“Trust is an important attribute in politics, as it is in life in general. And trust in our public services is vital to a healthy society. Which is why the recent damning report into the London Fire Brigade, so soon after further erosion of trust in the Met Police, is so concerning. And trust is an underlying theme of this week’s packed LDN.
Can Khan trust Labour to re-select him as their candidate for 2024? Can London trust that introducing a London-wide ULEZ will not lead to a massive economic hit on those who can least afford to pay? Can we trust the government to finally deliver the LURB? Can we trust the data coming from the census (or recommendations from the new Data for London advisory board), upon which decisions need to be made? And can we trust our social housing providers to deliver the accommodation and services residents expect?
What we can be sure about is that Christmas is coming and we trust you enjoy this edition, which includes great news for the National Gallery, Mount Anvil and Newlon, super seasonal plans for the Eastern City Bid, and a raft of awards for the architectural world.”
LCA Senior Advisor and Partner Robert Gordon Clark
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Sadiq Khan’s bid to run for a third term as Mayor in 2024 has kicked off in earnest, with a ‘trigger ballot’ now underway. The Labour Party’s London region has notified its local branches and affiliates, who will now put his candidacy to a vote of their members, with the process expected to conclude by Christmas and possibly sooner. To be re-reselected without having to face opposing candidates, Khan will need to be endorsed by a majority of the city’s 73 Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs), as well as unions and other affiliated groups. For the moment, he looks very much like a shoo-in, but… First, his re-selection process coincides with ongoing, often-contentious selections for Labour’s parliamentary candidates – and he may get caught in the crossfire, as have some of the aspiring parliamentary candidates he backed. Second, Khan himself comes carrying baggage – two terms in, there may be decisions and policies that could come back to haunt him (think ULEZ, more on which below) forcing him to fight harder for his re-selection than he might have expected. And third, OnLondon ably explains why beyond re-selection, his re-election to an historic third term in 2024 is not entirely a given either. Aside from Khan himself, the more astute London-watchers will also be keeping a close eye on his coterie of Deputy Mayors and his inner circle of advisors – will they still be with him through the selection process and a possible re-election campaign in 2024, or will they be replaced by new faces?
The Mayor has confirmed that the long-mooted expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone to cover the whole of the capital is to go ahead. From August 2023, anyone driving into London in a non-compliant vehicle will have to pay a £12.50 daily charge. The news of the expansion was – not coincidentally, we assume – accompanied by a pledge that bus services would be improved in Outer London, while most of TfL’s proposed bus service cuts have also been scrapped. The GLA also unveiled a report suggesting that the Mayor’s various vehicle scrappage schemes have been ‘successful in reducing emissions and car ownership and increasing the use of public transport’, while the Mayor announced plans for the installation of 100 more ultra-rapid electric vehicle charging points on TfL’s road network. The expansion has naturally been welcomed by air quality campaigners, but not everyone is pleased. Four (Conservative-led) Outer London boroughs have issued a statement saying that they will ‘resist its implementation by using all means at their disposal’ – and they are not alone. The GLA Conservatives, as well as motorists groups and some SMEs, residents and others have expressed concerns about the expansion’s impact on the cost of living and doing business in London during TfL’s relevant consultation.
LONDON PLANNING ROUNDUP
- The City of London Corporation has submitted a private bill to Parliament. The legislation is needed to unlock plans for moving Billingsgate Market and the London Central Markets to Dagenham and in turn enable the West Smithfield site’s redevelopment for use by the Museum of London.
- Lord Bob Kerslake’s review into affordable housing delivery in Lambeth has recommended that Homes for Lambeth, the council’s private development company, should be disbanded and brought in-house.
- Lambeth Council has approved Hotchkiss’ plans for an 872-bed hotel in Vauxhall. A Texaco petrol station will be redeveloped to make way for the new hotel’s 29-storey and 26-storey towers.
- The Royal Borough of Kingston has launched a consultation on the first draft of its new Local Plan, which outlines the vision for the borough up to 2041 (which seems a long way off to us). The consultation will run until 28 February 2023.
- Tottenham Hotspur FC’s proposals for an 867-home (35% affordable) development near their stadium have been approved by a Planning inspector at appeal. Haringey Council had rejected the scheme last year.
- Westminster City Council has approved MARK’s mixed-use development proposals for 31 new homes, 90,000 sq ft of offices and 21,000 sq ft of retail space across a six-storey building in Bayswater. The building is expected to be London’s largest timber building.
- Freshwater’s proposals for an 11-storey office development on 96-98 George Street in East Croydon have been approved by Croydon Council.
- Ealing’s planning committee has approved the redevelopment of Ealing Studios – the existing facilities will be replaced by new studio space, plus offices and workshops. The studio is thought to be ‘one of the world’s oldest’.
- Northern & Shell is reportedly set to submit a third application for its 1,200 home mixed-use scheme at the Westferry Printworks site in the Isle of Dogs. The developer’s previous proposals were rejected in 2020 amid a cash-for-access scandal and following opposition from the Planning Inspectorate and Tower Hamlets Council.
LONDON INFRASTRUCTURE SPECIAL
- Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea and Wandsworth have joined forces to lobby for funding for Cremorne Bridge. Previously known as the Diamond Jubilee Bridge, it’s a proposed river crossing for cyclists and pedestrians connecting Battersea and Fulham.
- Waltham Forest Council has announced plans for a new lido at Low Hall Sports Ground, in a first step towards delivering on a promise made to residents in the run up to May’s local elections.
- Greenwich Council has agreed funding of £1.5m with Transport for London for the delivery of transport improvements in the borough, including improvements to cycleways, the development of a Liveable Neighbourhood scheme and accessibility improvements.
- From today, HS2 is hosting a series of consultation events on designs for the new station at Euston.
Qatar’s dissatisfaction with the Mayor of London could see the capital lose out on billions in investment. Media reports (also here) suggest that the Qatari Government is undertaking a ‘review’ of its current and future investments in London after TfL banned the country’s adverts across its network – a move understood to be linked to the Mayor’s concerns about Qatar’s treatment of LGBT+ people and migrant workers. A source involved in the investment review says the ban ‘has been interpreted as a message from the Mayor’s office that Qatari business is not welcome in London’. Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund is the tenth largest landowner in the UK. In London, it co-owns Canary Wharf Group and holds stakes in Heathrow Airport, the Shard and Harrods. Whilst pulling its current investments could have far-reaching consequences, it remains unclear what this would actually look like – would the fund actually sell off its London holdings, refuse to invest in them further, or decline opportunities for investment in new sites? Some also worry that London could miss out on Qatar’s commitment to investing £10bn in key sectors across the UK over the next five years. Separately, the Prime Minister’s speech at this year’s Lord Mayor's Banquet – in which he signalled an end to the ‘golden era’ of UK-China relations – seems far more likely to impact investment.
- London-based developer Milligan has announced its founder John Milligan has stepped down as CEO and will take on the role of Executive Chairman. Stuart Harris has been appointed as the CEO and was previously the company’s COO.
- Kier has appointed Gus Wright as its new Regional Director for its London division. He was previously at Laing O’Rourke.
- Barking & Dagenham’s Cllr Olawale Martins has sadly passed away. He was first elected in 2018 and represented the Heath Ward.
- Former Deputy Mayor of London and long standing politician and campaigner, Nicky Gavron was announced as New Londoner of the Year at the NLA Awards this week. Our congratulations to her with thanks for her amazing contribution to London since the 1980s.
Planning reform is, once again, in limbo. The Levelling-Up & Regeneration Bill (LURB) has been stopped in its tracks by not one but two groups of rebel Tory MPs. For more on the events leading up to the postponement – until further notice – of the Bill’s second Report Stage debate and vote, see the detailed blog we published on Friday. So where are we now? The Government has been seeking to reach a compromise with the clearly bullish rebels, before bringing the Bill back for a vote. But why, one would be forgiven for wondering, is the Government so spooked by a handful of mildly mutinous MPs? Simply put, this is not about policy or ideology. It’s about the next election, whenever that may be. The party’s insecurity is laid bare in interventions by the likes of Sajid Javid and Jacob Rees Mogg, not to mention statements by no less than 11 relatively young Tory MPs – notably including junior Levelling Up Minister Dehenna Davison – who now say they will stand down at the next election, amid reports of a ‘Tory retreat from the north.’ Once again, planning reform is being held hostage by internecine party politics. So, we wait…
Meanwhile, in other news from the Department of Levelling-Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), we might have to wait a tad longer for the benefits of Brexit and levelling up. It appears that the government will delay the first payments promised from the £2.6bn UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which is intended to replace EU structural funding. Separate reports indicate that none of DLUHC’s promised 12 ‘levelling-up Tsars’ have yet been appointed. Must be down to Putin’s war in Ukraine.
Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) continue to divide Londoners’ opinions. A large number of these transport and public realm interventions, aimed at reducing car usage and boosting walking and cycling, were implemented hastily by local authorities across England during the pandemic – pressed by tight central government deadlines. Some were poorly conceived (and received) leading to conflict with residents, which in some places continues. Only last week, Haringey Council was forced to call off a meeting after anti-LTN campaigners, who argue that the measures actually increase congestion, add to journey times and worsen air pollution, protested outside the venue. Council Leader Peray Ahmet claimed that the meeting was cancelled due to safety concerns. Recently published research has suggested, however, that LTNs can have the desired effect. The study, carried out by Imperial College London, is not, however, a vindication of all LTNs everywhere as implied by the press – it only looked at three schemes in Islington, finding that the measures reduced both traffic and air pollution in their areas ‘without displacing the problem to nearby streets’. London’s former cycling commissioner and Boris Johnson’s former transport adviser Andrew Gilligan has written in The Guardian to counter what he calls ‘false claims and bad journalism’ – making a compelling argument, though of course he was one of the architects of Government’s current policy towards them…
DATA FOR LONDON
You can’t have evidence-based policy without the evidence and we’re pleased to see City Hall and London Councils redoubling efforts to develop London’s capabilities in this area. Earlier this month, the Mayor appointed the Data for London Advisory Board. This motley crew of boffins and wonks, drawn from across the public, private and third sectors, will advise the Mayor and his Chief Digital Officer for London Theo Blackwell on the best ways to use data – and crucially, in developing London’s first Data Strategy and a new Data for London platform. Only yesterday, members of this new Advisory Board also joined representatives from DLUHC and local authorities for a session on how digital transformation is shaping London’s built environment hosted by Future of London. If you missed it, keep an eye out for Future of London’s forthcoming writeup. Separately, the London Office of Technology and Innovation (LOTI) has also had a busy few weeks, announcing an new strategic partnership with techUK, as well as launching a £200,000 catchily named New Service Models in Adult Social Care Innovation Fund. Oh and for the most incurable number crunchers amongst our readers, the latest tranche of Census 2021 data was released this week, covering UK armed forces veterans, ethnic group, national identity, language, and religion. Enjoy.
SOCIAL HOUSING UPDATE
Social housing landlords continue to face significant scrutiny, amidst a difficult economic environment. Over the weekend, fresh allegations about the conditions of social housing in Islington made yet more headlines. This came less than a week since Michael Gove made good on a threat to penalise housing associations that fail to promptly treat damp and mould – withholding £1m in funding from Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH). Separately, Gove and Minister for Social Housing Baroness Scott of Bybrook attended the launch event for a new 250-person Social Housing Quality Residents Panel (more information here). Meanwhile, Riverside has decided to fast-track its integration of One Housing – the original plan having been to complete the merger by December 2023 – due to ‘economic uncertainty’. There is good news for Notting Hill Genesis, which achieved an annual surplus of £102.3m (£20m higher than 2021-22), despite budgeting for a surplus of £82.7m. NHG has attributed this mainly to more households buying more shares in shared ownership home (known as staircasing). Lastly, RHP has appointed Sarah Thomas – currently COO at Peabody – as its Chief Executive. She will start in April next year.
LCA PLANNING WINS
Tuesday night saw not one but two major LCA clients’ applications being considered at planning committees. First up, in Westminster, the National Gallery secured Planning Sub-Committee 1’s unanimous approval for a series of upgrades to their Sainsbury Wing and Wilkins Building. Coinciding with the Gallery’s exciting Bicentenary in 2024, the project both celebrates the past and looks to the future, making sensitive interventions to the entrance, as well as providing new facilities and amenities including an improved Pigott Education Centre and a dedicated members’ space. It's a brilliant project, which LCA has been delighted to provide PR and consultation support to over the past 18 months. Separately, Islington Council’s Planning Committee approved Mount Anvil and Newlon’s ambitious proposals for the Barnsbury Estate, which will deliver 914 homes, two new parks, and a new community centre. There will be 426 social rent homes in total, including 135 new homes for social rent, and all existing tenants will be rehoused in one of 291 replacement homes. The LCA team has been engaging with residents on the plans since 2019, including leading the yes campaign during the residents’ ballot in March 2021. The planning committee were particularly complimentary about the project’s ‘exemplary’ engagement, as evidenced by the number of supportive residents in attendance or who wrote in favour.
NEW LONDON AWARDS
It was a stellar turnout for the New London Awards this week, taking place as always at the Guildhall in the City of London. More than 600 people attended the annual lunch, which saw awards presented across 14 categories. Congratulations to all the winners, in particular former Deputy Mayor and London Assembly Member Nicky Gavron who was named 2023 Londoner of the Year and spoke to a rapt audience about the power of collaboration. A special LDN shout out to LCA clients and partners on award-winning projects that we have worked on, including Mixed-Use winner 330 Gray’s Inn Road by AHMM; Transport & Infrastructure winner Esperance Bridge by Moxon for Argent at King’s Cross; and both winners of the Masterplan and Area Strategies – Albert Island by Haworth Tompkins and Hawley Wharf by AHMM. Finally, we look forward to visiting the new home of the NLA, the London Centre, when it opens its doors at the Guildhall next year.
CITY SUPER TUESDAY
Yesterday we launched Super Tuesday, a festive campaign for our client, the Eastern City Business Improvement District. The consumer campaign aims to drive footfall and encourage people to spend more time (and money) in the area’s restaurants, pubs, and bars. Running until 20 December, Super Tuesday will see a range of daytime and evening activations across the BID’s area. A Spin the Wheel game will give punters a chance to win lucky dip prizes, including a gift voucher from Cheese at Leadenhall Market, a bottle of champagne from Amathus, and a gift voucher for the Ten Trinity Spa at the Four Seasons Hotel. Super Tuesday will also light up the whole Eastern City area with festive installations, including NEON ANGEL WINGS by Australian light artist Carla O’Brien at 20 Fenchurch Street’s Pocket Park. Then there’s Christmas choirs every Tuesday, angel stilt walkers, a Christmas tree at St Helen’s Church in Bishopsgate, snow-blowing machines, and the ultimate Eastern City competition prize worth £3,000! LCA created the brand, assets, PR and social and digital strategy for the campaign which you can see here!
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