“Hot off the press today we have a first look at Rishi’s budget – apart from all the looks we got yesterday and in the days before that, as this Government did its usual thing of dishing out the headlines nice and early. Don’t they know we could all do with a bit of edge-of-seat entertainment at the moment?
It’s not as if the upcoming Mayoral election is going to provide much of that, unless Tory candidate Shaun Bailey finds even more surprising ways to put his foot in his mouth in the next few months. Sadiq, due to (re)launch his campaign tomorrow, might at least give us a couple of juicy items in his manifesto.
Let’s hope it's got some positive, visionary vibes as really things are looking so much better for Londoners and everyone else too. Below there’s news of a summer of sport, a pioneering new housing development for older LGBT+ people and even a glimmer of light for poor old Transport for London who have, it must be said, been stuck in a tunnel for a while now.”
LCA Board Director and LDN Editor Jenna Goldberg
LCA is currently recruiting, particularly at Account Executive level across our property, planning, corporate and consumer work, so please do get the word out and get in touch if you’re interested in hearing more.
RELIEF, BUT NO REVOLUTION
Our overriding impression of today’s Budget is that the government remains in fire-fighting mode – somewhat disappointingly, but perhaps justifiably. London will, along with the rest of the country, benefit from a brace of measures designed to help employers, employees and (to a certain extent) the self-employed battle their way through to a time when the country can roll up its shutters and get back to business. But as reflected in many reactions to today’s statement by the Chancellor, the return to business envisioned by this Budget is rather… business as usual. Notwithstanding a glossy “Build Back better” brochure also published today, the Chancellor’s speech and Red Book mostly talk about extending this and expanding that, with a dash of “Levelling Up” for the regions. And while the Treasury is clearly tackling an unenviably monumental task in balancing a mammoth Budget, the Chancellor gave us very little by way of a real vision for recovery, let alone a newer, greener economic model adapted to life after COVID (and Brexit).
We detect relief mixed with weary disappointment in the reactions of key London organisations including London First, the LCCI, the New West End Company and Centre for London. The Mayor of London has also taken aim at the Budget’s “lack of vision” while London Councils has argued that it offers “the bare minimum” for tackling key problems like homelessness. But lest one thinks this is just because of scanty mentions of London in the Red Book (we counted six references to the capital and one was HM Treasury’s correspondence address), think again. RIBA and the UKGBC have taken aim at the Budget’s lack of ambition on the net zero and green economic recovery agendas. The BPF hasn’t shied from saying that the Government “has had long enough to fix business rates.” And both the LGA and Centre for Cities have argued that the Government needs to go further in genuinely devolving powers and funding to local leaders.
More on the Budget next week.
2021 CAMPAIGN LATEST
As ever, LDN brings you the latest from the 2021 London Mayoral and Assembly campaign trail – and there’s much to report this week:
GLA PLANNING AND HOUSING LATEST
It’s clearly been a busy week for the GLA’s Housing & Land directorate:
*Beyond City Hall, a number of boroughs are making progress towards revising their Local Plans – and we have recently picked up interesting news from Lewisham and Enfield on this front.
BUILDING BLOCKS OF SCIENCE
We’ve seen a remarkable number and variety of schemes securing planning permission in the past few weeks – and have been especially struck by the success of several specialised development projects, which promise to cement London’s status as a hub for life sciences research and healthcare:
Camden Council has approved LCA client Precis Advisory’s proposals for a new laboratory and office building in King’s Cross, alongside affordable housing and workspace at a separate site nearby. The scheme will house MSD’s new UK Discovery Research Centre and HQ at Belgrove House, following the agreement of commercial terms. The applications will now be referred to the Mayor.
- Camden Council has also granted approval for a new cancer support centre at the Royal Free Hospital. The striking 435 sq m centre designed by international architects Studio Libeskind, which will also have a roof garden, should be open by summer 2022.
- Planning permission has been granted for Arlington’s new 123,000 sq ft life sciences development in Hammersmith, which will include both offices and labs, as well as ‘collaboration and amenity space’ such as a restaurant and ‘business lounge’.
- In South London, Wandsworth Council has given the green light for The Smart Clinics new private hospital in Battersea, which specialises in treating obesity problems.
In rare good news for TfL, the extension of the Bakerloo Line to the south-east is now a bit closer to becoming a reality. TfL and local authorities in the area have extensively consulted the public and long lobbied Government for support to extend the line beyond its current terminus at Elephant & Castle, along the Old Kent Road, via New Cross Gate and to Lewisham Station. Following an initial decision to proceed with relevant plans in December, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has now formally issued ‘safeguarding directions,’ (details here) to protect land needed for extending the line from ‘conflicting development.’ Of course, as highlighted by Deputy Mayor for Transport Heidi Alexander, ‘the scheme is still some way off’ as the funding necessary to take the project to the next level is nowhere to be seen. Still, this is good news for South London, much of which remains relatively under-served by the Tube. In other news from TfL, London’s new Direct Vision Standard for lorry safety is now in force; the Mayor is reviving his feud with Kensington & Chelsea over the scrapped Kensington High Street cycle Lane; New Civil Engineer has revealed some rather startling figures about money actually spent on Thames river crossings; and Construction News reports that TfL board member Nina Skorupska is poised to join the supervisory board of Royal Bam.
A SUMMER OF SPORT?
With the pandemic having led to the cancellation and postponement of several sporting events last year, the unveiling of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown last week offered a glimmer of hope to those who have felt deprived of live sport over the last year or so. According to the Prime Minister’s roadmap, people will be allowed to attend large events (with restrictions in place) from 17 May at the earliest. Wimbledon organisers have said that the tournament will go ahead in some capacity, dependent on restrictions, while it seems likely that some fans will be in attendance at the Euros matches set to take place at Wembley. The Mayor has greeted the news enthusiastically, saying that the hosting of sporting events during the summer could ‘act as a springboard to recovery’ for London. As reported by The Telegraph, there are discussions underway about how fans will be permitted to attend these events, with measures potentially including the provision of COVID tests alongside tickets, as well as carrying out tests and temperature checks as fans arrive at venues.
TONIC BANKHOUSE GO!
We are delighted to have supported Tonic Living over the last couple of years, who will soon be opening the UK’s first LGBT+ affirming retirement community, after securing a £5.7m loan from the Mayor of London's GLA Community Housing Fund. The loan will enable the purchase 19 properties at Bankhouse, a purpose-built extra care scheme designed by world-renowned architect Norman Foster and developed by One Housing in Lambeth. This will make Tonic the UK’s first provider of LGBT+ affirmative housing, with sales for 1 and 2 bedroom shared ownership homes due to begin later this spring. This is a major milestone for not only Tonic, but the LGBT+ community as a whole - as there is no LGBT+ affirming provision with care currently in operation in the UK, despite there being a clearly defined need and demand from within the LGBT+ community. For more information on this scheme and Tonic's other work, visit their website.
LCA prides itself on its intelligence-led approach to PR and communications and our dedicated research team monitors London politics, news and issues as it happens. If you would like to know more about LCA or anything in this edition of LDN – London in short please get in touch.
LDN is put together by a dedicated team at London Communications Agency. The content for each edition is developed from news drawn from the last week from every London local paper as well as the regional and national press, from intelligence gathered by monitoring local, regional and national government activity and from the insight and expert knowledge of the entire LCA team.
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