There are many things that will make it difficult for Khan to solve London’s housing crisis. The relatively limited powers of his office, compared to his peers in New York or Paris. The shortage of brownfield, distrust of high-rise and complete absence of political appetite to extend London’s boundaries, which, combined, mean a crippling lack of land to build on.
But perhaps the biggest challenge facing Khan is the sheer scale of the problem. London’s population is growing by roughly 100,000 a year. In his four years as mayor, London will grow by approximately the size of Bristol. Short of knocking down whole districts of the capital and rebuilding them, higher, it’s not clear how anyone can solve this problem.
The main problem facing Sadiq Khan in dealing with the London housing crisis is a complete failure to accept that London cannot keep growing its population by sucking in people from the rest of the UK or the world. This is a failure which is common across the political spectrum.
Policy makers need to wake up, reject their current view that ‘population growth is good’ and adopt policies to limit and if they want a real sustainable future, reduce London’s population.
That means dumping the neo-liberal obsession with the free and unfettered flow of population. If not the housing crisis will continue!