In 2021, Sadiq Khan won his second term as Mayor of London, but did so with a decreased vote share and under poor results from Labour at the 2021 Local Elections. As my mother once said to me, three years in politics goes in a blink of an eye and as of today, Mayor Khan is set to win his third term as Mayor of London with Conservatives trailing massively in the national polls.

Mayor Khan has done relatively well in trying to build homes in the city without coming seriously into odds with national government. New analysis released by the Mayor’s office showed overall housing completions under Mayor Khan stand at 36,000 a year on average, 10,000 more than his predecessor, Boris Johnson. Further to this, the Mayor has pledged to build 40,000 new council homes which appears to have gone down well with Londoners who acknowledge that the city has a chronic shortage of council housing.

Part of the reason for this success in homebuilding appears to be who Mayor Khan has surrounded himself with. Instead of high-profile names who would be sure to grab headlines, he’s appointed Deputy Mayors who he has been able to delegate and trust on housing delivery. The addition of Tom Copley appears to be well received as someone with a proven record in local government. The endless images of Mr Copley and Mayor Khan opening new homes has helped Khan build a positive profile in delivering new homes. Another welcome addition is Jules Pipe, the former Mayor of Hackney and current Deputy Mayor for Planning, Regeneration and Skills. As the latter, Mr Pipe has achieved significant success in challenging London authorities in delivering new homes, consolidating and strengthening the Mayor’s position. One recent example that made headlines was the overturning of Tower Hamlets’ refusal to allow planning permission for the redevelopment of the Aberfeldy Estate. At a public hearing on the proposals, Deputy Mayor Pipe pressed Tower Hamlets’ Chair of Planning on why the application was refused based on the lack of affordable housing even though independent consultants concluded that no more affordable housing could be provided. The Chair of Planning, after much stumbling, was unable to answer, giving Deputy Mayor Pipe and by extension, the Mayor of London, a satisfying victory against a non-Labour council. Little shows of strength like this have proved that Mayor Khan’s housebuilding record is positive.

The stark contrast here is that the government appear to have a somewhat relaxed attitude to housebuilding, evidenced by their announcement of the scrapping of mandatory housing targets, whereas Mayor Khan has incessantly said that homebuilding is vital for London and councils should stick to their targets as per the London Plan.

On the flipside, his main challenger, Susan Hall, has taken a contrasting approach, promising to stop ‘tower block’ development and build family homes instead, all whilst not disrupting existing communities or the Green Belt. It’s not clear how this can be done, especially when family homes can be part of a tower block with a mix of one- and two-bedroom homes. Evidence by the most unlikely of sources also supports the notion that building on the Green Belt is a must if this country has any chance of escaping the housing crisis, with the Head of Natural England saying ‘new homes and protection for green spaces and wildlife should not be seen as opposites. Positive messages for the YIMBY crowd, not so much for those who oppose.  In addition, according to London First, 76% of London’s greenbelt is occupied by golf courses, utilities, and historic buildings, the latter of which are usually in a poor state. Reforming the green belt to not give holy merit to these places would go a long way in alleviating the housing shortage.

Whilst all the polling suggests Mayor Khan wins in a landslide, his own popularity has dwindled, particularly in the outer London boroughs, including my own of Harrow. There are several contributing factors to this, but everyone around these parts will tell you that it’s because of Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ). The implementation of the ULEZ has been considerably disliked by outer London boroughs who tend to have less access to good public transport than those closer to the centre. According to YouGov ratings, Mayor Khan is disliked by 46% of those polled as opposed to 17% of those who have a positive rating. It appears that whilst he has been a force for good in approving homes for London, this one policy alone could worry those campaigning for his re-election.

Overall, the polls show a clear Khan victory but as we know, it’s never straightforward. With the change of voting system back to first past the post, Khan may have to campaign twice as hard as he did in 2021 to retain his Mayoralty. As for the Conservatives, it appears that they are on a sticky wicket with 400 runs still to get. However, the same was said with Shaun Bailey in 2021 and it was much closer than anyone could have imagined. One thing is for certain, there will be no punches pulled in the campaign, and no side will want to be complacent.

Image credit: Greater London Authority/Caroline Teo