"There are two sets of stats in today’s LDN that really stick out for me.
The first is that in his first term the current Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has had mixed results in delivering the new housing that Londoners need. No surprise therefore that his manifesto, launched last week, doesn’t include an overall target for the next three years - as he doesn’t really control the private housebuilding market, which in recent years has delivered the vast majority of new homes in London. But his manifesto also doesn’t have a target across affordable home tenures - it simply focuses on promises to deliver 10,000 council homes between now and 2024.
The second is the latest unemployment figures for London, which as of the first quarter of this year stood at 7.2% (against a national 4.9%) - or to put it another way 1 in around 14 of us. This is up from 4.5% only three months ago so a very significant increase indeed, though surely linked in large part to London’s above-average number of young people, as well as the number of Londoners normally employed in hospitality (groups that are among the worst hit everywhere, in employment terms). Will this go up further in the months ahead? We shall see. And again, it’s no surprise therefore that Khan has led with the economy in his new manifesto. Shaun Bailey meanwhile (see below) has led with crime.
Two weeks and… counting."
LCA Chairman Robert Gordon Clark
Conservative candidate for Mayor of London Shaun Bailey published his manifesto on Monday, the last of the four main candidates to do so. As expected, the first policy area addressed in his manifesto is policing and tackling crime, with pledges to double foot patrols, recruit thousands more police officers, reopen police stations and reduce crime rates within 100 days. In terms of housing and planning, Bailey reiterates his promise to deliver 100,000 shared ownership homes to sell for £100,000 each, says he would create a City Hall-based developer called Housing for London (HfL) and pledges to both amend the London Plan to ‘ensure beauty is a central part of the planning process’ as well as establish Areas of Outstanding Urban Beauty in London.
Meanwhile, this week Lib Dem candidate Luisa Porritt has criticised Khan for neglecting to include his commitment to the Silvertown Tunnel in his 2021 manifesto, calling it his ‘dirty little secret.’ And Green candidate Sian Berry has reiterated her promise to protect the Green Belt, saying that she will ‘gold plate’ it by working with local councils. For those interested in what all 20 candidates have to say, BBC London has carried out interviews, which can be seen here. The four main candidates are also set to take part in a live debate at 6pm tomorrow on ITV London.
Separately, various campaigning organisations continue to make their own suggestions for the Mayoral candidates. The London Co-operative Party has published its response to Sadiq Khan’s manifesto, while Sustain has called on London’s Mayoral candidates to ‘put good food policies at the heart of the capital’s recovery plan’.
New polling published today by ITV News and carried out by Savanta ComRes between 13 and 19 April has suggested that the gap between incumbent Sadiq Khan and his main rival Shaun Bailey is narrowing slightly. Other recent polls have fairly consistently put Khan around the 50% mark for first preference votes, but when asked by this poll who they would vote for if the election were to take place tomorrow, 41% of respondents said Khan. Meanwhile 28% opted for Bailey, who has consistently polled around this mark, with Lib Dem candidate Luisa Porritt on 8% and Green candidate Sian Berry on 6%. This poll is also notably the first to offer all 20 Mayoral candidates as responses and the ‘other’ candidates polled at a combined 17%, with most on 1% or 2% but with YouTuber Niko Omilana, who is standing as an Independent, on an arguably remarkable 5% (for more on why so many people are standing to be the next Mayor of London, read Jack Brown’s recent piece in OnLondon). Meanwhile, Savanta ComRes’ survey also asked respondents which issues are most important to them when deciding how to vote in the election. 34% respondents said that crime was the most important, no doubt reflecting recent tragic events, while 19% said housing, 15% the environment, 12% said security and 11% transport.
Not long before we went to print, Redfield & Wilton Strategies also published new polling, carried out on 15 and 16 April, which produced fairly similar results for headline voting intention. It places Khan at a slightly higher (but still lower than previous polls) 47% of the vote, Bailey on 26%, Porritt on 9% and Berry on 6%. The ‘other’ candidates polled at a combined 13%.
'LOOK AT THE FACTS'
Over the weekend, we noticed Sadiq Khan getting a bit snappy with a BBC journalist over whether he has delivered against his housing targets. We’ve long pondered Sadiq Khan’s performance as Mayor in this area and if we’ve learned anything, it’s that it’s complicated – so you should be sceptical of anyone’s verdict, especially if it comes in the form of a one-liner. There are a number of housing-related pledges and targets strewn across Khan’s 2016 manifesto, the Housing Strategy drawn up by his team since he became Mayor and of course the London Plan – old and new. The London Plan he inherited and under which he has operated for most of his tenure set him a target of an ‘average completion of a minimum of 42,000 net additional homes per year’ (of which 17,000 should be affordable). Based on data from the Government’s Net Additional Dwellings ‘interactive Dashboard’ and recent years’ London Plan Annual Monitoring Reports, it seems the capital has generally delivered something close to the 42,000 overall average annual target since 2016 – if generally less. It has also underdelivered significantly against the 17,000 per annum affordable target. Then again, considering the limited level of control that the Mayor has over private housebuilders, the length of time it takes for housing schemes to progress through planning to completion and the fact his London Plan was adopted only this year, might it be a tad unfair to consider Khan’s performance only against these relatively simplistic targets?
A better measure would be, arguably, the performance of projects directly (if usually only partly) funded by the Mayor’s Affordable Housing Programme. Here, it is fair to say that Sadiq Khan’s administration has been quite successful: As per the London Assembly’s Affordable Housing Monitor, the programme has met its minimum targets for starts every year since 2016/17. Then again, there are many other metrics one could examine – such as his success in delivering specific tenures of affordable homes, or family-sized homes, or specialist housing for other people. As we said: it’s complicated.
LCA will soon be embarking on its usual roadshow of election presentations, examining the state of play of London politics both before and after polling day. If your organisation or team would be interested in this, do get in touch.
At the still-ongoing Grenfell Inquiry this week, former residents of the Tower had the chance to give evidence. One former resident said that she was treated like a ‘troublemaker’ when she tried to contact the Tenant Management Organisation (TMO) about issues with her flat, including water leaks. She said that often she did not receive responses from the TMO and when they did respond, they were ‘very abrupt and short’ with her. Another former resident said that those who tried to raise their concerns about issues in their homes, as well as about the works being carried out by contractor Rydon, were seen as ‘sub-citizens’. The Inquiry also heard that despite their concerns being raised, residents with disabilities were often housed on the highest floors of the Tower and were not given fire evacuation plans. Separately, on Thursday, the Inquiry will hear from witnesses from the TMO.
The Government last week published its latest Building Safety Figures, showing that 76% of all buildings identified have had their ACM cladding removed, with 53% having completed remediation.
CITY OF LONDON LATEST
If you think you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, try telling that to the City of London Corporation. Last Thursday saw the body governing the Square Mile unveil a new Recovery Plan comprising five strands of work: a Recovery Taskforce; a Business Recovery Fund to support SMEs; the ‘ReOpening’ events series; a COVID-19 Business Accreditation Scheme; and the City of London Recovery Campaign, a promotional push to encourage workers to return to the Square Mile, in line with government guidance. On the same day, the Corporation also announced the appointment of eight new senior officers, plus a new Chamberlain, the Corporation’s Chief Financial Officer. Reflecting the City’s endorsement of a new Operating Model (as part of a wider Fundamental Review) and its commitment to diversifying its leadership, six of nine new senior officers are women and two are people of colour. The new appointees are:
- Chamberlain & Chief Financial Officer: Caroline Al-Beyerty
- Deputy Town Clerk & Chief Executive: Douglas Traine
- Chief Operating Officer: Emma Moore
- Chief Strategy Officer: Dionne Corradine
- Executive Director, Environment: Juliemma McLoughlin
- Executive Director, Human Resources: Ruth Bailey
- Executive Director, Private Secretary to the Lord Mayor: Caroline Jack
- Executive Director, Private Secretary to the Chair of the Policy & Resources Committee: Aaron Downey
- Markets Director: Ben Milligan
TALL BUILDINGS LATEST
New London Architecture has released its latest annual Tall Buildings Survey, which collects the latest data on tall buildings across the development pipeline in the capital during the year past. The survey, which featured everywhere from Architects’ Journal to the Evening Standard, unsurprisingly found that 2020 was a… complicated year for high-rise development in London. But it also found a high volume of projects involving buildings of 20+ storeys – and that investment interest is back on the rise. Indicatively, while the number of submitted applications (75) was down 27.1% on 2019 and buildings under construction were down 45.5% on last year, the total number of tall buildings in the pipeline (i.e. including those with planning permission) grew by 7.9% to a total of 587. The report also covers everything from the geographic spread of these plans and buildings, to the length of time from application submission to construction completion of buildings finished in 2020, a separate survey of tall building residents by HomeViews, industry viewpoints, and 60-odd case studies – and much more besides. If you missed the launch event, you can watch a recording here and you may find the full Survey here.
- Stanhope has hired Nils Rage as Head of Environmental, Social and Governance. He was formerly Sustainable Design and Innovation Manager at Landsec.
- James Cooksey, the Crown Estate’s long-standing Director of Central London, has been appointed as the new Chief Executive of Old Park Lane Management.
- The Met Police’s Director of Communications James Helm has announced that he will leave in the summer.
- In case you missed it, see City of London Corporation story above for nine new appointments to senior roles.
LTNs LOSE BATTLE OF HARROW
Cycle lanes and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) in Harrow are set to be removed following a review and consultation with residents of the borough, six months after they were installed. Residents of Harrow who responded to the consultation on the different measures overwhelmingly disapproved of their introduction, citing their concerns regarding the schemes’ impact on congestion in the area, as well as air quality and access for the emergency services. Harrow is of course not the only London borough in which some residents have been vocal about their opposition to LTNs and cycle lanes. In addition to the removal of the cycle lane on High Street Kensington, there have been protests against the measures in Ealing, Hackney and Wandsworth, just to mention a few. If Harrow’s Cabinet approves the removal, it is understood that this would be the first time in the country that LTNs and cycle lanes have been removed following a formal review period (though individual schemes have been scrapped in other areas following protests). One feature that stakeholders did approve of was the introduction of a lower speed limit and it was made clear via the consultation that this should be retained.
Aside from getting long-overdue haircuts and enjoying a drink with much-missed friends, we continue to read the tea leaves for what our great city will look like, post-pandemic. Some recent developments point to a familiar London starting to bounce back with verve: footfall is up in the City and Canary Wharf, in the West End, and across other parts of Central London. Meanwhile, John Lewis’ ‘multi-million pound renovation of its Peter Jones flagship on Sloane Square’ shows a real will for revival by one of many retailers battered by repeated lockdowns. But elsewhere the news is less rosy, with the 20th Century Society reportedly ‘organising themselves’ to ‘prevent the destruction’ of architecturally significant department stores left vacant by the shrinkage and collapse of many retail chains. Even more ominously, the latest ONS labour market figures indicate that unemployment in London hit 7.2% in the three months to February, up 2.7% since the previous quarter and against a nationwide average of 4.9% - making it, as per one media report, the ‘unemployment capital of the UK.’ Will the ‘new London’ have to cope with shuttered shops and high unemployment for long, or will these prove fleeting?
For other London-watchers as interested as us in what all the above means for the capital, do keep an eye on the London Futures Review being led by Centre for London – and do take part in their survey, which asks Londoners what their Future London would look like.
DAVIDSON PRIZE FINALISTS
The three finalists of the inaugural Davidson Prize, in memory of the late Alan Davidson, have been announced. This first year’s brief was called ‘Home/Work – A New Future’, looking at ways we will live and work post-pandemic. Com-View-Nism by New Normal, The Antipody by Origin 3 Studio and HomeForest by HomeForest were selected from a shortlist of 18. The three finalists are to be given £5,000 each to develop their ideas and a final winner will be selected as part of the London Festival of Architecture in June.
READY FOR ONE WATERLOO
It was a busy week for our client HB Reavis as their One Waterloo scheme received a green light from Lambeth Council. At 1.3m sq ft it is one of London’s largest and most significant commercial developments - you might have spotted the news online in CoStar, Building and EGI among others, with LCA working tirelessly to ensure that the story makes a splash. One Waterloo will feature three acres of outdoor space with over 100 planted trees, including a brand new pedestrianised street lined with shops, public squares, cascading terraces and a unique urban sky farm creating fresh produce for the occupiers. Finally, with aspirations to be one of London’s most sustainable developments, One Waterloo’s office space will be fossil-fuel free, implementing low carbon solutions in all project stages. Interested to find out more? Read about the project here.
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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