"We don’t often start LDN with news about people, but this last week or so has seen some mixed news. Most notably London and the wider development industry has lost a passionate advocate and activist in Pam Alexander. There have been many tributes, including from the Mayor of London and she will be much missed by us all.
Whilst still very much around, it’s also sad to see Theo Usherwood step down from his role as Political Editor at LBC. I had the pleasure of covering many elections with Theo (as his occasional political pundit) and was always impressed by his passion for politics, as well as his great connections. He’s taking some time out right now, but let’s hope we will see him back in action soon.
Closer to home this week we say goodbye to Jenna Goldberg. Devoted readers will know she is the inspiration behind many a good foreword in LDN and her sharp editing eye has always meant each edition comes out to the standard you expect. But she’s been far more than this – a great colleague over 15 years, a wise counsel to a wide range of clients and a superb spokesperson for our company. We wish her well in the next stage of her career.
But with every sad piece of news comes a positive one, and we are delighted to announce that Nick Bowes is joining us in the early summer to replace Jenna as our new MD for Insight. Nick needs little introduction to most LDN readers having worked for the Mayor of London for many years and most recently run Centre for London.
Read on for more news on this and a host of other issues.."
Robert Gordon Clark, LCA Partner & Senior Advisor
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IN THE ZONE
JLL has produced research on London’s biggest regeneration zones, laying bare the potential of these developments. Relevant reports in the Evening Standard and MyLondon are rightly enthusiastic about 265,000 new homes in the pipeline across London and ‘15 micro cities’ where many of these are being brought forward. We spoke to JLL, who kindly provided some additional detail and clarification on the figures. JLL reached the 265,000 figure by analysing Molior London data. It is a rounded-up figure, specifically referring to the total number of homes on large (1,000+ home) schemes in the capital that are currently ‘in the planning process or under construction.’ However, about 10% of that figure actually corresponds to the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation’s (OPDC) still-aspirational target for 25,000 homes. The OPDC is the largest of the 15 most prominent development sites listed, which correspond to about 69,200 homes in planning or construction. They vary widely in character, size, and stage of development but JLL also points out that half of the 265,000 headline figure are in just five out of London’s 32 boroughs (namely Newham, Tower Hamlets, Barnet, Barking & Dagenham and Hammersmith & Fulham). JLL additionally warns that planning complications and construction costs may hold back the delivery of these and other schemes.
We would of course like to think that more than half of the top 15 projects identified by JLL are in with a particularly good chance of delivery. We have been or are involved with seven, specifically Canada Water, Earl’s Court, Greenwich Peninsula, New Bermondsey, OPDC, Silvertown and TwelveTrees Park – testament to the breadth and depth of our experience as an agency, as well as our stellar client list.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TUBE
It’s another busy week for Transport for London. To mark 160 years since the first Tube journey, TfL has ‘reimagined‘ historic posters from the London Transport Museum’s archive. These promote four iconic London cultural institutions, the English National Opera, London Symphony Orchestra, Southbank Centre and the Royal Opera House. They will be displayed across 80 Tube stations between 10 and 28 April, and for aficionados, prints can be bought from the museum’s shop. This is but one part of a savvy, feel-good campaign, launched in January to celebrate TfL’s heritage and promote the city’s cultural destinations. Less positively for London’s wider visitor economy, the Mayor’s Night Czar, Amy Lamé, has implied that an expansion of Night Tube services is unlikely in the foreseeable future. But back to good news for TfL, its development arm TTLP Properties has appointed Barratt London as its joint venture partner to develop the Bollo Lane site in Ealing. Separately, TTLP and Barratt have launched Wembley Park Gardens, another joint venture scheme between the two, in Brent. Meanwhile, four Tory-led Outer London boroughs and Surrey County Council have complained that the Mayor has started to install infrastructure for an expanded ULEZ before a judicial review bid (on which we have reported previously) is assessed. An initial decision from the High Court on whether to allow the judicial review application will proceed to trial is reportedly expected ‘any day now.’
LONDON PLANNING ROUNDUP
- Barnet Council has formally brought several services, including planning, back in-house as its 10-year 'Capita Re' joint venture with Capita has expired. 300 members of the JV’s staff are now Barnet employees while the ‘in-sourcing’ drive is also expected to bring Barnet Estates back into council control by September 2023, though the Barnet Homes ALMO is reportedly expected to remain at arm’s length until at least 2026.
- Ealing Council’s planning committee has granted permission for Barratt London’s Cloister Corner scheme – a project supported by LCA, comprising 300 homes (35% affordable) across in six blocks up to 17 storeys high, as well as new public realm improvements.
- Tower Hamlets Council has given permission for Naval Row Freehold Limited / Criterion Capital’s plans centred on 169 new homes, 35% affordable, across buildings up to 30 storeys. The amended plans, located just east of Canary Wharf, include a second staircase to align with new Mayoral requirements for tall buildings.
- Also in Tower Hamlets, Olympian Homes has secured planning consent to build a 46-storey, 795-unit co-living scheme on the Isle of Dogs – with the council accepting a £47.9m contribution from the developer for off-site affordable housing.
- Historic England has given Channel 4’s headquarters in Westminster a Grade II listing and separately has recommended giving West London College in Hammersmith & Fulham a certificate of immunity from listing, possibly enabling its future redevelopment.
- Peabody’s Chief Operating Officer Sarah Thomas has been appointed as the new Chief Executive of housing association RHP.
- LCA understands that Cllr Shital Manro’s Ealing Council cabinet brief has been expanded to cover the genuinely affordable homes portfolio alongside his wider regeneration brief. He has picked up the brief previously held by Cllr Lauren Wall, who has stepped back from cabinet for personal reasons.
- Longstanding LBC Political Editor Theo Usherwood has stepped down for personal reasons.
- Dr Louise Brooke-Smith OBE has been appointed to Chair RICS’ diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) panel and Frank Hovorka has been selected to chair its sustainability panel.
- Pam Alexander OBE has sadly passed away. Alexander’s extraordinary career spanned the Civil Service and leadership roles for multiple organisations across the built environment including, at the time of her death, being Chair of The Heritage Alliance and Commonplace Digital and NED at London Legacy Development Corporation
SOCIAL HOUSING LATEST
In a busy few weeks for the social housing sector:
- The London Housing Directors’ Group (with support from London Councils) have launched Delivering for Tenants: The Foundations of an Effective Local Authority Landlord Service, which sets out ‘best practice principles on how boroughs can go beyond their statutory and regulatory responsibilities to deliver the highest possible housing standards.’
- Earlier this month Peabody and Catalyst completed their merger under the Peabody brand, bringing together a portfolio of around 104,000 homes and 220,000 residents across London and the Home Counties.
- However, Peabody has separately said that due to the impact of increasing inflation and interest rates, it will be ‘significantly’ scaling back its development activity.
- Guinness Partnership and Countryside have formed a joint venture to build 700 homes in in Kingston. Work is expected to start in 2025, once full planning permission has been secured.
- LCA client L&Q has picked 10 contractors to support a 15-year, £3bn upgrade programme, which will run for the next 15 years.
- Notting Hill Genesis, also an LCA client, is meanwhile planning £1.8bn of investment works to run over a seven-year period, to include retrofit and decarbonisation. Firms have until 2 May to bid for the framework.
- And yet another LCA client Network Homes has offered a cost of living pay increase of £2,400 to all its employees for the 2023-24 year.
- Octavia Housing is being investigated by the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) over its compliance with the governance standard, whilst Christian Action (Enfield) has again been downgraded by the RSH.
- The Housing Ombudsman has separately highlighted several maladministration findings relating to cladding and fire safety complaints.
- And finally, on a related point, the Sustainability Reporting Standard for Social Housing (SRS) is being updated – with suggested changes including ‘a bigger focus on stock quality,’ and mitigating risks linked to damp and mould, gas and fire, asbestos and legionella. See the full proposals being consulted on here.
NO PLACE FOR WOMEN?
Widely-publicised research has confirmed that local politics suffers from a dearth of women – but also that London is leading the charge towards achieving a more equitable gender balance on elected councils. Data collected by The Fawcett Society and Democracy Club indicates that across the UK, the proportion of elected female councillors in 2022 stood at 36%, only two percentage points up from their previous snapshot in 2018. The 2022 figures also indicate that men outnumber women in 95% of councils while only one in 20 have at least equal numbers of male and female representatives. Within the UK’s regions and nations, London can be proud to rank first, with 45% of the region’s councillors being female. Indeed, three of the UK’s top five councils with the highest proportion of women are in the capital, namely Haringey (at 65%), Lewisham (56%) and Southwark (also 56%). Northern Ireland sits at the other end of the regional scale, with only 26%. The performance of the parties in attracting (and electing) balanced council groups also varies widely, with Labour leading at 47% and the Ulster Unionist party languishing at 20%. The full report includes a number of recommendations for how authorities and political parties can strive for a better gender balance in local politics – as indeed they should.
ESG RESEARCH ROUNDUP
- Research from the Building Research Establishment (BRE) consultancy suggests that poor quality housing costs the NHS £1.4bn a year – putting a hard financial figure against the effects of ‘cold, damp, overcrowded homes,’ which ‘cause mental and physical problems and keep patients trapped in hospitals.’
- Bisnow has meanwhile published a three-part ‘investigative series’ that examines the commercial real estate sector’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. Part one and part two provide a stark assessment of the sector’s emissions and a damning verdict on its efforts so far; part three argues forcefully that regulation ‘is the only thing’ that can effect meaningful change.
- It’s not just commercial real estate that’s struggling to shift from greenwashing to meaningful greening. The headline finding of research by EY is that only ‘5% of FTSE 100 have published Net Zero plans that would be deemed ‘credible’ under Government’s Transition plan guidance.’
BRINGING IN NICK
LCA is delighted to confirm that Nick Bowes, the current Chief Executive of Centre for London and former Director of Policy to the Mayor of London will be our new Managing Director, Insight. Nick has spent the last two years running Centre for London and before that spent five years at City Hall following stints in Sadiq Khan’s parliamentary office, at the Labour Party, the CBI and the EEF. Nick will lead LCA’s dedicated Insight team – ensuring the agency is one step ahead when it comes to news and issues that affect our clients – and take on the head editorial role on LDN. He will also of course bring his expertise and deep understanding of policy and politics to clients.
Jonny Popper, Chief Executive of LCA said:
‘Nick is a really fantastic hire for us, we already know each other well and he will bring with him a wealth of knowledge, experience and senior political, business and media contacts.’
Nick Bowes said:
‘I’m thrilled to be joining LCA, an organisation I’ve known and worked with over many years. The opportunity to take up this new role, bringing with me my experience and knowledge of policy and politics and to be part of an outfit I have admired for many years is really exciting.’
Nick will start at LCA early in the Summer.
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