The Mayor’s Outer London Commission: Report

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2.100 The greatest proportions of lone-parent households in outer London boroughs are in Barking and Dagenham (13 per cent), Greenwich (13 per cent), Waltham Forest (11 per cent) and Brent (11 per cent). These are the only outer London boroughs with proportions of lone-parent households above the proportion for inner London boroughs combined (ONS definition).

2.101 Household income distribution in the outer London boroughs has been analysed previously above. Also of interest are average incomes and earnings in the outer London boroughs and comparisons with inner London. Figure 2.27 maps median average equivalised household incomes and median average weekly pay for individuals.

Figure 2.27: Median equivalised household income (2008) and median weekly pay (2007)

2.102 The outer boroughs with the lowest average equivalised household incomes are Newham (£23,600), Barking and Dagenham (£23,900), and Brent (£26,600). These same three boroughs are also those with individuals on the lowest average weekly pay (Newham with £449, Brent with £475, and Barking and Dagenham with £494).

2.103 The highest average incomes and levels of weekly pay in outer London are in the boroughs of Richmond upon Thames and Kingston upon Thames.

2.104 Occupations are a key driver of incomes and earnings. Evidence of this for outer London is the occupational mix in boroughs with the highest and lowest average household incomes and earnings.

2.105 Outer boroughs with the top three average household incomes are also those with residents on the highest average weekly pay (Richmond upon Thames, Kingston upon Thames and Bromley). And three boroughs with lowest average household incomes are also those with lowest average weekly pay levels (Newham, Barking and Dagenham, and Brent). For these two groups of boroughs, Figure 2.28 shows proportions of residents in different occupational groups from all those in employment. Also shown for comparison are the occupational shares in all outer London and inner London boroughs.

Figure 2.28: Occupational shares in boroughs with the top three and bottom three average household incomes and earnings, 2007

2.106 In the boroughs with lowest household incomes and earnings there is a spread of residents working across the major occupational groups, with over a quarter of people employed in what can be termed low skill jobs; elementary occupations, process, plant and machine operatives, and sales and customer service occupations. Just over 40 per cent of working residents in these boroughs are employed in one of the high skill categories; managers and senior officials, professional occupations, and associate professional & technical occupations.

2.107 In contrast, greater proportions of workers living in boroughs with the highest incomes and earnings are employed in the high skill occupations – likely to be in higher-end business and financial services agglomerated centrally and thought of as specialist areas for London. Only 13 per cent of workers living in these boroughs are employed in the aforementioned low skill occupations.

2.108 The occupational mix of residents living in outer boroughs with the highest incomes and earnings is closer to that of inner London. The occupational mix in boroughs with the lowest incomes and earnings is more akin to that of outer London as a whole, but with higher shares of residents employed in low skill occupations.

2.109 Geographically, this provides a finer grained appreciation of the broad differences in income distribution shown in Figure 2.1, which outlined a greater concentration of wealthier outer London households towards the south west and, with some exceptions, a greater concentration of the less well-off towards the east.

What is distinct about housing in outer London?

2.110 By way of context for the Commission’s work, it should be noted that the characteristics of London’s housing market are distinct from elsewhere in the country. Greater London has the highest average house prices of any UK region and a greater proportion of London’s housing stock is social (public) housing compared with the rest of England.

2.111 Of particular relevance to the Commission are those features of housing in outer London that differ from those in inner London and the wider south east. Also of significance are differences in housing market conditions between outer London boroughs.

2.112 Table 2.8 shows total numbers of dwellings and percentages of private and public (social) housing in outer London boroughs and, for comparison, inner London, Greater London, the South East, the East of England and England as a whole. Private housing is that which is owner occupied or private rented. The table also shows the percentages of private and public dwellings in each area that are deemed unfit.

2.113 Outer London provides 61 per cent of London’s total dwelling stock. The tenure mix here is noticeably different from that of inner London, where a much greater proportion of housing is ‘affordable’. At 17.7 per cent the proportion of public sector dwellings in outer London is almost half that in inner London (34.9 per cent). The tenure mix in outer London is closer to those in the South East and Eastern regions and England as a whole.

2.114 Outer London boroughs with the highest proportions of affordable housing are Barking and Dagenham (32.4 per cent), Newham (30.7 per cent) and Haringey (29.6 per cent). These three boroughs along with Brent provide over 30 per cent of outer London’s total affordable housing supply. Figure 2.29 is a map showing the geography of social housing throughout London. Outer boroughs with the highest shares of private housing are Redbridge (90.7 per cent), Harrow (89.3 per cent) and Kingston upon Thames (88.5 per cent).

Figure 2.29: Proportions of households living in social housing by ward, 2001

2.115 The proportions of unfit housing in outer London are lower than those in inner London but higher than shares recorded in the wider south east. Of outer London boroughs, Newham and Brent have particularly high shares of unfit dwellings in the private sector and the greatest shares of unfit public housing are in Barking and Dagenham and Harrow.

Table 2.8: Dwelling stock by tenure and condition, 2006

Source: GLA DMAG 2009 London Borough Stat-pack Based on GLA definition of outer London

2.116 Over the past 20 years London’s population has been rising which, together with declining average household size, has led to increased demand for housing. The result has been a rise in both the price and stock of housing, with these trends expected to continue in the medium to long term. This follows economic theory. There are many things that affect price and dwelling numbers but increasing household numbers is one of the most fundamental of them. This can be inferred from the market assessments and NHPAU reports.

2.117 Annex 5B shows that until the early 90’s, outer London housing output was consistently above that of inner London, but since then, with few exceptions, it has been below, usually by a significant margin. However, this headline conceals considerable local variation. Figure 2.30 shows net conventional housing completions over time in outer London sub-regions (left hand axis) and inner London for comparison (right hand axis)1.

2.118 Housing supply in the outer South East (Bexley and Bromley) has been in general decline since the late 1980s, although picked up somewhat since 2003. Completions in the outer North, outer South West and outer West all fell during the 1990s but have risen since the start of the current decade, with the sharpest rate of growth in this period in the outer South West. Housing supply in the outer North East rose strongly from 1999 to 2002 but has rather plateaued since then.

2.119 Housing output is partly a function of the density of development. However, simply raising densities across the board is not a solution to increasing output, much less sustaining the distinct qualities of suburban London. High housing densities in inappropriate locations were an important concern for many of the respondents to the Commission, especially when they resulted in development which is out of scale and character with the residential heartlands. Thus, while average density of new development in outer London is less than half that in inner London3 (Figure 2.31), 50 per cent of output is still above the range for a particular location which might be expected from London Plan density policy (compared with 56 per cent in inner London – Annex 5C). The policy itself4, based on ‘Sustainable Residential Quality’ (SRQ) principles originally developed by the boroughs themselves, appears reasonable (subject to some minor modifications – see below). The problem would seems to be much more in its implementation, with the ‘SRQ’ matrix being interpreted mechanistically and not enough attention being paid to the need to respect local context and to take proper account of public transport accessibility. Annex 5C also shows that even taking this into account, the policy does not seem to be being interpreted consistently across outer London. Though it is intended to provide flexibility to respond to different local circumstances, the character of outer London would not appear to vary so much as to justify one outer borough having an average new development density of 35 dwellings/ha5 (implying significant output below the national 30 dwellings/ha minimum benchmark), while densities in most outer boroughs are at least double this.

Figure 2.30: Net conventional housing completions, 3 year moving averages2

Figure 2.31: Density of residential development by borough

Note: Figures are based on gross residential units in schemes for which a site area is available

2.120 The Commission recognises that implementing the policy more effectively will require a more complex decision making process and will place pressure on Development Control resources – however, this is essential to deliver the ‘Sustainable Residential Quality’ outcomes originally anticipated. It should be backed by refinements to the 2008 Plan which place greater emphasis on optimising rather than maximising output by taking proper account of local context and access to public transport, and by measures to ensure that in higher density development in particular, new homes are of a high standard.

2.121 According to data from the Land Registry, average house prices rose in every outer London borough in every year from 1997 to 2007. It is of interest to examine the magnitude of house price increases across different outer London boroughs during the residential property boom.

2.122 Figure 2.32 shows percentage increases in average house prices in the latest two five-year periods for which data is available (1997 to 2002 and 2002 to 2007). Data is shown for the outer London boroughs (ONS definition), outer and inner London and the East and South East regions for comparison.

2.123 The chart shows that across all areas growth in house prices was sharper in the period 1997-2002 compared with 2002-2007. During the 1997-2002 period prices in outer London underwent a sharper percentage increase (96 per cent) than those in inner London (90 per cent), the wider South East (90 per cent) and East (89 per cent) regions, and the whole of England and Wales (74 per cent). The sharpest rises in outer London occurred in Waltham Forest, Brent and Redbridge.

2.124 From 2002-2007 the percentage increase in average prices in outer London (50 per cent) was slightly less marked than that in inner London (53 per cent), the East of England (53 per cent), and England and Wales (59 per cent). However, outer London’s increase was again sharper than that in the South East (47 per cent). The sharpest increases in outer London between 2002 and 2007 were in Barking and Dagenham, Waltham Forest and Merton.

2.125 In 2007 (i.e. close to the peak of the recent housing boom) the average house price in outer London was £301,000 compared with £440,000 in inner London (ONS definitions). Average prices in outer London boroughs varied widely from £512,000 in Richmond to £193,000 in Barking and Dagenham. The ranks of outer boroughs in terms of their average house prices changed little over the last ten years with a few notable exceptions. Average prices in Brent and Redbridge were the tenth and thirteenth most expensive in outer London respectively in 1997. By 2007 Brent was the sixth most expensive borough and Redbridge the tenth most expensive borough.

Figure 2.32 Percentage changes in average house prices, 1997 to 2002 and 2002 to 2007

Figure 2.33: Number and main mode share of residents’ trips (all purposes) within and between central, inner and outer London, 2001

What are the distinct features of transport in outer London?

2.126 Information already presented covers commuting aspects of transport. Figure 2.33 shows the main mode shares of trips taken for all purposes within outer London and to inner and outside of London. Also shown on the map are total numbers of trips in millions. The ‘private’ mode represents car or other automobile journeys.

2.127 The main mode shares displayed on the map indicate that of trips taken within outer London over half were taken by car and around a third were walking or cycling trips. Car journeys represented an even larger share of trips between outer boroughs and outside of London (around 80 per cent).

2.128 In contrast, public transport was used for around 80 per cent of all trips between outer and central London, with the remainder of journeys between the two areas by car.

2.129 Between outer and inner London car journeys were again the most widely used form of transport, representing slightly more than half of all trips. The vast majority of non-car trips between outer and inner London were taken by public transport.

2.130 Data gathered by TfL also allows closer inspection of modes of travel to work from and to outer London areas (and inner London). This information is shown in Table 2.9.

Almost half of all journeys to work by residents of outer London (ONS definition) are by car, reflecting a large proportion of work commutes that are within outer London (see Table 2.5). The three principal modes of public transport (bus, rail and underground) are used by approximately equal shares of outer London residents to get to work.

Table 2.9: Main mode of travel to work, Autumn 2006

Source: ONS Labour Force Survey from TfL 2007 London Travel Report Based on ONS definition of outer London

Table 2.10: Travel times to work by main mode, Autumn 20062

Includes modes not listed (e.g. taxi). 2 Comparisons with earlier years results (reported in previous editions) are subject to sampling error and should be treated cautiously.

Source: ONS Labour Force Survey from TfL 2007 London Travel Report Based on ONS definition of outer London

2.131 Travel to work times, shown by main modes of transport in Table 2.10, are significantly shorter for workers in outer London compared with inner London commutes. Shorter journeys are likely to be taken by those that live and work in outer London and outer areas contain lower employment densities compared with central London, meaning that congestion is not as great.

2.132 As shown above car journeys make up a significant proportion of all trips taken by residents of outer London. It is therefore of interest to examine which outer boroughs contain the most car traffic, and to compare boroughs of different sizes it is useful to look at traffic flows per square kilometre of area.
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