What is Boris Johnson talking about? London needs new homes, not ‘assets’

Instead of addressing the housing crisis, the capital’s Mayor actually celebrates it

Share

Like crime in a multi-storey car park, London Mayor Boris Johnson’s analysis of what is wrong with London’s housing market is, as the award-winning joke has it, wrong on so many levels. Foreign investors, mainly from the Far East, are currently buying around 70 per cent of all newly-built homes in inner London, for record prices. Boris’s exoneration of them of all blame for the massive increases in the prices of those homes is a bit like failing to relate guns with gun-related crime.

He talks of “the anger of professional people who cannot live in districts where their parents grew up, and who cannot see how their kids will ever be able to afford to buy in London”. But instead of addressing this crisis he actually celebrates it. “London is now globally recognised as such a desirable city that its property is treated effectively as another asset class,” the Mayor wrote this week. “A safe investment in a turbulent world”. And yes, this has “buoyed property values”, but hey, that’s a small price to pay for London’s standing in the world. And besides, “we can build hundreds of thousands of homes for rent, for affordable rent, for market sale and for part-buy-part-rent”.

Oh, we can, can we? Well in that case, Mr Mayor, why have we not done so yet? And why would anyone build affordable homes for Londoners when they can make so much more money building over-priced ones for citizens of distant shores?

I haven’t noticed Boris criticising developers for offering their latest inner London schemes in the Far East before they go on sale to Londoners. And I don’t recall him protesting when flats in two yet unbuilt tower blocks in Stratford went on sale in Singapore with the comforting assurance of “NO SOCIAL HOUSING”.

The solution to the housing crisis is, as we all agree, to build more. But most of the 30,000-odd homes currently in the inner London pipeline will be priced at least twice as high as those in areas nearby, and marketed in faraway lands of which we know little.

The inevitable result will be for all prices in those adjacent areas to quickly rise to match the new. Their owners will be sorely tempted to sell up, cash in and move out. The owners’ children will have a big problem if they want to stay in London.

While standing up for “overseas demand” because it is “critical to the economics of many of the developments”, Boris ignores the fact that these developments are largely the work of foreign investors, on behalf of foreign investors. Even those buyers who will eventually let out their flats will demand rents well above what locals can pay.

So come on, Boris. You are the Mayor of London. The people who elected you need to live not in an “asset class” but in a house. And if you continue to stick your head in the sands of denial, you deserve to have your arse kicked.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Syrian refugee 'Nora' with her two month-old daughter. She was one of the first Syrians to come to the UK when the Government agreed to resettle 100 people from the country  

Open letter to David Cameron on Syrian refugees: 'Several hundred people' isn't good enough

Independent Voices
Amjad Bashir said Ukip had become a 'party of ruthless self-interest'  

Could Ukip turncoat Amjad Bashir be the Churchill of his day?

Matthew Norman
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project