Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Downturn May Halt Boris's 50,000 Homes

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Downturn May Halt Boris's 50,000 Homes

Article excerpt

Byline: KATHARINE BARNEY AND MIRA BAR-HILLEL

BORIS JOHNSON has admitted that the recession could defeat his plans to build 50,000 affordable homes by 2011 -- one of his key election promises.

In his first admission that he may not be able to fulfil his election pledge, the Mayor said these were very "dark" times for London financially.

Mr Johnson was speaking at a meeting of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry last night where business leaders quizzed him over his record on small businesses.

He was also asked whether he would consider abolishing the whole of the congestion charge and how he planned to help London recover from the recession.

When he came into power last May, Mr Johnson scrapped the existing policy of insisting developers include 50 per cent affordable housing to gain planning permission and introduced a figure of 50,000 by agreeing individual targets with each borough.

So far a provisional agreement has been reached with 14 London boroughs to deliver more than 16,750 homes. The remaining 19 boroughs have identified a further 20,500 affordable homes. But there are still 12,750 which have not been agreed with Brent and Newham proving sticking points.

When he was asked if he could deliver his target, Mr Johnson said: "It is going to be difficult but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try and we will try very hard.

I'm determined to keep going and I see no reason to junk the target." He said it was important to continue to invest in infrastructure and for the Government to not cut funding for Tube upgrades.

He said: "We've got to have confidence and look at the ways this city can come out of this situation. It is my deep belief that not only will London come through but if we give Londoners the skills they will show they can adapt and grow and ensure by their efforts and ingenuity that London emerges from the downturn as the greatest city on earth." His comments came as it emerged town halls are facing a [pounds sterling]6 billion fall in contributions from developers who are halting work and renegotiating plans. …

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