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Urbanisation and globalisation are driving today's labour market

Today an increased percentage of the world’s population live in cities and online sales often outstrip the traditional retail model. Property markets need to respond. Restrictive land use planning, which seeks to retain employment use and periphery green belt, will need to yield to the demand for housing and mixed use development.
 
The mayor of London’s plan is that London is to be the ‘greatest on earth’. Yet it is far from the largest. In fact it is the 23rd in terms population and 37th in terms of area. It is a city envisaged to grow in population by 100,000 people each year until 2021. It is estimated that its 32 boroughs will need to provide up to 62,000 new homes every year. Last year the figure was just 18,380.
 
The capital’s planners will have to recognise the need to allow housing on employment sites. They will need to allow development at greater densities in higher buildings in a capital that remains in most part a traditional low rise city, and they may need to set hard house building targets for individual boroughs. Despite this, it is unlikely that sufficient land will become available in the capital, indeed it is estimated that there will be a shortfall of 20,000 new homes per annum.
 
The problem is not just the lack of availability of housing, it’s the lack of affordability. We have to face the fact that not everyone can afford to rent or buy in London. What is clear is there will be increased pressure on those districts surrounding the London boroughs to allocate land for housing, where that land is cheaper than land in the capital. This will mean some encroachment onto periphery greenbelt where land can be provided at lower cost.
 
Kent has excellent communications with the capital. Established commuter lines to Charing Cross, London Bridge and Victoria are enhanced by the HS1 service to St Pancras, and Kent has the most direct routes to the continent. We are lightly populated with our average district less than half the population of the outer London boroughs. It is inevitable that Kent is due to see outward migration from London and expansion in new house building beyond estimates to meet local demand.
 
Urban expansion is a reality and Kent’s districts will need to provide more sites for housing. We will need to cut restrictive red tape and regulation and pre commencement conditions in development control. We need a positive approach to identifying sites for residential development that is not clouded by a prescriptive adherence to existing land use. Potential housing sites should be identified on the edges of existing settlements where infrastructure exists and the quality of green belt is questionable.
 
It is taxpayer subsidies that are funding the increased costs and shortages of housing. It is in all our interests to find a solution. 

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