Mayor's New Administration to Be 'Unashamedly Yimby'

Deputy says housing starts will be boosted with a Labour government

Deputy Mayor Tom Copley. Picture: GLA

June 7, 2024

Sadiq Khan’s housing deputy said this Wednesday (5 June) that he and the mayor are “unashamed YIMBYs” who “stand ready” to work with an incoming Labour Government to boost home-building in London.

In a speech at the Centre for London think tank’s housing summit, deputy mayor Tom Copley hailed Mr Khan’s home-building record, while warning that a national downturn in the construction industry represents a “calamity” for the homeless.

The YIMBY movement, which stands for ‘Yes In My Backyard’, has set itself in opposition to NIMBYs (Not In My Backyard), who the former says are selfishly seeking to block planning applications for much-needed housing schemes.

But in his speech, Mr Copley cautioned that YIMBYism can sometimes “become too narrow in its diagnosis of what’s holding back development”, adding, “Like the proverbial man who only has a hammer, so everything starts to look like a nail – if our only solution is ‘planning reform’, then everything starts to look like the planning system’s fault.”

The deputy mayor says he instead believes in “progressive YIMBYism”, which involves “getting the public sector more directly involved in building”.

He told the summit, “You don’t have to travel too far to see how this can be done. In March, I visited Vienna and saw how their municipal government is delivering housing, including large numbers of social rented homes, both on its own and through partnership with the private sector.

“In London, we stand ready to help a new Labour Government reach their ambitious national target of 1.5 million homes in a Parliament.”

Mr Khan was criticised by his Tory rival Susan Hall during the recent mayoral election, after provisional Government data revealed that just 580 new homes were started in London in the last three months of 2023. The figure is a record low for the capital, though downturns have been recorded across England’s regions.

The mayor argued that the Government’s lack of clarity over new fire safety rules – requiring second staircases in tall buildings – had created uncertainty for London’s housebuilding sector, as the technical requirements of the new rules were not published until March this year.

In his speech, the deputy mayor chastised ministers’ “lack of action” amidst the “steep nationwide housing downturn”, saying, “The response of the Conservatives nationally has been to step back rather than step up.

“They’ve stripped back housing targets, scaled back the ambition of their Affordable Homes Programme and sat on their hands as house building falls off a cliff.”

Noah Vickers - Local Democracy Reporter