"Michael Gove is the first SoSfLUP, a remarkable turn of events. The fate of planning reform, as well as many a called-in scheme, is in the palm of his hand.
And so, while it’s easy to crack jokes (really, way too easy), it is worth pondering what the department once known as MHCLG (now DLUHC) will look like in its Govian incarnation and of course, what that means for London and its boroughs. Besides his predecessor’s brief, the new SoSfLUP has also been tasked with juggling everything from the cladding crisis to safeguarding the Union.
Meanwhile, how many levels up does Nine Elms go with its new tube stations? Once you get a Zone 1 stop is it time to fight the dragon, rescue the princess and stop playing games? Just to continue this analogy, let’s say that TfL right now could do with a power up. But will government find the mega mushroom to keep London moving? It is clear that the capital receipts expected from developing on-station sites are proving a little trickier to come by than expected and between now and the local elections next May, this pipeline is only likely to slow.
If you want to tell us to give it a rest with the tired jokes, stretched metaphors and excruciating puns, you can say it to our face: you’ll find LCA reps at party conferences and the London Real Estate Forum over the next few weeks. So come say hello and talk London with us in person!"
LCA Board Director and LDN Editor, Jenna Goldberg
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CASH FOR CARRIAGES
South Londoners finally have a bit more of the Tube to help them get around as the Northern Line Extension, a 3km line connecting Kennington to Battersea Power Station and Nine Elms, officially opened on 20 September. This is the first major expansion to the Tube since the Jubilee Line extension opened in 1999 – the year the GLA (and LCA for that matter) was founded. The new station at Nine Elms has been designed specifically so that TfL can deliver nearly 500 new rental homes and workspace on the site. London’s Transport Commissioner Andy Byford has meanwhile broadcast, in an interview with the Financial Times, his plea for Government to properly fund TfL, saying £17bn is needed over the next 10 years. Leading rail, construction and engineering firms have also called on the Prime Minister to commit to delivering the Eastern Leg of HS2, another key piece of infrastructure for London and the country as a whole. It is however encouraging to see that, despite funding pressures, TfL and City Hall are keen to sustain efforts to make the city’s transport network greener and more accessible. The Mayor has announced that all new buses ordered by TfL will be zero-emission and separately, Network Rail and Transport for London have completed step-free access works at Hayes & Harlington station.
CLADDING CRISIS CONT'D
With discussions about building and fire safety policy dragging on more than four years after the Grenfell Tower fire, it’s easy to become desensitised – but this has been an important week. The Grenfell Tower Inquiry continues, with a new phase focused on the London Fire Brigade’s planning and preparation for tackling a major fire. Meanwhile, protestors gathered in Parliament Square to call on the Government to bring an end to the cladding crisis, which continues to affect thousands of buildings in London and across the country. Sadiq Khan was in attendance and has urged landlords and building owners to share fire safety information with residents. Clearly, this is one of the more pressing matters in incoming Housing Secretary Michael Gove’s in-tray and according to The Times, the Prime Minister has instructed him to resolve the crisis. Separately, the Government has published draft legislation for the Residential Property Developer Tax, intended to raise at least £2bn over the next 10 years to pay for cladding remediation on high-rise buildings. It is also rumoured that Chancellor Rishi Sunak will announce a levy on developers with profits of over £25m at the Budget on 27 October.
LONDON PLANNING UPDATE
- Lambeth Council has granted permission for plans by Urban & Provincial for 218 flats on the site of a Brixton waste processing plant. The proposals, which received over 160 objections, include an 11-storey building and 31% affordable housing. This scheme can only go ahead if the waste provision is replaced elsewhere in the borough but in July the same committee unanimously rejected proposals for a new waste processing plant following widespread objections from the local community.
- In neighbouring Southwark, the Council has granted permission for the refurbishment of the former Financial Times building, despite resistance from heritage campaigners. The proposals include a new storey, as well as changes to the building’s façade and public realm improvements.
- It has been reported that Enfield Council has withdrawn its reasons for refusal for Transport for London’s housing scheme on the car park of Arnos Grove Station. The Council had refused the plans, for 162 build-to-rent homes, in January due to the lack of proposed family housing, the loss of car park space and heritage issues. The developer, Connected Living London, a joint venture between TfL and Grainger, appealed to the Planning Inspectorate and the Council withdrew its reasons for refusal on the basis that they would not hold up at an appeal. It is now expected that the plans – one of many car park redevelopment schemes in North London that have been resisted by local councils and communities – will be given the go ahead.
- Meanwhile TfL’s joint venture with Taylor Wimpey in Barnet has hit the rocks. The developer has ended its involvement on two controversial residential schemes on station sites; one for for 300 flats at High Barnet and another for 560 homes at Finchley Central.
- Also in Barnet, councillors have approved the regeneration of the Douglas Bader Park Estate. The existing 271 homes on the estate are set to be demolished and replaced with 753 new homes. In 2019, over 75% of residents voted in favour of the plans in a ballot.
- New Housing Secretary Michael Gove is reportedly set to make a decision on Foster & Partners’ Tulip tower, planned for the City, in October.
ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER BALLOT
Residents of the Love Lane Estate in Haringey have voted narrowly in favour of redevelopment plans by the local Council and development partner Lendlease. The ballot is Haringey’s first, but one of more than twenty to have taken place as a precondition for Mayoral funding, under rules implemented by City Hall in 2017 – all of which have been successful, bar one. In this case, 55.7% of votes cast by Love Lane residents, on a 69.6% turnout, supported plans to demolish the estate’s 297 homes as part of the wider High Road West regeneration scheme. The Council’s aspiration is for 2,600 new homes, of which 40% will be at affordable tenures (including 500 council homes), as well as various public spaces, community amenities and commercial assets. Current tenants have been assured that they will be provided a secure council-rate tenancy on the rebuilt estate, while private leaseholders will be offered financial support to buy an affordable home, either on-site or at another location.
- Housing developer London Square has appointed Simon Dudley as Chair of its for-profit affordable housing arm, Square Roots. He joins from Homes England where he served as interim chair between 2019 and 2020.
- Chris Naylor will leave his post as Chief Executive of Barking and Dagenham Council in January to become a Director of public service consultancy, Inner Circle.
- Nigel Rich CBE has been announced as the new Chairman of Foxtons Group. He will replace Ian Barlow who has been in the role for eight years.
- John Booth has been appointed as the new Chair of the National Gallery for a four year term. He will replace Tony Hall who stepped down in May this year.
- Jonathan Prynn has been promoted to the role of Associate Editor for consumer content at the Evening Standard.
- Labour’s Claire Tighe held a seat in Ealing’s Hobbayne ward “by a comfortable margin” in a by-election triggered by the resignation of Lewis Cox.
GOVE RESHUFFLED UP
As our last edition went to print, we were witnessing the opening acts of a fairly substantial Cabinet reshuffle – outlined in excellent interactive graphics by the BBC and Institute for Government. We were just in time to report the replacement of Robert Jenrick by Michael Gove, which as it turns out was only the half of it. Junior Ministers Chris Pincher and Lord Greenhalgh (for Housing and Building Safety & Communities respectively) have been reappointed, along with Eddie Hughes MP (Rough Sleeping). But Luke Hall (Regional Growth & Local Government) was sacked, making way for Kemi Badenoch and Neil O’Brien, who will focus on the department’s new ‘beat’ – Levelling Up. And of course, then followed the real coup de grace, a brand new name! What used to be the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has now been rebranded as the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC). This is the department’s sixth rebrand (or maybe seventh) since 1970, but it may well be that this latest change is more than cosmetic. Aside from carrying forward his predecessor’s brief, Gove will retain some of his own previous portfolio (briefs for strengthening the Union and oversight of elections), plus directly lead on the Government’s flagship Levelling Up agenda. He’s a LUHCy guy…
PLANNING BILL PAUSE CONFIRMED
Last week we noted our suspicions that Government planning reforms were being watered down – but in the event, it seems ‘grinding to a halt’ would have been more apt. Several reports (more here) have confirmed that Gove is pausing all progress on the Planning Bill pending a ‘review’ and further engagement with Tory MPs who have threatened to rebel against the Government’s proposals if brought to Parliament. Some speculate this is yet another signal that ministers are working on a less-radical version of the proposals, but others think Gove, a notorious ‘disruptor’, may yet try and ram through the Bill more-or-less as is. We’ll have to wait and see what SoSfLUP really has up his sleeve.
LONDON SPEAKS OUT
London Councils has produced a summary of its members’ asks ahead of the Government's 2021 Spending Review. As ever, the umbrella organisation representing London’s local authorities is banging the drum for the capital – and with the Spending Review due to be announced by the Chancellor on 27 October, it’s upping the tempo. Reflecting challenges faced by the entirety of Greater London, it has grouped these into seven key priorities: a new deal for young people; supporting a green recovery; unlock housing and growth through infrastructure; Global London; and strong local public services. Crucially, these priorities are not only guided by Londoners’ needs, but packaged up so as to align with key Government agendas. You can find the summary in the latest edition of their Key Issues newsletter, which you may find (and sign up to) here. London Councils will also be making the case for London as part of the levelling up agenda at both the Labour and Conservative Party Conferences, at events which will be addressed by a Who’s Who of London political leaders – LCA will be there too (more on which below).
SHARING IS CARING
Business advocates London First launched a new London Data Charter on the first day of London Tech Week. The Charter, drawn up by law firm Pinsent Masons, provides a framework for businesses ‘to share data to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing the capital’, by setting out guiding principles for private and public sector data collaborations. The initiative has been heartily endorsed by London’s Chief Digital Officer Theo Blackwell and big-hitters already committed to the Charter include Arup, BP, BT, Grant Thornton, Lloyds Banking Group, Microsoft, Oliver Wyman Forum, Pinsent Masons, Thames Water, Uber, and UK Power Networks, with many more expected to endorse the Charter in the coming months.
LCA could not be prouder to have played a part in making the UK’s first LGBT+ affirming retirement community a reality and we were absolutely delighted to attend the official the ribbon-cutting ceremony for our client Tonic Housing’s Bankhouse scheme on Monday. Our Chairman Robert Gordon Clark was on hand to introduce the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan himself, who cut the rainbow-coloured ribbon alongside his Deputy Mayor for Housing Tom Copley and local MP Florence Eshalomi. This is a project long in-the-making and supported by the Greater London Authority, One Housing and a host of other organisations. We also had a roaringly good time at the subsequent launch party, held at the Above The Stag Theatre & Bar, which included a fabulous performance by drag queen Soroya Marchelle.
CONFERENCE SEASON, COMMENCE!
This weekend’s Labour Party Conference will be, crucially, the first in-person conference for Keir Starmer as leader of the Party. As ever, LCA is dispatching a crack squad of politicos to the Conference and if you are down in Brighton over the weekend, you may bump into Board Director Jane Groom, Senior Advisor Paddy Hennessy, or Account Manager Avnesh Modhvadia. Some of the LCA team will also be in Manchester in early October for the Conservative Party Conference – we hope to catch up with some of you there as well!
LCA @ LREF
Next week, LDN Editor Jenna Goldberg (also, in her spare time, an LCA Board Director) is chairing not one, but two events at this year’s London Real Estate Forum, to be held at the Barbican Centre on 29 – 30 September. On Day 1 of the conference, she will be talking all things Canada Water with British Land’s Emma Cariaga and David Walters, TEDI London’s Professor Judy Raper, and Global Generation’s Jane Riddiford. And on Day 2, she will be joining LSE’s Professor Tony Travers and others for a roundtable discussion on ‘Creating jobs, opportunities and developing local skills’ in London, which will explore what actions can be taken to ensure local policy enables our global city to continue to evolve and flourish.
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