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LONDON-The Greater London Authority’s proposal that 50 per cent of housing in new developments must be ‘affordable’ could stifle rather than boost the provision of affordable housing, says the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

At a seminar held at its Westminster headquarters, RICS members debated with deputy London Mayor Nicky Gavron the claim that unrealistic targets for affordable housing will lead to unaffordable development.

The RICS agrees that providing affordable homes is a crucial part of the future development of London, but warns of the dangers which might follow if the GLA’s 50% new building target is strictly adhered to. The target of 50% may appear so unattractive to developers that plans are shelved and less housing is built.

The RICS believes a strategy for providing more affordable housing in London must include a return to direct provision of housing for key workers such as policemen and nurses; allowing higher density residential development; and incorporation of affordable housing in commercial developments.

The overriding theme of the conference, organised by RICS London Region in response to the mayor’s London Plan, was that solutions to London’s infrastructure, transport problems and chronic housing needs, must be based on market reality as well as community objectives.

Many of these areas were covered in The London Plan – the big solution?, a brochure published by RICS on the day. Recommendations include the introduction of Transport Development Areas throughout London-areas around transport hubs where higher density development would be allowed; restricting congestion charging to peak hour traffic; and a new emphasis on shorter-term solutions to improving travel in London including the construction of at least ten new tram networks.

Stephen Robinson, Chairman of the RICS London Policy Group, said: ‘The new plan for London being worked up by the GLA will set the direction for development in London for at least the next 50 years. Unless policies are pursued which underpin the vitality and vibrancy of the capital, London will be in danger of surrendering its world city status.’

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