As is often the case with LDN, this week we simply covered such a wide variety of topics that it’s hard to choose just one to focus on.
We of course lead with a look at the Government’s most recent Levelling Up Fund allocations as well as the latest Transport for London news, including mounting opposition to the planned expansion of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) which looks set to become a real thorn in the Mayor’s side.
Our usual planning roundup touches on the great news that permission for the first phase of the exciting Camden Highline has been granted, while we also highlight some major personnel changes at both Brent and Ealing.
Just to ensure that there really is something for everyone in this edition, we also cover Spirit of 2012’s recommendation that a City of Sport competition be launched, modelled loosely on the existing City of Culture programme.
And in what may be an LDN first, our final story is fashion-focused, highlighting some of the fascinating exhibitions planned this year in our treasured museums and galleries.
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Accusations that the Levelling Up Fund (LUF) gave London preferential treatment dominated press coverage last week – but what do the numbers say? The second round of the LUF has awarded £2.1bn to 111 projects across the UK, including £150m for eight projects in London. Labour were quick to point out that London will technically receive more funds than both Yorkshire and the northeast, while some Red Wall Tories criticised the Government for favouring the south, with one Tory MP in the northwest saying it made a “mockery of levelling up”. While London’s portion of the funding (7.3%) is a significant improvement on its allocation from the first round (3.8%), a breakdown of funding shows London received just £17.20 per capita – actually the lowest in the country by region. OnLondon has outlined that London’s case for a larger cut of the LUF may be more profound, as 27% of London households are in poverty, compared to 21% in rest of the UK as whole. Centre for London disregarded the share of funding, instead raising concerns that competitive funding pots are “inefficient and waste local resources” – a view shared by the Conservatives’ very own West Midlands Mayor Andy Street. Today’s FT report suggests the Government is taking the criticism on board and is working on plans for “fiscal devolution”, while Mayor Andy Burnham has called for a Barnett Formula approach to funding the region.
Londoners will soon be paying more for their transport after the Mayor announced that Transport for London (TfL) fares will increase by 5.9% from March. The GLA press release highlights that the Mayor’s ‘hands have been tied’ by the most recent funding deal agreed with Government and that national rail fares are also set to increase by the same amount. It has also been confirmed that the temporary travel time restrictions on some concessionary fares are set to become permanent, raising an estimated £40m per year for TfL. Meanwhile, opposition to the expansion of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is continuing to ferment and Richmond being the latest borough to join the fray. In last week’s edition we questioned how these boroughs intend to ‘block’ the expansion and it has now emerged that some are investigating ‘the legal basis’ of the plans, while others will reportedly refuse to sign section 8 agreements needed to install ULEZ cameras. In another spot of bother for the Mayor, the Elizabeth Line is likely to experience delays throughout February due to industrial action, while there will also be strikes on the Bakerloo Line on 4 and 11 February in a dispute over safety.
LONDON PLANNING ROUNDUP
The City of London Corporation has approved Stanhope and the Woolgate Exchange Unit Trust (WEUT)’s plans to give the Woolgate Exchange office building a “green makeover”. The redevelopment is targeting net zero carbon in construction and operation, with 98% of the existing structure preserved. The redevelopment will include over 20,000 sq. ft of roof terraces and a 1,500 sq. ft rooftop pavilion.
The Silvertown Partnership, a joint venture between Lendlease and Starwood Capital, has submitted plans to Newham Council for a £3.5bn mixed-use development at the Silvertown site on the Royal Docks. The scheme will deliver 6,500 homes (50% affordable).
We are delighted to see that last week Southwark Council’s planning committee voted unanimously to approve Notting Hill Genesis’ plans for the second stage of the Aylesbury estate regeneration scheme which will deliver 614 homes (50% affordable). LCA provided strategic advice to NHG throughout the consultation period and through to the submission of a planning application.
Camden Council has approved the first section of the much anticipated Camden Highline project. The Highline will create a walkway along disused railway tracks from Camden Gardens to York Way, near St Pancras Station, with the first phase running from Camden Gardens to Royal College Street.
The London Legacy Development Corporation has approved MSG’s plans for an LED advertising screen to wrap around the planned MSG Sphere arena in Stratford.
Hillingdon Council’s Major Applications Planning Committee has approved plans for the redevelopment of Hillingdon Hospital.
Meanwhile, Southwark has approved Native Land’s application to develop an 18-storey office building at Bankside Yards which will deliver 80,600 sq. ft of space.
Barnet Council has voted unanimously to refuse Comer Homes’ plans for 2,400 homes (21% affordable) at the North London Business Park site. The developer already has permission to build 1,350 homes on the site but wanted to expand the scheme.
Southwark Council has also announced it is launching the Southwark Land Commission which will look at establishing ‘a fresh and innovative approach to improving the way land is used in the borough’.
Brent Council has appointed Kim Wright as its new Chief Executive, replacing Carolyn Downs who is set to step down in April. Wright joins from Lewisham Council where she has been CEO since October 2019.
Ealing Council has made three new appointments to its strategic leadership team. Amanda Askham has been appointed as Strategic Director for Strategy and Change, Peter George, currently the lead for Enfield’s flagship Meridian Water regeneration scheme, has been appointed to the role of Strategic Director for Economy and Sustainability while Robert South will take on the role of Strategic Director for Children’s Services.
HUB’s Victoria Manston has been promoted to Development Director.
EcoWorld London has hired Lisa Gledhill as Managing Director of its development team and Katie Savin-Taylor as Development Director. Taryn Swales is joining to lead the sustainability team.
The UK’s status as an investment destination is under scrutiny as reports suggest varying levels of confidence in the country’s capacity for growth. Leading the way with a deeply bearish outlook, the CBI’s Director General Tony Danker warned during the World Economic Forum in Davos that the Government’s lack of growth strategy compared to the US and EU means “money is leaving the UK”. Danker doubled down, using a speech on Monday to accuse the Government of burdening the UK economy with ‘legislative chaos’ as the plan to scrap hundreds of laws of EU origin by the end the of the year is creating “huge uncertainty for UK firms”. Similarly, Sir James Dyson has said the “short-sighted” and “stupid” economic policies of the Sunak Government are keeping the UK in a state of “Covid inertia”. However, there are some positive signs. PwC’s annual CEO poll ranks the UK joint third with Germany as the most important country for investment globally, and the capital remains the top destination for foreign investment in financial and professional services according to LPA’s Global Cities Survey, though there are some concerns that Paris is ‘pulling ahead’ on key indicators of global competitiveness. For now, ONS figures showing inward investment to Britain had climbed by £83.1bn year-on-year to £2tn in 2021, is something to celebrate as is the Opportunity London campaign, of which LCA is a founding partner, which invites sustainable investment into London’s boroughs and communities.
OFFICE SECTOR LATEST
- According to BNP Paribas Real Estate, just £3.4bn was spent on central London offices in the six months to December, the lowest level since 2008. However, JLL reports that demand for office space in central London is ‘solid’ with 3.1m sq. ft of space under offer at the end of December 2022.
- Research by MSCI has found that London office prices need to fall by 29.3% on average to bring transaction volumes back to ‘normal’ activity levels. MSCI’s research also concludes that current low transaction levels are down to a difference in price expectations between buyers and sellers.
- Analysis of ‘hundreds of transactions’ in the UK office market over the past five years by JLL has found those with ‘better sustainability credentials’ were valued at a 20.6% premium on average; this gap rises to 26% in the capital where less environmentally-friendly buildings come with a “brown discount.”
- TikTok has signed a pre-let agreement with Topland Group and Beltane Asset Management for their entire 140,000 sq. ft office building at the Verdant development in Farringdon.
- The price of office space would appear to be a moot point for Twitter, which has reportedly failed to pay rent on its Piccadilly office. The Crown Estate is just one of several landlords taking the company to court over unpaid rent.
FIRE SAFETY UPDATE
Developers have been voicing frustration about the Government’s plans to implement a Building Safety Levy. The consultation on the plans was launched at the end of November and sets out proposals for developers of residential buildings to pay a levy as part of the building control process, with the implication that construction will stall if it is not paid. It is estimated that the Levy would raise £3bn over 10 years and will be put towards paying for fixing historic building safety defects. As reported by The Times, developers are objecting to the plans, saying that they would be paying for fire safety issues for which they were not originally responsible and that the funding should come from others in the industry, such as cladding manufacturers. The consultation closes on 7 February. While a lot of building safety legislation is still yet to be officially implemented, the London Fire Brigade has recently ordered Lambeth Council to fix multiple fire safety issues in one of the borough’s high-rise tower blocks after it found ‘multiple failings’.
CITY OF SPORT?
The Spirit of 2012 charity is calling for a new City of Sport competition to be launched in the UK, modelled loosely on the existing City of Culture programme. The recommendation has been made as part of the charity’s findings from its two-year inquiry into the legacy of the London 2012 Olympic Games, with the aim of boosting participation in sport, increasing volunteering opportunities and bridging social divides. This would be part of the ‘intentional long-term planning’ that is needed, the charity argues, to ensure that there is a ‘sustained approach to community involvement in getting and staying active’ with communities reaping the benefits of hosting major sporting events.
It’s not very often that we include a story about fashion in LDN, but we think that this one is worth it. The Museum of London Docklands has issued a call for items of clothing including a dress worn by David Bowie and hats donned by Greta Garbo as part of an upcoming exhibition called Fashion City: How Jewish Londoners shaped global style, set to open in October. The current location of these items and many others, all of which were designed by Jewish designers in London, is unknown. The exhibition is set to be ‘the first time the major contribution of Jewish designers in making London an iconic fashion city is uncovered’. This isn’t the only London museum set to host an exhibition about fashion this year, with the V&A hosting the first UK exhibition dedicated to Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel which opens in September and the Design Museum becoming home to The Offbeat Sari exhibition from May to September.
WOMEN IN PROPERTY
This week LCA Women’s Network and charity client Mentoring Circle partnered up for a special event at Grosvenor on ‘How to Speak for your Sector.’ Chaired by LCA Partner and Managing Director of Insight, Jenna Goldberg, our expert panel featured Priya Aggarwal Shah, Founder of BAME in Property, Chloe McCulloch, Editor at Assemble Media Group and Benjamin O’Connor, Director at NLA, who shared invaluable lessons around how to raise your profile. It was a great night and one that left everyone feeling inspired for the year to come!
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