More affordable homes and tougher licensing rules for landlords are being mooted as part of a new housing strategy drawn up by the council.

The measures have been put forward as the number of people living in Barnet– already the most highly populated London borough – is forecast to rise 16 per cent by 2041 to more than 466,000.

Councillors agreed to put the strategy out to consultation at a meeting of the housing committee yesterday (Wednesday, October 10).

The strategy cites an independent review commissioned by the council that found up to 76,500 new homes are needed in Barnet by 2041, with 23 per cent classed as affordable.

But the level of affordable housing in the borough’s local plan, which is due to be adopted by 2020, is 40 per cent.

Councillor Ross Houston, Labour member for West Finchley, welcomed the housing strategy but said the council should be more ambitious on its affordable housing targets.

He said: “I think we should go with the London-wide target of 50 per cent. If you do not set an ambitious target, the evidence suggests you will underperform.”

Conservative member for Hale Cllr Laithe Jajeh said: “It could always be more ambitious, but what I would emphasise is to understand that each borough is different.”

Cllr Jajeh said councillors needed to be aware of constraints such as the impact of housing schemes on infrastructure.

He added: “We can’t always be as imaginative as possible. There are restrictions.”

The housing strategy also contains proposals to introduce selective licensing in a bid to raise standards in the rental market.

This would mean landlords in certain parts of the borough would have to apply for a licence from the council before they could rent out properties.

Selective licensing makes it easier for local authorities to crack down on problems such as crime and anti-social behaviour.

Cllr Houston again welcomed the plans but said the borough had missed an opportunity to bring in a similar licensing scheme five years ago.

He said: “I welcome it, but we have had five years when we could have done this, and people have been living in substandard accommodation unnecessarily because the administration was ideologically not prepared to go with this.”

Council officers also suggested Prime Minister Theresa May’s hint that the Government could allow them to borrow more money to build social housing would enable them to boost the supply of affordable homes.

Mrs May said the Government could lift the cap on the housing revenue account in a speech to the Conservative conference in Birmingham, but it has yet to become an official government policy.

The housing strategy was approved after Conservative members voted in favour and Labour members abstained.

It will be put out to a public consultation from November 2018 to February 2019.