'It is now nearly 11 months since the Partygate story broke in the Daily Mirror (on 30 November 2021, to be exact). It can safely be argued that since then the government, as we used to know it, has stood still. In less than a year, we have witnessed a succession of scandals, three Prime Ministers, four Chancellors and three wider Cabinet reshuffles – with the latest still ongoing as we go to print. The damage this has done is impossible to quantify, but in effect a whole year has been lost. Unlike COVID (but like Brexit), this has been almost entirely self-inflicted by the Conservative government.
It is no surprise therefore that opposition parties continue to call for a General Election. But that won’t happen. What we all need now is a period of progress with government legislation, for example the long running Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill (LURB) – especially as the new PM gave a “cast iron commitment to levelling up” at PMQs earlier today.
Meanwhile the world watches as we manage the “profound economic crisis” (to use Sunak's own words) we are in. Headlines from media across the globe have portrayed the UK in a very negative light. Investors have referred to the UK as “un-investible”. Even Guy Hands appears to have lost all faith in the UK. And City AM reported that a record £27.9bn was pulled from the UK in September.
So for ‘growth, growth, growth’ can we now please have ‘stability, stability, stability’.'
LCA Partner and Senior Adviser 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 firstname.lastname@example.org to your contacts or ‘safe sender’ list – this will help ensure our news bulletin lands in your inbox.
RISHI RULES RESHUFFLE
The new PM and Cabinet are… eerily familiar, which may explain why they’ve been greeted by most with weary – and wary – relief. Sunak’s win saw markets react ‘calmly’ and generated relatively upbeat headlines. In London, reactions have been somewhat cooler. Early comments from Mayor Sadiq Khan, London Councils, BusinessLDN, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Centre for London and RIBA are largely reserved. As for Sunak’s Cabinet, ten of Truss’ 22 Secretaries of State have made it through, seven of whom in the exact same posts, whilst a critical mass of ‘new joiners’ are actually Boris Johnson-era stalwarts, back from a short spell on the backbenches. From our perspective, the most significant of these is Michael Gove MP, who replaces Simon Clarke at Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, a department he shaped as its first Secretary of State between September 2021 and July 2022. Our readers will remember him as the architect of the Levelling Up White Paper and Levelling Up & Regeneration Bill, the enforcer of the Building Safety Act, and the man who ditched most of the Planning for the Future White Paper's proposals. For some sound commentary on the possible implications of Gove’s return for London, check out Nick Bowes’ early reflections.
Looking ahead, the ongoing process of appointing junior ministers is likely to take a few days, whilst the news that Sunak has delayed the Medium Term Financial Statement from 31 October to 17 November, to be an Autumn Statement. All of which promises more political panto (and possible economic ructions) in the weeks ahead.
A RED-GREEN MAYOR?
While most of us have been focused on the latest goings on in Westminster of late, our Mayor has taken the opportunity to go abroad. Last week he jetted off to Buenos Aires to chair the C40 summit which saw the leaders of 96 cities from around the world gather to discuss climate change. While the Mayor’s trip attracted some criticism, he defended the journey as an opportunity to ‘steal’ good ideas from other cities to support the retrofitting, green finance and air quality agendas. However back at home, the Mayor has implied that the planned expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) could be delayed due to the cost of living crisis. He will be making a final decision by the end of the year. Research carried out by the RAC has found that in its current form the ULEZ raised £93.6m over eight months, while warning that many drivers with non-compliant vehicles will struggle to pay the daily charge of £12.50 amid the cost of living crisis. The Mayor isn’t alone in seeking a cleaner, greener city – London Councils’ Chair Georgia Gould was a prominent speaker at yesterday’s Cities Commission for Climate Investment summit at the Guildhall.
LONDON PLANNING ROUNDUP
- The two-week planning inquiry into Marks & Spencer’s proposals to demolish and redevelop its Oxford Street store started this week. Owners of the department store company Selfridges have announced their support of the proposals, saying M&S plays an important role in ‘maintaining Oxford Street as the UK’s national shop window’.
- Outgoing Levelling Up Secretary Simon Clarke has intervened to reduce the scope of Article 4 directions proposed by Lambeth (and also Harlow Council, just outside London), which are intended to exempt areas from the new ‘Class MA’ Permitted Development Rights.
- Following the approval of Bellway’s plans for 100 homes on the former London Electricity Sports and Social Association (LESSA) in Merton in September, Conservative MP for Wimbledon Stephen Hammond says he has ‘written to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up to make sure this application is called in.’
- Barnet Council has decided that the Grade 2-listed Hendon Library will remain in its current location and will not be relocated. The announcement comes after the council’s Labour administration agreed to review the Hendon Hub proposals following its victory in the local elections in May.
- Residents have approved a new Roman Road Bow Neighbourhood Plan in a referendum held by Tower Hamlets Council.
- Plans by Developer EID (General Partner) for a pair of residential skyscrapers in Tower Hamlets have been refused. The plans comprised 716 student homes (35% affordable) and 150 build-to-rent homes (37.5% affordable) in 30 and 36-storey blocks. Tower Hamlets' Strategic Development Committee voted to reject the application – against a recommendation to approve – on the grounds of scale, design and impact on the local conservation area.
- Ealing Council has approved Mount Anvil and Catalyst’s revised proposals to redevelop Friary Park in Acton with 1,228 homes (455 of which will be affordable) and commercial workspace (40% affordable).
- Hammersmith & Fulham Council has refused Women’s Pioneer Housing and Hub’s plans for 60 affordable homes and 209 mixed-tenure co-living units in an 18-storey block near White City. The committee voted against officers’ recommendation to approve, on the grounds of scale, energy efficiency and impact on the local area.
- Enfield’s planning committee has approved detailed plans for 274 homes (100% affordable) in four blocks up to 16-storeys tall on a former gasholder site within the Meridian Water scheme.
- Enfield’s planning committee has meanwhile voted to defer (for the second time) a decision on Yen of London Ltd’s proposed 21-storey tower for 100 homes plus retail and office space, on the site of a derelict pub in Green Street. Officers had recommended it for refusal on multiple grounds, largely related to building and fire safety.
- Fabrix have secured Southwark Council’s approval for the redevelopment of a former crown court into an office block featuring a ‘rooftop forest’. The Roots in the Sky project will comprise 385,000 square feet of office space, rooftop bar, restaurant and swimming pool, as well as more than 100 trees, 10,000 plants ‘and a colony of stag beetles.’
- Crystal Palace FC have secured planning permission from Croydon Council for amended plans to increase Selhurst Park’s capacity to more than 34,000 and make other improvements to the stadium’s facilities (see also press release).
- Rightmove has appointed Johan Svanström to replace Peter Brooks-Johnson as CEO from March 2023.
- Urban Land Institute has appointed Ron Pressman as its Global Chief Executive. Pressman was most recently Chief Executive at TIAA Institutional Financial Services.
- The Crown Estate has appointed Kristy Lansdown as Head of Development leading the London Team, James Atherton as Development Director and Andy Goodenough as Commercial and Cost Director.
- Hines has hired Battersea Power Station's Tom Cazelet as a Development Director to lead on its £1bn Blackfriars Road scheme.
- Build-to-rent investment, development and management company Cortland has hired Tracey Hartley as its COO for Europe. She joins from JLL and previously the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.
- Former Avant Homes Chief Executive Mark Mitchell has launched a new Sheffield-based housebuilder Honey.
- Carter Jonas has appointed Matt Lee as Head of Science and Technology. He joins from Manchester University Foundation Trust.
- Prologis UK has hired Jason Longhurst as UK Head of Sustainable Investment and Development. He joins from Bradford City Metropolitan District Council.
- VervLife has hired Leo Glass as Director of BTR and Rachel Golby as Head of Property.
- Camden Labour Cabinet Member for New Homes, Jobs and Community Investment Cllr Danny Beales has announced he is running to be Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Boris Johnson’s Uxbridge & South Ruislip seat.
- Bexley Conservative Cllr John Davey has been suspended from his party’s council group and deleted his Twitter account following posts asking for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to be sent back to Iran.
COUNCIL FINANCE CRUNCH
Local government may not be glamorous, but it’s damned important – and presents incoming Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove with one of his biggest challenges. Barring the unlikely eventuality of a sudden economic boom, local authorities up and down the country are facing major inflationary pressures. No wonder then, that the Chancellor’s talk of ‘efficiencies savings’ has, in the words of LGA Chair Cllr James Jamieson, ‘sent a collective shiver down the spine of local government.’ Last week we conveyed London Councils’ call for ‘immediate emergency funding’ to boost adult social care provision and for a delay to planned reforms of adult social care funding. For anyone who might think they’re exaggerating, see plans by councils including Merton and Hounslow to expand access to heated public buildings over the winter, just so vulnerable residents can maximise time spent in warmth. Meanwhile, boroughs from Croydon to Southwark are scrounging for funds to expand free school meals programmes. The upcoming Spending Review for 2023/24 will put Gove in an uncomfortable position, as the intermediary between local authorities clamouring for support and a Treasury demanding savings – provisional settlements for local Government are usually issued in December, with the process generally finalised in February.
The past week has offered us yet more reminders of how complex the delivery of new infrastructure can be. Monday finally saw the opening of Bond Street station, dubbed the ‘jewel in the crown’, to much fanfare. Yet, this one Elizabeth Line station has cost a total of £680m, £570m over the original budget. Meanwhile in Greenwich, the Council is facing a £6.2m shortfall on its contribution to the delivery of its own new Elizabeth Line station in Woolwich. The funding was to come from a ‘roof tax’ on developments as well as from the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), but the timing of introduction and level of these rates appear to have failed to raise the requisite amount. Greenwich Leader Cllr Anthony Okereke has pledged that the borough will revise its CIL rates, though in the meantime the Council will have to use CIL funds allocated to other projects to plug the gap. Also in Greenwich, the Planning Board’s elected members were told that they will not be permitted to decide on plans for the borough’s Silvertown Tunnel entrance… given that so many of them have already stated that they oppose the project overall. The decision will be made by officers instead.
HEALTH COMMS LATEST
Two important and innovative public health campaigns recently launched in the capital deserve a shoutout. As part of the Restart a Heart campaign, LCA client Brentford F.C. teamed up with Resuscitation Council UK and Pablo London to create a heart-shaped ‘CPQR code’ which featured on players’ shirts at the match versus Chelsea last week, and throughout the stadium. It directs people to a short instructional video on how to do cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) – encouraging millions watching around the world to learn the basics of CPR, a crucial live-saving technique. The campaign is part of the Club’s partnership with local charities to improve heart health in the local area, called The Heart of West London. London’s boroughs meanwhile also launched their latest HIV prevention campaign through Do It London, supported by London Councils. The campaign will run until 12 December and raises awareness of the effectiveness of the four methods of prevention, targeting those Londoners who are disproportionately affected by HIV. It builds on hugely successfully past campaigns, which have arguably contributed to remarkable progress in reducing new HIV diagnoses by no less than 66% between 2015 and 2021.
Strikes are expected to continue to impact the capital in the next few weeks. See below our indicative roundup of sectors affected by industrial action in the coming days.
London bus workers employed by Go-Ahead have meanwhile called off a strike after they secured a 10.5% pay increase.
LCA OUT AND ABOUT
Last week, LCA Partner, Managing Director of Insight and LDN Editor Jenna Goldberg appeared on ITV London to comment on what Liz Truss’ resignation as Prime Minister and the Conservatives’ performance in the polls mean for the capital. Separately, New London Architecture has published Jenna’s writeup of her impressions of the Opportunity London Investment Summit. The event, which was held late last month as part of the annual London Real Estate Forum, brought together leaders from across sectors, to learn more about the Opportunity London initiative delivered in partnership by New London Architecture, London & Partners and LCA.
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 email@example.com.
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.