“Returning in an interim capacity to my old job of LDN editor, until Nick Bowes joins us this summer, reminds me of the political circle of life (there’s a musical in that phrase somewhere). In this week’s edition we report on the emerging Conservative candidates for Mayor of London in 2024. Nick Rogers AM, Andrew Boff AM and Samuel Kasumu have so far declared. Paul Scully MP is rumoured to be close to declaring too. 16 years ago Boris Johnson was just starting to be floated as someone who might stand a realistic chance of beating Ken Livingstone. We all know what happened then. With respect to all four men (note - neither Labour nor the Tories have selected a woman candidate for Mayor of London in any of the six elections to date) one does wonder if they have the breadth of appeal that Johnson managed to conjure (and I use that word deliberately) in 2008. Of course, back then he was hampered by second preference votes and still won. This time it’s simply first past the post and that might help the Tory candidate. As might the impact of the London wide ULEZ expansion, which comes into force in August, nine months before the election. We will of course be all over this in the months ahead. Meanwhile, next week there are local elections across the country and whilst there are none in London, we will be reading the runes to see what the results might mean for 2024, including of course the general election. Read on for more on the wonderful new London Centre, planning, construction skills, residential progress (or lack of it) and more.”
Robert Gordon Clark, Partner and Senior Advisor
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THE LONDON CENTRE
Last week saw London mark an important milestone in the way the capital presents itself as the NLA opened the new London Centre at 3 Aldermanbury in the City of London. For the first time since the NLA opened its doors at the Building Centre in Camden in 2005, all three Pipers London models - the Central London model, the City of London model and the Royal Docks model - are now on permanent display together. Alongside the models is an impressive exhibition space showcasing how London has changed over the last 20 years and what the opportunities are in the future, and two flexible rooms for meetings and workshops. Whilst The London Centre will now be the main shop window for international investors through initiatives such as the Opportunity London programme, this centre is accessible to all. Open Tuesday - Saturday to visit for free, it is also available to hire for events, meetings and receptions (contact email@example.com), and the centre will be open on Mondays specifically to provide private access to schools.
HOUSING HOLD UP
Sun in springtime may provide us with some well-deserved warmth away from the chilling news of the capital’s troubling housing market. Figures from Wayhome have shown that private housebuilding fell substantially in the second half of 2022, with less than half the number of starts compared to the previous six months. Wayhome has attributed the collapse in new starts to the end of the Help to Buy scheme, which closed for new applications in October 2022. This has run alongside difficult market conditions, including widely reported labour shortages, high material costs, and a broader squeeze on housing affordability. Suggestions of a drop in new builds is supported by the built environment analysts Glenigan, who have reported a major fall in construction projects across most sectors in the first quarter of 2023, with UK-wide private housing development dropping by 39% on the previous year. Amidst the lull in new building projects, figures from Rightmove’s monthly House Price Index also suggest that first-time buyers are keeping the housing market buoyant. The average price for a first-time buyer property reached a record £224,963 this month, with demand 11% higher than in 2019. Overall house prices this April rose by an average of 0.2%; a markedly slower pace than is typical for this time of year, according to Rightmove.
As opposition to the expansion of the ULEZ continues to mount, the Mayor is digging his heels in. With five councils (Hillingdon, Bexley, Bromley, Harrow and Surrey) having already launched a legal challenge, which is set to be heard by the High Court this summer, Lib Dem run Sutton Council has called on residents to sign a petition against the expansion, with reportedly ‘rowdy scenes’ at a Council meeting attended by both supporters and opponents of the ULEZ. Local Conservative MPs Paul Scully and Elliot Colburn have also made clear their opposition to the expansion in a joint letter, writing that the ULEZ could have a detrimental effect on businesses in their constituencies. It was very timely then that the GLA published a press release on Monday highlighting the progress that has been made in improving London’s air quality thanks to policies implemented by Sadiq Khan since his first election in 2016.
Speaking of Paul Scully… The Minister for London is one of several men to have indicated their interest in seeking the Conservative candidacy at the next Mayoral election, which is now just over a year away and which will be the first to use First Past the Post (FPTP). This week, London Assembly Member Nick Rogers has put his name forward as a possible candidate to face Khan, leading with a pledge to axe the expansion of the ULEZ, saying that its impact on the outer boroughs will be ‘chilling’. Rogers is not the only person to have thrown his hat in the ring, with fellow Assembly Member Andrew Boff also in the running, as is Samuel Kasumu, a former adviser to Boris Johnson who has received high-profile endorsements. Scully is yet to formally declare and according to reports, the Conservatives will have selected a candidate by the end of July.
LONDON PLANNING ROUNDUP
DLUHC has postponed its decision on the called-in plans to redevelop the flagship M&S store on Oxford Street until July, on the same day that its CEO has a piece published in the Standard announcing a new investment of £12.5m in its London shops and confirming its ongoing commitment to the capital. Plans to demolish the building and replace it with a 10-storey mixed-use office and retail block sparked major criticism from heritage and environmental groups over its perceived impact on building conservation and carbon impact from demolition. The plans were approved by Westminster City Council in November 2021, but were called-in by the Secretary of State in June last year.
Meanwhile, Ealing Council has decided it will not be proceeding with the demolition and redevelopment of its headquarters at Perceval House. Previous plans by Vistry Group to redevelop the site faced criticism from local residents and local MP Rupa Huq. The Council has said it will be retaining the building and retrofitting it for community and civic use.
Richmond Council has approved its new Local Plan which will now be put out to public consultation for six weeks. Approved developments in the Plan include a refurbishment of Richmond Station, the old Teddington Police Station, and several housing schemes on commercial sites. Further emphasis was added to the Plan in committee to ensure it reflects the borough’s vision to reach net zero by 2043, as well as protection of habitats and green spaces.
Tower Hamlets’ decision to reject a neighbourhood plan for Spitalfields will be challenged in the High Court. The plan was refused at a council meeting in October 2022 despite local residents voting in favour in a referendum in November 2021. Businesses however rejected the plan, leaving the Council to make the final decision on its adoption.
A council housing project in Tottenham Hale has received extra funding from the GLA, permitting the project to double in size. Haringey Council’s plans to build an updated 272 council homes on the Ashley Road Depot site has already started construction, with project completion expected in 2026. The homes overlooking Down Lane Park will include more than a third allocated for families and will be let through the Council’s housing register.
Proposals for 559 new homes in seven tower blocks of between six and eight storeys have been narrowly approved by Bexley Council. Concerns from councillors over the height of the properties, which will include 43% affordable housing, ran alongside criticisms of the design and overdevelopment.
- Marcus Geddes, Managing Director of Workspace at Landsec, has been appointed as Chair of the Westminster Property Association.
- Chief Executive of Hackney Council Mark Carroll has announced that he is resigning to attend to family issues. Ian Williams will take on the role of acting Chief Executive.
- MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington Diane Abbott has been suspended from the Labour Party and is now sitting as an Independent.
- The All-Party Parliamentary Group for London held its AGM this week, with Bromley and Chislehurst MP Robert Neill (Conservative) and Vauxhall MP Florence Eshalomi (Labour) re-elected as Co-Chairs. Three new Vice Chairs have joined the APPG: Dawn Butler (Labour, Brent Central), Marsha de Cordova (Labour, Battersea) and Munira Wilson (Liberal Democrat, Twickenham). Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West has also retained her position as Secretary.
- Stella Kanu has been appointed as the Chief Executive of Shakespeare’s Globe. She will take on the role in the Autumn.
- Jenny Mollica has been announced as interim Chief Executive of the English National Opera.
London’s major rail stations continue to undergo change, albeit to varying degrees. With work on plans for the redevelopment of Euston Station having been put on pause after the Government announced that it was prioritising the Birmingham to Old Oak Common stage of HS2, two of the capital’s key rail stations are likely to look a little bit different in the future. At Waterloo, work has begun to restore the roof, which was last rebuilt 100 years ago. The existing glass panels are being replaced by polycarbonate glazing material, which will reduce stress on the station’s structure and make it ‘lighter and brighter’. The station will soon also welcome new food and retail outlets, as well as new seating and refurbished toilets. Meanwhile, the updated plans for the major redevelopment of Liverpool Street Station have been released, with the planning application set to be submitted to the City ‘shortly’. The first iteration of the proposals were unveiled in October last year and were met with a backlash from heritage campaigners due to their impact on listed buildings. The plans, which campaigners have now requested be called-in by the Secretary of State, include the demolition and reprovision of the existing concourse, as well as the delivery of a new over station development of buildings of 21 and 15 storeys, providing office and hotel space, as well as a green roof.
SKILLS, SKILLS, SKILLS
No construction project would be complete without the talent needed to build it. The latest Skills Plan from the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) is looking to the future with measures intended to support the path to net zero, address workforce shortages and improve competence in construction. CLC projects for the coming year include the launch of a new competence approach to ensure an accepted and accredited definition for the whole sector. Universal competence is looking very much like an industry priority, with the Independent Review of the Construction Product Testing Regime also recommending stronger approaches to regulation. Future skills are at the heart of the CLC Plan with net zero embedded into the Plan’s measures for attracting new entrants to the industry, as well as proposals for a pilot scheme to give schoolchildren a chance to learn about working in the construction industry. Tackling workforce shortages in the sector is also a major theme throughout the Plan, which cites the Construction Industry Training Board’s (CITB) own data suggesting an extra 225,000 workers will be required for UK-wide construction by 2027, despite the latest figures on apprenticeships suggesting a welcome boost in numbers between August 2021 and July 2022. Whilst the Skills Plan opens up possibilities for younger, interested workers, the CITB has also previously recommended an ‘age-friendly’ system, with retraining for older workers as part of the mission to tackle the sector’s skills gap.
ART MADE PUBLIC
Towering above the swirling waters of the River Thames on Greenwich Peninsula stands a new 60ft sculpture by Damien Hirst in his latest work for the area. ‘Demon with Bowl’ can be viewed along The Tide, London’s first linear park which features provocative and bold public art by Antony Gormley, Alex Chinneck and other previous works by Hirst. The bronze figure, acquired for their site by LCA clients Knight Dragon, is resemblant of ancient sculptures in Hirst’s Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable series, with ‘Demon with Bowl’ first exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 2017. This new addition marks Hirst’s sixth work added to the Peninsula; a district which Hirst called his home in the late 1980s. In an interview discussing the Peninsula’s latest addition, Hirst said that “London needs more spaces for creativity.” In this spirit, a mural in Clapham displaying a burst of colour, history and artistic flair has received funding from the Mayor of London’s Untold Stories scheme. The artwork displayed on Clapham’s Deep Shelter, Clapham Road, is a bright celebration of London’s women muralists, past and present. Organised by Clapham Film Unit, the Mayor’s funding will support two free street art workshops for the community which are planned for next month, as well a documentary produced about the mural.
CHAPMAN BARRIGAN LECTURE
Last Wednesday evening, and after three years of pandemic induced delay, LCA was delighted to co-present the first in what will be a series of lectures in memory of both Honor Chapman of JLL and Trish Barrigan of Benson Elliot. Some LDN readers may recall a series of lectures from 2014-2019 under the Honor Chapman Memorial Lectures banner, given by the likes of Dame Alison Nimmo, Baroness Margaret Ford and Dame Vivian Hunt. The committee for the lecture series of Robert Gordon Clark, Andrew Gould, Katie Kopec, Dame Judith Mayhew-Jonas, Marc Mogull and Gemma Piggott decided to rebrand the series in memory of both Honor and Trish, with support from both the JLL Foundation and Pinebridge Benson Elliot. This first lecture was given by Liz Peace CBE on the theme of trust in the development industry. Around 150 guests attended the lecture at Goldman Sachs, who kindly hosted the lecture and reception. It was a bravura performance by Liz, followed by a panel debate chaired by Robert featuring Sam McClary of EG, Dame Judith, Liz and Esha Bhasin from JLL. Sam followed this up with a leader column in EG. If interested in attending future lectures please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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