“By the time we publish our next edition, on Wednesday 7 September, we will have a new PM, Cabinet and probably Junior Ministers. We will of course analyse what these appointments might mean for London in future editions. We might also have a TfL funding settlement by then (cease, my beating heart).
Having been up at the Edinburgh Festival last week and seen the impact of the refuse workers’ strike, I was taken back to being a 17 year old in London during the winter of discontent in 1978/79 when rubbish littered the capital’s streets for weeks. Combine the current, growing numbers of strikes (now including criminal barristers, rail, post and ports) with the ongoing energy crisis, and memories of the three day week in January 1974, when TV stopped broadcasting at 22:30 every night, and you have to wonder what sort of autumn and winter we are about to face.
Back in 1974 Edward Heath, the embattled Conservative Prime Minister, decided to hold a snap election under the heading “who runs the country?”. The answer was “not you” as the Tories failed to secure a majority and Labour ran a minority administration, upped the pay to the striking miners (by 35%) and held an autumn election which they won with a majority. Jump forward to 1979 and Labour were subsequently trounced by Thatcher’s Tories following that winter of discontent.
Recent polling is now showing Labour regularly over 10% ahead and, given these historical precedents, a snap election seems highly unlikely to me. But with the energy crisis only getting worse and relations between the unions and employers showing no signs of resolution, 2022/23 could make 1973/74 and 1978/79 seem like a picnic."
LCA Founder and Senior Advisor, Robert Gordon Clark
We hope you enjoy this edition and if you don't already, do follow us on Twitter and Instagram and feel free to visit our website for more information on LCA’s team, services, and clients.
Oh and a technical note: If you like hearing from us, make sure to add email@example.com to your contacts or ‘safe sender’ list – this will help ensure our news bulletin lands in your inbox.
Going in to the final two weeks of the Conservative Party leadership contest, Liz Truss’ lead over Rishi Sunak looks unassailable. The latest YouGov polling puts the Foreign Secretary 32 points ahead, while Opinium suggests a narrower but still commanding lead of 22 points. Barring any monumental mistakes on Truss’ part, polling expert Sir John Curtice has given former Chancellor Sunak just a 5% chance of victory. With all the latest polling signalling a Truss win, the media has shifted its focus to potential Cabinet appointments, policy priorities and immediate challenges. The Times has covered speculation that current Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng is likely to be appointed Chancellor, while Jacob Rees-Mogg is being mooted as the next Levelling Up Secretary, which may well include housing. While few new policy announcements have been made recently, Truss has pledged to scrap ‘Brussels red tape’ such as net neutrality requirements in a bid to boost housebuilding. Any celebrations will be short-lived amid new inflation forecasts and an increase in the energy price cap. The new Prime Minister will be under pressure to hit the ground running to address the cost-of-living crisis and kickstart economic recovery.
While Transport for London and the Government are yet to come to an agreement about funding, it does look like there will be some progress next week. The TfL Board is now set to meet on 30 August to make a decision on the Department for Transport’s offer, the details of which are not yet known – hopefully we are able to bring you more on this in our next edition. In some positive transport-related news for London, TfL has announced that the Elizabeth Line’s central section and lines from Reading, Heathrow and Shenfield will be joined up in November. Bond Street station is also expected to open ahead of this next phase, which will also see increased operating hours and the introduction of more frequent services. Away from TfL’s transport services, the Guardian has covered TfL’s ambitious housing delivery plans. As the third biggest landowner in the capital, TfL plans to deliver 20,000 new homes across the capital over the next decade, half of which will be affordable.
SADIQ UNDER PRESSURE
The Mayor of London is under intense scrutiny after a spike of horrific violence plagued the capital this past week. It has been hard to keep up with the number of violent crimes recently reported, but the senseless murder of 87-year-old grandfather Thomas O’Halloran is one that instantly comes to mind. Sadiq Khan’s comments attributing hotter temperatures and school holidays to the spike in violence were not well-received, with the likes of Sky News subjecting the Mayor to uncomfortable questioning on the matter, while former Home Secretary Sajid Javid suggested that Londoners have been ‘let down’ by the Mayor, saying that ‘there is always an excuse in Sadiq’s world’. In response to criticism, the Mayor has highlighted that he is investing ‘record sums’ in programmes to keep young people busy this summer, including £2m of new funding to support children and young people at risk of being exploited by criminal gangs as part of the London Gang Exit Programme. It is clear that much more needs be done to keep Londoners safe, especially as the Mayor expects violent crime to increase due to the worsening cost-of-living crisis.
LONDON PLANNING ROUNDUP
The GLA has opted against calling in CO-RE and Mitsubishi’s plans to redevelop ITV’s former London studios on the South Bank, upholding Lambeth Council’s decision to grant planning consent last March. However, former Housing Secretary Michael Gove issued an Article 31
on the application in May this year, meaning that the Government will have the final say.
Camden Council has approved RE Capital’s proposals for a 12-storey residential development in Fitzrovia which will deliver four luxury apartments and affordable workspace on the ground and lower ground floors.
Richmond councillors have approved amended plans for the redevelopment of the old Richmond upon Thames College buildings that will deliver educational and sports facilities, alongside 180 homes, 50% of which will be affordable.
Native Land has said it will appeal the refusal of its 60-home Kilmuir House scheme in Belgravia. The scheme was rejected by Westminster City Council as it failed to ‘include adequate provision of affordable housing’.
Navees Rahman has been appointed as interim Chief Executive of the Planning Inspectorate and will take over from current CEO Sarah Richards when she steps down in the autumn.
Subject to Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) approval, Dean Bowden is set to succeed Mike O’Donnell as Chief Executive of London CIV in November.
Flexible workspace provider IWG has appointed Charlie Steel as its new Chief Financial Officer following the resignation of Glyn Hughes.
Lichfields has hired Pippa Nisbet as a new Planning Director from JLL.
Anne Pitcher is set to step down from her role as Managing Director of Selfridges at the end of the year after the completion of the department store group’s sale.
London TravelWatch has announced its search for a new Chief Executive Officer.
SPOTLIGHT ON OXFORD STREET
Oxford Street has been the centre of attention in the press over the last few weeks, and not necessarily for the right reasons. Westminster City Council has said that its plans to create a pedestrian ‘piazza’ at Oxford Circus have been scrapped, while it has also ruled out – for now - the long-mooted pedestrianisation of the street, with the borough’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Development Cllr Geoff Barraclough saying that it is ‘not the right thing to do at the moment’. Setting out the local authority’s vision for the future, Barraclough said that Oxford Street needs to become home to leisure, hospitality and culture, as well as retail. The Council is also currently in the process of investigating the 30 American candy stores which have appeared on the street. As outlined by the Financial Times, the identities of the owners of these shops are hard to track down, meaning that collecting property taxes has become ‘almost impossible’. The Council has estimated that it is owed £7.9m in taxes from these shops. There are however some positive signs, with the Council having announced funding of £150m for improvements to the area and the opening of the Elizabeth Line station at Bond Street expected to increase footfall to the area.
In even more positive news, the central London office market is recovering well with record sales and bumper redevelopment schemes being put in motion. According to Savills, sales of office and mixed-use land for the first half of 2022 increased by 143% compared with the same period last year – turnover for the first half was 30% higher than the 10-year average. Savills has said the surge in sales is driven by demand for development sites and completions from 2022 to 2026 are forecast to reach 30.4m sq ft. Leasing activity in central London is also going strong according Savills, as take-up of office space in the City of London and the West End exceeded the 10-year average by 8% and 13% respectively in the first half of 2022. However, according to CoStar, vacant office space in the capital has increased by over 50% since the pandemic started due to the shift towards hybrid working models. However, all the office space vacated over the pandemic was of poor quality, typically with grade B rating or below, while demand for grade A space is outpacing supply – highlighting the importance of high quality spaces to retain staff and meet ESG commitments.
FIRST 100 DAYS
With it being 100 days since the local elections, London’s local authorities have been marking their achievements so far. In Westminster, the Labour Council has said that it has implemented a number of measures as part of its aim to create a fairer borough, such as ‘investigating’ increasing the amount of affordable housing on its developments and launching the Future of Westminster Commission, which will give the borough’s residents a greater say in the Council’s decisions. Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz has also marked the first 100 days since the election, saying that she has appointed a ‘Getting Stuff Done’ Cabinet and highlighting the launch of a cladding action campaign. In Barnet, new Labour Leader Cllr Barry Rawlings has said that in its draft Local Plan, the Council has proposed tougher policies on building heights, as well as a 50% target for affordable housing. As for Wandsworth, the new Labour Council has said that it has started the delivery of 1,000 new council homes as well as more electric vehicle charging points across the borough.
552 MILES CHALLENGE
LCA has put forward three teams to participate in the 552 miles challenge to raise money for The National Network of Abortion Funds following the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade. On the week commencing 12 September, the participating teams will be setting out to cover a distance of 552 miles, the average distance a US woman will now have to travel to access a safe abortion, through walking, cycling, running or swimming. If you would like to support our teams or take part in the challenge yourself, then please visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/in-their-shoes-fundraising1
LCA prides itself on its intelligence-led approach to PR and communications and our dedicated insight 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.
If you would like to know more about anything covered in this or any other edition of LDN or if you would like to know more about LCA please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
We strive for balance and accuracy at all times; however, if you feel we have made a mistake, omission or have misrepresented a story or issue please alert the team by contacting the LDN team by using the details above.