“As some major London milestones approach, things are really starting to ramp up across the board.
The final expansion of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is scheduled for the end of August, but it is facing a legal challenge brought about by a number of Conservative-controlled local authorities, while even some Labour MPs and borough leaders have voiced their concerns about the impact of the expansion on their constituents. A hearing is set to take place in early July, after which the Mayor will find out whether his flagship policy has been scuppered or not.
Speaking of Sadiq Khan, there is now less than a year to go until Londoners return to the polls to vote for their Mayor. Could it be that opposition to the ULEZ combined with the selection of an impressive Conservative candidate mean that things start to not look quite as comfortable for Khan, who is seeking a record third term as Mayor of London?
The Conservatives are ramping up their selection process, with some of the nine candidates starting to set out their visions for the capital. By the time we write our next edition of LDN, we will know which of the candidates have made it on to the shortlist, after which we can expect things to heat up even more.”
Emily Clinton, Account Manager, Insight
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TORY MAYOR CANDIDATE UPDATES
With the shortlist of candidates due to be announced on 11 June, the contest for who will be selected as the Conservatives’ candidate to challenge Labour’s Sadiq Khan at next May’s election is gathering pace, with a number of hopefuls making their pledges and backers known:
- Former Downing Street advisor Samuel Kasumu has announced his plans to boost housebuilding by making boroughs more accountable through annual data submissions on planning performance and improving partnerships with private sector investors. Kasumu has also said that he opposes the implementation of rent controls.
Former Conservative Party adviser Alex Challoner has written in ConservativeHome outlining his proposals for solving London’s housing crisis. He proposes a shake-up of the definition of ‘affordable housing’ by removing the requirement for social rent homes in residential planning applications. He also outlines proposals for five new ‘Market Communities’ to be built by Mayoral Development Corporations around London providing 10,000 homes each, with their transport connections funded by TfL.
Tech entrepreneur Daniel Korski has received the backing of Secretary of State Michael Gove, who was filmed at a fundraising event saying of Gorski, “you couldn’t wish for a better person to galvanise and to light up this race.”
Repeating his bid for candidacy for a sixth time, Andrew Boff AM claimed last month that he has secured the ‘biggest backing’ of grassroots activists, with support from 50 councillors across 15 boroughs.
The chosen candidate will be announced on 19 July, following selection by London Conservative Party members.
MORE ULEZ SCRAPS
As the proposed date for the expansion of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) approaches, neither its opponents or supporters seem to be backing down. Last week, the High Court granted further grounds on which the expansion can be legally challenged. The judicial review, which was launched by Conservative-controlled boroughs Bexley, Bromley, Hillingdon and Harrow, as well as Surrey County Council, will now consider a total of four grounds of appeal. The two new grounds pertain to the ‘unfair and unlawful consultation in relation to expected compliance rates in outer London’ and ‘irrationality due to uncertainty and inadequate consultation’ of the scrappage scheme. A number of London Labour MPs and borough leaders have also recently voiced their concerns about the impact of the expansion on their constituents. In response, the Mayor of London announced the extension of the ULEZ scrappage scheme which will be open to all Londoners receiving child benefit, as well as all small businesses, from the end of July. Charities and care workers will also get targeted support. Writing in The Telegraph this week, the Mayor has said that while he understands that the ULEZ is contentious, ‘the cost of inaction would be far too high’, highlighting the health issues linked to air pollution. The ULEZ is scheduled to be expanded to cover the entirety of Greater London from 29 August, meaning that drivers in non-compliant vehicles will have to pay a fee of £12.50 a day to travel within the zone.
LONDON PLANNING ROUNDUP
- The City of London Corporation has begun a public consultation on its City Plan 2040 and Transport Strategy. Workshops are scheduled throughout June, aimed at consulting on issues including tall buildings, heritage and sustainability.
- The Enfield Dispatch has reported that the Government will not call-in Transport for London and Grainger’s plans for the delivery of 351 homes at Cockfosters Station. The plans were approved by the Council last year but then-Transport Secretary Grant Shapps blocked the development from going ahead. TfL is now understood to be reviewing its options.
- Plans for a ‘deep retrofit’ of a post-war office building to provide a new Centre for Employability and Enterprise for the University of Westminster have been granted planning permission by Westminster City Council.
- A three-storey extension to Minerva House, a six-storey office block facing the River Thames, has been approved by Southwark Council. The plans by GPE subsidiary Pontsarn Investments also include re-cladding and adding four new roof terraces to the 1980s-era building.
- Kingston Council has approved plans by RER Kingston Limited for the redevelopment of Surrey County Council’s former headquarters to deliver 292 new homes and workspace in buildings of up to six storeys high.
- Avison Young’s plans to develop a 16-storey mixed-use office and light industrial scheme at Havelock Terrace in Nine Elms has been approved by Wandsworth Council. The 32,000m2 site includes space for micro and small commercial units for SMEs, as well as communal space on each floor.
- Landsec has submitted plans to the City of London Corporation for the redevelopment of its 10-storey office block at 55 Old Broad Street. The firm proposes rebuilding the block up to 23 storeys for mixed-use and affordable office and retail space.
Transport for London has confirmed that Andy Lord has been appointed as the capital’s permanent Transport Commissioner. Lord took on the role of Interim Commissioner following the departure of Andy Byford last year.
Sharon Lea has been appointed as Hammersmith & Fulham’s permanent Chief Executive. Lea was initially appointed as Interim CEO of the Council following the departure of Kim Smith.
Leader of Camden Council Cllr Georgia Gould has been re-elected as Chair of London Councils, with Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville serving as her Deputy. Leader of Kensington & Chelsea Cllr Elizabeth Council has been elected as Group Leader of the Conservative Group, while Cllr Gareth Roberts will be taking on the role of Group Leader of the Lib Dem Group.
Labour held on to its seat in Camden’s South Hampstead ward, with Tommy Gale being elected in last week’s by-election.
TROUBLE FOR TALL BUILDINGS?
For visitors to the capital, the soaring steel and glass skyline adds a grand sense of scale to the city. The rise and fall of these towers represents more than just its image, but London’s economy too. For our current economic outlook, it’s a mixed picture. That’s the view of the latest Tall Buildings Survey from New London Architecture (NLA) which finds that residential developments are stalling under the weight of regulatory uncertainty, but a modest boom for high rise office schemes. The survey found that of the developments in planning in 2022, 66% were mixed-use and most based in East London. The survey adds that amid economic uncertainty from high inflation and interest rates, which subsequently affect mortgage rates and rent values, demand for refurbishment and retrofit is booming. Indeed, the tagline to Deloitte’s Summer 2023 Office Crane Survey remarks the “spectre of obsolescence stimulates refurbishment”. Delays in planning and construction of high-rise offices have led to Deloitte’s prediction that 2023 will be the ‘Year of the Catch-up’.
MORE POWERS FOR LONDON?
The Mayor has long called for additional powers to be devolved to London, but the Government continues to largely ignore the capital when it comes to its flagship ‘levelling up’ policy. The recent publication of the London Councils Infrastructure Framework has shown just how crucial the devolution of more powers to the capital is for the delivery of key infrastructure projects such as the DLR and Bakerloo line extensions. Sadiq Khan has been fiercely critical of the Government’s ‘levelling up agenda’ and maintains that ignoring further devolution for London risks holding back growth and development for the whole of the UK. Khan has in recent months called for powers relating to rent controls, business rates and immigration demonstrating that he will continue to lobby the Government, efforts that will certainly be ramped up over the next year ahead of May 2024’s Mayoral elections and the forthcoming General Election. This spirit of devolution was visible at the Centre for London’s spring conference in April, which saw Labour and Conservative politicians agree that more powers are needed. Councillors Georgia Gould and Elizabeth Campbell, the Labour and Conservative leaders of Camden and Kensington & Chelsea councils respectively, argued that a power shift from Whitehall would make London a ‘more attractive place’ and introduce more ‘fairness’ in delivery of policy. Even Paul Scully, Minister for London and one of the prospective Conservative mayoral candidates, argued that levelling up did not mean ‘dampening down’ the already-established success of London. Whether this translated to a firmer policy position from Scully on devolution, should he be picked for the candidacy, was not clear.
CBI MOVING FORWARD
The CBI won’t be going anywhere, at least for now. Yesterday’s crunch vote on the future of the business organisation saw those members which chose to take part vote overwhelmingly (93%) in favour of its proposals to overhaul and reform the organisation, including making changes to its leadership and HR processes. 371 members took part in the vote, which was also open to those which had opted to suspend their memberships in recent weeks following the emergence of serious allegations made by female members of staff, though those that opted to cancel their memberships entirely were not able to participate. However, the CBI is not yet entirely out of the woods, with some big beasts of the business world having let their memberships lapse, while the drop in members has led to the organisation having to consult on making job cuts. The other challenge for the CBI will be whether it can convince the Government and the Labour Party, which both cut ties with the organisation following the accusations made, of its credibility. According to reports, the Government is set to engage instead with a new business council which is to be set up by the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC).
LCA BREAKFAST WAFFLE SERIES
We were delighted to have welcomed Richard Watts, the Mayor of London’s Deputy Chief of Staff, and the Mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz OBE, over the past two weeks as part of our ongoing LCA Breakfast Waffle series. Our clients and associates put both to the test, with our guests expertly answering questions on a range of topics, including property and investment, housing and affordability, culture and data. Get in touch to find out more about our forthcoming events as we work our way around the London boroughs.
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