LONDON: London mayor Sadiq Khan is to launch the UK’s most comprehensive inquiry into the impact of foreign investment flooding London’s housing market, amid growing fears about the scale of gentrification and rising housing costs in the capital.

Khan said there are “real concerns” about the surge in the number of homes being bought by overseas investors, adding that the inquiry would map the scale of the problem for the first time.

“It’s clear we need to better understand the different roles that overseas money plays in London’s housing market, the scale of what’s going on, and what action we can take to support development and help Londoners find a home,” Khan told the Guardian.

“That’s why we are commissioning the most thorough research on this matter ever undertaken in Britain – the biggest look of its kind at this issue – so we can figure out exactly what can be done.”

Earlier this year, the Guardian revealed how a 50-storey block of 214 luxury apartments by the river Thames in Vauxhall was more than 60% owned by foreign buyers. In one of the starkest examples of the impact of foreign investment, it found that a quarter of the flats were held by companies in secretive offshore tax havens, and many were unoccupied.

Foreign investment has helped drive a fresh property building boom around the UK. Liverpool has received millions of pounds of overseas investment in housing and property in the past five years, including a £200m New Chinatown development that is under construction and is being heavily marketed in China.

Earlier this year, Sheffield announced a multibillion pound deal with a Chinese construction firm that would generate four or five city-centre projects over the next three years and create “hundreds if not thousands” of jobs in south Yorkshire.

The Chinese are the biggest buyers of new-build residential accommodation globally, with the Singaporeans second and the British fourth, according to international property agents Knight Frank.

Khan’s inquiry will focus on the scale and impact of different types of overseas investment in London. It will examine how foreign cash has changed the housing market – from exclusive high-cost accommodation to middle- and low-cost homes – in different parts of London, and explore how other international cities are tackling the problem.