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Boris’s London Housing Push Falling Short, Developers Say

London Mayor Boris Johnson’s plans to alleviate the city’s worsening housing shortage don’t go far enough and he’ll have to push boroughs harder to allow denser construction and make more land available, according to a U.K. homebuilders group.

The authority must be “more proactive in seeking to release land with development potential,” the group of seven developers including Barratt Developments Plc, Berkeley Group Holdings Plc and Taylor Wimpey Plc said in comments filed to the city on the London Plan, which will guide development for the next 20 years.

Johnson plans to increase high-density residential development and loosen planning restrictions in some districts in an attempt to get 42,000 homes built annually, almost double last year’s pace. That would still be 7,000 short of what’s needed to keep up with population growth in the city, according to a report last year by the Greater London Authority.

Restrictions on high-rise buildings, a rapidly increasing population, soaring home values and the protection of the undeveloped “green belt” around the city have contributed to London’s housing shortage. The city’s population is expected to grow by about 1 million people to 9.2 million in the decade through 2021.

Pent-up Demand

Pent-up demand from years of building fewer homes than needed is adding to the pressure brought by a growing population, the group said. The London authority must press boroughs to approve designs for larger-scale higher-density housing than exists currently, according to the filing dated April 10 and made public this week. Representatives for Taylor Wimpey and Barratt weren’t immediately available for comment. No one from the mayor’s office was available for comment.

“It is now time to take stock and comprehensively review” the restricted boundaries, and make available sites that don’t serve the purposes of the green belt, homebuilder Crest Nicholson Holdings Plc said in a separate filing.

High-density housing should be encouraged in London’s outer boroughs with good public transport, according to a filing by DP9 Ltd. on behalf of Canary Wharf Group Plc. The developer of east London’s financial district said 49,000 homes a year should be the minimum target for the U.K. capital. There’s also room for at least 30,000 new homes on the Isle of Dogs, which includes Canary Wharf, compared with a target of 10,000 in the proposed plan, the company said.

Canary Wharf also supports an increase in the minimum number of homes earmarked for the Waterloo district to 2,500 from 1,900. The company owns a land plot there with Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Co. No one from Canary Wharf or Crest Nicholson was immediately available for comment.

“The mayor has set the most ambitious house building targets in City Hall’s history,” Jonathan Weisgard, a spokesman for Johnson, said in an e-mail. “In the last year, more new homes were started in London than in almost a decade.”

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