For anyone interested in the use of development viability appraisals in the planning system, the appointment of James Murray at deputy London Mayor with responsibility for housing policy could be a significant change. He was previously with Islington Council and they have been very, very switched on about the uses and abuses of viability appraisals.
It looks like the development lobby tried to get their retaliation in first last week with some fairly self-serving comments from developers reported in the FT in an article that seemed a bit lop-sided. Responding to the article, a letter to the FT from an Islington councillor showed that there could have been an alternative slant. I think that what part of the development industry fears is someone who has a quite a deep understanding of the development and planning processes, who will, I suspect, robustly challenge their current practices and models and who now holds an important office. Yesterday, Simon Jenkins in the Guardian described the previous Mayoral housing and planning regimes as engaging in a very British form of corruption.
It could all get rough and tough. It’s unlikely that landowners and developers (often they are both) will meekly transfer their land-based wealth to the community in the form of higher provision of affordable housing. In a time of growing population and high profits, they have options to wait. The new Deputy Mayor needs them to be active if supply is to increase or be maintained.