Sadiq Khan has defended plans to sell off Transport for London land at reduced rates, claiming the approach “does right by London”, despite claims the plans are “unrealistic” and “needlessly complex”.
Khan is set to press ahead with the sale of one patch of land at Kidbrooke in Greenwich, despite warnings his affordable housing requirements will mean it comes in below market rates.
The mayor's plans involve establishing a joint venture between TfL and property developers to circumvent rules which would require the transport company to otherwise sell at full price, with Khan's housing demands dropping the value.
Speaking at Mayor's Question Time earlier today, Khan said he was unable to release internal estimates of the discount that will apply to the site, arguing to do so “would impact ability to secure the best possible bids from development partners”.
However, he said that when compared to previous sales of TfL property at locations including Shepherd's Bush Market, Earls Court and Covent Garden, the decision to sell at discount remained the right one.
“It could be argued TfL got maximum bang for it's buck [on those sites], but when you speak to Londoners who can't afford to live in London when you visit these empty units of housing, not homes, you ask the question, 'is this really the best deal for Londoners?'
“And my answer is no. That's why I'm going to take a new approach and making sure that TfL does right by London,” Khan said.
However, Conservative London Assembly member Tony Devenish has hit out at the mayor's approach, warning plans to use joint ventures to push through development on 75 properties will make TfL “the largest housing developer in the capital”.
“This will require in-depth expertise TfL doesn't currently have and a large costly back office to support this endeavour,” Devenish said.
“London needs to increase its housing stock fast to help lower prices, yet the Mayor's approach will be slow as it's needlessly complex.
“He should just sell this land and hold the developers to account with his Mayoral powers, but instead he's wasting TfL's already stretched budget in a bid to uphold an unrealistic election pledge.”