something with surplus land.
Under Boris Johnson, City Hall has already sold off 414 hectares of developable land, with plans to build 50,000 new homes across the sites. The land has been sold with strings attached that mean the land reverts back to City Hall if homes are not built within a certain time frame.
The Mayor’s office is encouraging any public bodies that own so-called “brownfield land” they are keen to develop to pursue a similar model of sale to ensure more housing stock is actually developed.