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London Mayor Boris Johnson Backs Plans for 22,000 New Homes in York

York Local Plan Map

2:30pm 12th August 2013
(Updated 4:09pm 12th August 2013)

London Mayor Boris Johnson has backed plans to build 22,000 new homes in York.

Boris Johnson says in a letter to York council leader James Alexander "I do wish you the very best of luck in pursuing your housing policies".

The Labour Leader of City of York Council, told Minster FM:

“Resolving York’s homes crisis is not a party political issue, it is about whether you support aspiration or the status quo. Up and down the country, local opposition parties of different political persuasions are opposing plans for new homes.

“Boris Johnson and Nick Boles MP understand the need to ensure the cost of having a home is affordable. Anthony Eden, Harold Macmillan and even Margaret Thatcher had a vision of a ‘property owning democracy’. This has been abandoned by York Conservatives who would rather be a party of privilege.”

York Conservative Deputy Leader Cllr. George Barton has hit back saying “Cllr. Alexander was obviously on a fishing expedition hoping the Mayor of London, who knows nothing of the details about Labour’s Local Plan, would supply a helpful quote or two which could be used to prop up his arguments for building an unsustainable number of new houses on York’s green belt.  This is typical of Cllr. Alexander, who has been reduced to Tory grave-robbing and to writing fan letters to Tory politicians to support his case in light of what would appear to be an overwhelmingly negative response by residents to his proposed Local Plan."
“Make no mistake- we, the CYC Conservative Group, believe that new homes need to be built in York.  But clearly any group which disagrees with the scale and numbers of Labour’s proposals stand to be smeared by what are becoming more and more desperate tactics.”
You can read the exchange of letters below:

James Alexander's letter to Boris Johnson

Dear Boris

I am a believer in giving credit where credit is due, regardless of political divides. I watched your appearance on BBC Question Time last night and I thought I would take the time to commend you for your policies on housing.

Growing up in an overcrowded housing association property in Shepherds Bush is one of the life influences that spurred me into politics. Like you my political journey has seen me become leader of a great city. Although we can agree to disagree whether London or York is the greatest city on Earth.

It is widely recognised that York like London, has a homes crisis. This is due to demand for homes far outstripping years of supply. This month Shelter published 'A Home of Their Own' report which showed some residents in York have to save for fifteen years to buy a home, much like some areas of London. I have great empathy with the plight of first time buyers as I am of that generation that currently has no prospect of owning my own home as rents continue to rise.

York's homes crisis is why I have announced plans for 22,000 new homes in York in the coming years. I wanted to pay credit to you in responding to David Dimbleby on Question Time. When he asked you what is the answer to affordable housing you replied bluntly  "the answer is to build more homes". I also watched how robust you were in your pride for 50% affordable housing on the Olympic Park development.

I believe I know why York, London and the country for that matter needs more homes and I have taken on board the 'moral obligation' to provide housing which has been pressed upon me by Nick Boles MP. However I wanted to ask you why you think cities like London and York need more homes, what advice you would give me for pursuing this agenda and also to ask how proud you are of delivering 50% affordable housing on the Olympic Park site?

I am most impressed and I look forward to hearing form you.

Ps. You are always welcome to come to York. It is less than two hours by train

Yours sincerely,

Councillor James Alexander

Labour Leader of City of York Council

Boris Johnson's letter to James Alexander

Dear Cllr Alexander,

Thank you for your letter of 24 June and your kind words regarding my appearance on Question Time on 20 June. I am pieased that crucial questions around future housing supply are being thoughtfully addressed throughout the country, and even more pleased that we can find agreement across the political divide.

You raise an incredibly important issue for both of our cities. in London, we are buiiding record numbers of affordable homes and releasing acres of public iand for residential development. The scale of the activity underway in Stratford to create London's newest neighbourhood is a superb example of what this kind of investment can achieve. Up to 8,000 homes will be built in and around the Olympic Park area by 2030, aiong with employment space, world-class sports
venues and the 560-acre Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

l am immensely proud of what is being achieved in places like Stratford. Though, with London’s population soaring, more must be done. The recent announcements in the Spending Review will enable us to continue our ambitious programme, yet we also need a commitment to long-term and stable housing investment so that we can plan now for the housing supply we know that we wili need in the future. This is something I will be continuing to discuss with the

In your letter, you ask why I think cities like London and York need more homes. Put simply, I think that housing must be seen as vital infrastructure in the same way as transport, energy and high speed broadband already are. New, good quaiity and affordable homes are crucial if we are to house our cities’ workforces and attract the brightest talent from across the globe. If we fail to build the homes that our cities need then there will be economic, as well as social,
consequences for the entire country.

You might be interested to read the recent report of the independent London Finance Commission, whose recommendations are just as applicable for York and other major UK cities as they are for London. The Commission expands on the theme of the importance of investing in infrastructure, and it sets out how our cities could potentiaily become more self-funding in future.

The report is available on our website at https://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/business-economy/championing-london/london-finance-commission and the Government has committed to looking at the recommendations carefully.

Thank you for your kind invitation to visit you in the beautiful city of York. While I would be delighted to take you up on your offer at some point in the future, I am sure you will understand my duties here in London prevent me from making any commitments at this time. However, I do wish you the very best of luck in pursuing your housing policies and making clear to the good people of York the enormous economic benefits of investing in the housing infrastructure that will ensure their city goes from strength to strength in the coming years.

Yours sincerely,

Boris Johnson

Mayor of London

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