At a challenging time, the London Society’s “Love Letters to London” competition provides a welcome distraction and opportunity to remember that our capital has many things to enjoy and cherish.
Sponsored by our old friends at Almacantar, architects Stiff + Trevillion and ftwork, the competition is open until 23:59 on Tuesday 30 November. There are prizes for under 18s, for students, and for the rest of the UK, as well as an international prize and one for poetry. Details here.
Meanwhile, there’s news of a major acquisition in the property industry, a mixed bag on infrastructure – bad news on rail and air, slightly better for TfL – and an apparent squeeze in the construction supply chain nationally. We also have a summary of industry response to the Budget and finally, word of a ‘boom’, the good kind, in investment and perception of the capital.
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COP26 AND OTHER CLIMATE SUMMITS
Like thousands of others, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has been in Glasgow over the past few days for COP26 - but also held a mini-summit of his own too in London. Before boarding his (eco-friendly) train to Glasgow, the Mayor and Leader of London Councils Cllr Georgia Gould convened the London Climate Summit, where Sadiq Khan announced the £7.5m Future Neighbourhoods 2030 programme which will support projects to improve air quality and tackle climate change. He then led a delegation of mayors representing 12 other international cities on the journey to Scotland, saying that they were heading to the conference to demand stronger action on climate change from political leaders. Once there, the Mayor was formally confirmed as the new Chair of the C40 cities group and he announced that two thirds of the group’s budget will now be dedicated to efforts to tackle climate change in the Global South, as well as an expansion of the C40’s Global Green New Deal programme. The Mayor also continued to plug London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), which was extended to the North and South Circular last week, dubbing it a ‘great success’ and asserting that several mayors from across the globe have said that they want to recreate it in their cities. The Mayor, the City of London Corporation and Camden Council have also in recent days launched a new campaign to urge drivers to stop unnecessarily idling.
No doubt in part buoyed by West Ham’s current success on the pitch, the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) has granted permission for an increase in the capacity of the London Stadium to 62,500, up from 60,000.
Councillors in Enfield rejected plans by Social Capital Partners for 113 affordable homes, citing their objection to the low number of family-sized homes proposed for the development with only 19 of the 113 being three-beds.
In Ealing, long standing plans for 564 new homes have finally been given the green light. 50% of the homes at The Green in Southall, by Peabody in partnership with the Council, will be affordable and the proposals also include new public spaces.
Oh and something for the housing geeks: the GLA has published its annual Housing in London report, setting out the evidence for the Mayor’s housing strategies, including a host of information about the capital’s housing stock, supply, affordability and needs.
LANDSEC TO BUY U+I
FTSE 100-listed landlord Landsec is set to buy specialist regeneration company U+I Group. The planned £190m purchase is intended to accelerate Landsec’s strategic expansion beyond a portfolio traditionally focused on offices and shopping centres, prioritising more mixed-use city-centre developments. U+I brings with it ample expertise in this area, as well as a number of live projects – including, in London, Morden Wharf in Greenwich and Landmark Court in Southwark. No surprise then, that Landsec is intent on pushing these flagship projects through the development pipeline, while reports suggest ‘most of the U+I team’ will stay on following formal completion of the purchase. U+I’s executive leadership and board support the sale and it is expected that its shareholders will approve the deal by Christmas.
THE OTHER MAYORS
LCA is as ever keeping an ear to the ground for candidate selection news in advance of the 2022 borough elections. The current Leader of Croydon Council Cllr Hamida Ali has ruled herself out of standing as Labour’s candidate for the new mayoralty of the borough. Val Shawcross, previously London’s Deputy Mayor for Transport, before that an Assembly Member and before that leader of Croydon, has officially launched her bid for the candidacy with a campaign website. Croydon councillor Jamie Audsley, who reportedly had his application to stand in next year’s local elections rejected after he campaigned in favour of a directly-elected mayor for Croydon, has also put his name forward. As for London’s other directly-elected Mayors, incumbent Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville has already been reselected as Labour’s candidate for 2022, with John Biggs also having been reselected as the Labour candidate for Mayor of Tower Hamlets – and it remains to be seen whether the incumbents in Newham and Lewisham formally throw their hat into the ring again.
The Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) latest report on Crossrail published last week found that the project may face a yet further £150m funding shortfall. The PAC report is also critical of the lack of clarity surrounding the opening dates for the both the central section and the entirety of what will, once opened, be known as the Elizabeth Line.
Plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport have hit a bump in the road after Spanish investor Ferrovial, the airport’s biggest shareholder, said that it would not contribute any more funding - reportedly making the decision after the Civil Aviation Authority blocked plans to increase landing charges at the airport.
Following last month’s reports that the Department for Transport withdrew support for a new train station on the 3,000-home Beam Park development in Barking & Dagenham, Transport Minister Chris Heaton-Harris has now said that the Government never actually supported the station in the first place.
...BUT BETTER NEWS FOR TFL
Transport for London has announced that full services will resume on the Waterloo & City line from 22 November – a welcome sign that the connection between the City and ‘London’s busiest station’ is coming back to life.
TfL has meanwhile reportedly asked consultants on its Engineering Consultancy Framework to work on designs for the tunnels of the Bakerloo Line Extension – a project which was understood to have been shelved due to the uncertainty surrounding TfL’s finances. Earlier this year, TfL safeguarded land in South London required for the Extension, which would see the line run from Elephant & Castle to Lewisham.
The Office for Budget Responsibility has said that the taxpayer may have to permanently subsidise public transport going forward due to the number of people who will continue working from home on a regular basis, leading to a sustained drop in revenue from passengers – potentially giving TfL’s request for a longer term funding settlement a boost.
- Cllr Andreas Kirsch has been appointed as Kingston’s new Leader by the council’s ruling Liberal Democrat group.
- Nick Belsten has joined hgh Consulting as Executive Director. He was previously WSP’s London Director.
Bexley councillors Louie French (Conservative) and Daniel Francis (Labour) have been selected to run as their parties’ parliamentary candidates for the upcoming Old Bexley and Sidcup by-election – whose date is expected to be announced soon.
Ghislaine Halpenny, formerly the British Property Federation's director of strategy and external affairs (BFP), has been appointed Head of Corporate Affairs at Regal London.
THE BUDGET (CONT'D)
Our last edition covered London’s cool reaction to the Chancellor’s statement. A week on, it is clear that the wider built environment sector was similarly unenthused. Industry representatives cited by the Financial Times variously described Rishi Sunak’s ‘multi-year housing settlement totalling nearly £24bn’ as ‘vague’, ‘underwhelming’ and ‘a bit of a damp squib’. That is unsurprising, considering that the lion’s share of that sum – including £11.5bn for the 2021-26 Affordable Homes Programme – was little more than Sunak ‘reconfirming’ previous spending pledges. Estates Gazette did find some property sector spokespeople who were optimistic about the few actual new pots of funding mentioned in the statement, including a £1.8bn brownfield fund boost and an additional £65m to support digital planning, but also cited widespread concerns about ‘missed opportunities’. As reported by The Times, the now-confirmed 4% Residential Property Development Tax on firms earning more than £25m in profits annually, to help pay for the costs of cladding remediation, elicited a range of reactions – being too much for some and too little for others. The response from key sector associations like the British Property Federation and London Property Alliance was fairly diplomatic, but both were noticeably disappointed that business rates relief was not linked to wider and deeper reforms. As for the Budget’s provisions for greening the built environment, the Royal Institute of British Architects and the UK Green Building Council did not mince their words, calling it ‘out of sync’ and ‘disappointing’.
Government and industry may now seem to have addressed the bottlenecks that recently caused tailbacks at petrol stations, but concerns are now mounting about the construction sector’s supply chains. The Construction Leadership Council has warned that factors such as an ongoing shortage of HGV drivers, issues affecting maritime shipping, high energy costs, and limited manufacturing capacity will adversely affect the availability (and price) of building materials for many months ahead. The Construction Products Association has meanwhile released forecasts suggesting that growth in construction output will be ‘almost a quarter down on previous forecasts next year’. Supply chain issues are already beginning to bite: a separate CPA survey saw the vast majority of manufacturers reporting increasing energy and materials costs in the third quarter, while a survey by the Federation of Masters Builders has found that staggering 82% of respondents delayed work in the same period due to material shortages - and perhaps even more worryingly, some 60% said they had to stop work on certain projects due to the shortage of construction workers. More specifically from London’s angle, a recent report on ‘green jobs’ commissioned by the four sub-regional groups of boroughs (Central London Forward, South London Partnership, West London Alliance and Local London) suggests that demand for construction skill, particularly in areas such as retrofitting and building heating, is set to grow dramatically in the years ahead.
THE GOOD NEWS
Then again, as the Chancellor was at pains to explain during his statement, supply issues are not specific to Britain alone – and have been caused, in large part, by soaring demand. London certainly seems to be experiencing a bit of a boom. Lloyds Bank’s latest businesses barometer survey suggests that 65% of London businesses are now optimistic about their medium term prospects, up by a decent three percentage points over the last month. And from a property investment angle more specifically, the capital is doing pretty well too. According to a survey of industry executives commissioned by the Urban Land Institute and PwC, the UK’s capital has ‘beaten off competition from Paris and Berlin to become the highest ranked European city for property investment’. These surveys serve as an apt reminder that London is a major gateway for investment into the UK – and that achieving a ‘levelled up’ and ‘global’ Britain very much depend on prosperous London. But is Whitehall listening?
LCA SELLS IN
LCA’s media relations specialists have brought in an especially rich haul of headlines for our clients over the last few days. Last week, we worked with our client HKS to achieve coverage of their Director of Education’s reaction to the Budget statement. Alfonso Padro’s comment responded to the government’s announcements around funding for skills and education, highlighting the need for spaces that allow pupils to flourish whilst also addressing the net zero agenda – and coverage was achieved in Building and Building Design, amongst other high profile voices. Our team also worked with our long-standing client Quintain to secure the front page of Estates Gazette’s BtR supplement last week. Residential editor Emma Rosser sat down with Quintain Living’s COO Danielle Bayless to discuss all things Wembley Park and how the learnings she brings from the US market are contributing to shaping the sector in the UK. Grab your copy while you can, or have a read on EG’s website. Meanwhile, we’ve continued to secure coverage for Stride Treglown’s striking Sinking House project in Bath, including pieces in Architects Journal, The Guardian and even in The Atlantic, whilst coverage has also been spotted in China, Portugal and Greece.
The Ethical Property Foundation (EPF), the charity that provides free and low cost property advice to voluntary sector organisations, is looking for a new Trustee to join its Board. As well as normal duties the new Trustee will Chair the Editorial Board for EPF’s new Resources Hub and should be a qualified property professional ideally with experience of working with small organisations. If you have around 1.5 days per month you could use to help charities with their property issues please contact CEO Antonia Swinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0792 065 0530. And you can find out more about the work of EPF here.
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