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Is Boris Johnson using housing policy as an election stunt?

The Mayor of London says he wants to build 42,000 new homes a year for the next two decades but is this just a great sound bite or could it actually happen?

November 26, 2013

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In his words: “This city has failed for a generation or more to keep pace with demand. For the last 30 years we have probably built about half of the homes London needs and the problem is now a crisis.”

We agree – the UK as a whole hasn’t been building enough housing for over 20 years and someone needs to do something about it – but is Bojo the man to trust to sort out London’s housing crisis?

OK, we don’t doubt he can deliver houses, we know he’s got the influence and the Conservatives have never been shy about cosying up to the UK’s house builders.

But is that going to result in more homes? And by homes we mean properties that actual people can afford to buy and then live in, rather than buy as an investment and leave empty for 50 weeks a year or rent out to people who will never afford to buy.

One of the barriers to Londoners owning homes is foreign investment – that’s not a revolutionary statement, don’t worry, we’ve checked.

But Boris seems to think that’s not a problem – he says overseas buyers help get these schemes off the ground. Hang on Boris, that’s exactly what you’d say if you were trying to spin a dodgy scheme before the mayoral election, isn’t it?

Well, maybe. But he has proposed a ban on London developers marketing properties overseas before they’ve offered them to Londoners.

Which is great, but with flats going on the market for £3m, it doesn’t look like London properties are going to be in the hands of Londoners any time soon.

Henry Pryor (who’s still one of our favourite property commentators even though he’s been having a go at our call to scrap VAT on home improvements this week) had this to say to the Guardian:

“It’s unlikely there will be homegrown British buyers queuing up to buy £30m penthouses in a converted power station.

“But there will be many abroad who – provided the government doesn’t frighten them away with talk of rising taxes – might well want a view of Chelsea and Westminster.”

We’d love to disagree with you Henry but we’re afraid you might be right.

Read more on the UK’s Housing news

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