by Natalie Vincent Fri 9 February 2018, 11:35 am
Council representatives from London and the south of England attended the eighth annual Sitematch London event on 8 February, a business-to-business "speed-dating" event where private sector businesses meet with key council decision makers for 15 minutes, to encourage development in their respective areas.
Held at 155 Bishopsgate, 211 delegates, including 42 local authorities and public sector organisations, and developers and consultants came together to discuss building opportunities and ideas for growth across the south.
Keynote speakers at the event were: Nick Stanton OBE, director of consultancy firm Curtin&Co and former Liberal Democrat leader of Southwark Council from 2002 to 2010; James Murray, deputy mayor for housing at GLA; the RT Hon John Healey MP, shadow secretary of state for housing, and Sherin Aminossehe, director of offices at developer Lendlease, and former head of the Government Property Unit.
James Murray addressed the Draft London Plan’s annual target of housebuilding and acknowledged its challenges: "The 65,000 number is truly ambitious; it is double where we're at right now – we’re not hiding that fact – but it's a huge leap from where we are.
"Why I think it's so important for us to set out 65,000 homes a year as the capacity identified by the plan, is that it forces us to have some really tough conversations about where these homes are going to go.
"The mayor has been very clear that the green belt is going to continue to be protected under him, which means we have to confront those challenges around optimising density on all sides across London, bringing forward more small sites, even in areas where historically there hasn’t been much homebuilding."
Healey said: "Long-running problems, which in my view are exacerbated by a series of bad policy decisions particularly over the last eight years include the level of home ownership at a 33-year low; the number of under 45s who own their own home is a million fewer than in 2010.
"Homelessness which had been down to an unprecedented low level in 2010 and falling, has risen every year since; we see this especially in London but also in towns and cities across the country."
There were also three briefing sessions running concurrently with the meetings. Panels and speeches covering the private rental sector, the role of housing associations and the growth of council-owned housing companies.
Aminossehe encouraged a culture of mutual respect between the public and private sectors, to spur development, reflecting on her roles in both: "One of the things that always disturbs me is that from each move, people have said, either 'oh, you're going back into the dark side, or 'oh, I bet it was the bureaucracy'; it really made you fed up.
"To me, this is a fundamental issue, because if we think about the large-scale developments that we are here to discuss, and of land to dispose and partnerships to create, without that mutual respect and without that mutual understanding, none of those things are possible."
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