“On the sixth anniversary of the tragic Grenfell Tower fire, we reflect once more, as we have done for each anniversary, on the progress (or lack of it) made on improving building safety. While it is encouraging that Michael Gove and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities seem to be getting to grips with the issue (some long-awaited consistency at the very top of the Department may have helped), the sector remains largely in the dark about what will happen next. The Responsible Actors Scheme (RAS) for residential developers was to be brought in by ‘early Summer 2023’, though there have so far not been any updates, and it has all gone quiet on the second staircase front.
Survivors, the bereaved and campaigners, who will gather together this evening in memory of the 72 who died, are bewildered by the lack of progress. The final report of the Grenfell Inquiry has still not been published, meaning that no prosecutions can be made despite the police having interviewed 40 people under caution, while across the country many are still living in unsafe homes which they are unable to sell. We hope that on the seventh anniversary of the fire, we are able to bring you some more positive news.”
Emily Clinton, Account Manager, Insight
We hope you enjoy this edition and if you don't already, do follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin. You can also visit our website for more information on LCA’s team, services, and clients.
And finally, a technical note: If you like hearing from us, make sure to add email@example.com to your contacts or ‘safe sender’ list – this will help ensure our news bulletin lands in your inbox.
THE FINAL THREE
The Conservatives have shortlisted three potential candidates to take on Sadiq Khan at next year’s Mayoral election. In a result that few saw coming, Minister for London and MP for Sutton and Cheam Paul Scully was omitted from the list, with London Assembly member and former Leader of Harrow Council Susan Hall going up against tech entrepreneur Daniel Korski and defence barrister Mozammel Hossain KC for the nomination. Hall, under the slogan ‘Safer with Susan’, has pledged to crack down on crime, scrap the expanded Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and amend the London Plan to ‘promote an increase in affordable family homes’. Korski, former Deputy Head of Policy at David Cameron’s Number 10, has spoken about ‘rebuilding the London Dream’ and has said that he too would reverse the ULEZ and introduce a tourist tax to fund the recruitment of more police officers. Hossain, who never publicly announced that he would be seeking the candidacy, remains a near-unknown outside of the legal profession. In his first newspaper interview, Hossain said he would force TfL to build more housing on its land and unsurprisingly, that he too would ditch the ULEZ and be tough on crime and gang violence. Hustings in this fast-tracked contest are set to take place until 3 July, with London Tory members voting between 4 and 18 July for who they want to take on Khan, with the winner to be announced on 19 July.
Meanwhile, Labour activists are set to be pounding the streets of Uxbridge for the next few weeks following the resignation of Boris Johnson. The former Prime Minister announced that he would be stepping down from the seat that he has held since 2015 with immediate effect, saying that he had been ‘forced out’ by the Privileges Committee’s investigation into Partygate. Labour’s candidate for the seat, Camden councillor and Cabinet Member Cllr Danny Beales, headed over to the constituency, where he grew up, to continue campaigning at the weekend. At the last election, Johnson won the seat with a majority of 7,210 but Beales has maintained that Labour are ‘not taking anything for granted’. According to reports, the Conservatives are trying to turn the contest in the outer London borough into a ‘referendum’ on the expansion of the ULEZ, which Beales openly supports. The exact date for the by-election has not been announced, though it has now been confirmed that it will take place between 13 and 21 July. Of course, Johnson was not the only MP to announce his resignation, with both Nadine Dorries and Nigel Adams doing so, triggering by-elections in their respective constituencies of Mid Bedfordshire and Selby & Ainsty. Unsurprisingly, it has been reported that the Labour Party is ‘going for the treble’, though the Lib Dems will also be eyeing up Dorries’ seat.
LONDON PLANNING ROUNDUP
Great Portland Estates has been granted planning permission by Southwark Council to redevelop Minerva House on the South Bank to retrofit and extend the existing building, increasing the amount of overall commercial space by 53% to 140,000 sq ft.
Plans by Acorn and Galliard for the redevelopment of a 0.12ha light industrial site at Bankside in Southwark has been narrowly approved despite receiving 129 objections. The proposals include demolishing the current buildings and redeveloping the site to include a block up to eight storeys for 6,780m² of office space
Global Holdings has received planning permission from Camden Council to redevelop the former Holborn Town Hall into 95,000ft2 of office space. The plans aim to adhere to low embodied carbon standards, including a building structure creating the UK’s largest timber frame. A second building on the site will include space for six affordable homes.
GLA-backed plans to build a 350 affordable home development in Walthamstow in partnership with Swan Housing and Catalyst has been abandoned. The brownfield site at Blackhorse Lane was halted due to high construction costs and ongoing economic challenges.
Landsec has submitted plans to the City of London Corporation for the redevelopment of its 10-storey office block at 55 Old Broad Street. It proposes building a 23-storey office and retail block along with a smaller five-storey building in place of existing premises at 65 Old Broad Street.
Sutton Council is to consider new plans to boost its town centre following the council’s purchase of high street properties in February 2023. It proposes granting new premises for Sutton College and developing cultural and commercial spaces in previously derelict lots.
Liz Mason has been appointed as Canary Wharf Group’s director of planning.
Tor Burrows has been appointed as Grosvenor’s Group Sustainability Director, while she will continue as Executive Director of Sustainability at Grosvenor Property UK.
Emily Brennan has been appointed as the City of London’s new natural environment director.
Elizabeth McKay has been appointed as the new Director and CEO of the London Transport Museum.
Peter, Lord Hendy of Richmond Hill, has been reappointed as the Chair of Network Rail.
Conservative London Assembly member Nick Rogers has announced that he will not be seeking re-election next year. Rogers was elected to represent Hounslow, Kingston upon Thames and Richmond upon Thames on the Assembly in 2021.
MP for Enfield Southgate Bambos Charalambous has been suspended by Labour due to a complaint about his conduct.
Camden councillor and London Assembly member Sian Berry has announced her intention to stand for the Brighton Pavilion seat currently held by the Greens’ only MP Caroline Lucas, who has announced that she will not be standing at the next General Election.
Earl Cadogan, head of Cadogan Estates, has sadly died.
As London marks the sixth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire, policymakers and the built environment sector continue to develop their response on building safety. The Mayor of London has today issued a statement calling on the Government to implement the Inquiry’s recommendations ‘without delay’. With the Inquiry final report unlikely to be published until 2024, the Inquiry Panel said in its anniversary remarks that they are ‘working hard’ to finish the report. Despite this delay, many of the recent developments from the industry on building safety have related to proposed changes in building regulations, specifically on a design requirement for second staircases to be included in residential blocks of 30m and above. The latest news from the sector shows just how much work there is still to do:
New research from Inside Housing has shown that only 16% of high-rise social housing blocks across the UK are fitted with sprinklers and only 12% have fire alarms installed. New buildings are required to include both preventative measures though there is no obligation in building guidelines for their installation in retrofit plans.
London and South East England-based developer Hill Group has paused four major residential projects due to regulatory uncertainty around the requirement for second staircases in tall buildings. The pause affects the delivery of more than 2,500 homes. It follows analysis from Lambert Smith Hampton and Connells suggesting up to 125,000 London homes face delays from the introduction of the rule.
Meanwhile, the Government has pledged to close a loophole in the Building Safety Act which disqualifies new leases from qualifying for Building Safety Act protections, particularly for shared properties or those with shorter leases.
Speaking at Digital Construction Week, businesses from across the sector warned that building safety regulations brought in by the Building Safety Act have been made much harder to implement due to a lack of standard digital systems.
Southwark’s Roman past has been unveiled after digs on a site found a ‘completely unique’ Roman mausoleum. In February last year, Roman mosaics were found on the building site for Landsec and Transport for London’s The Liberty of Southwark development, where they are delivering a new mixed-use scheme made up of 141,000 sq m of office space, 36 new homes and 22,700 sq m of retail space. Since then, archaeologists led by Museum of London Archaeology uncovered the remains of a mausoleum, including its walls and flooring, some of the entrance steps and a central mosaic, making it ‘the most intact Roman mausoleum ever to be discovered in Britain’. It is thought that the mausoleum would have been used by wealthier members of Roman society and the archaeological team also found over 100 coins on the site, as well as pottery and tile fragments. Excavation works are now complete, with historians now working to determine a date for the mausoleum. TfL and Landsec have committed to retaining the find for public display as part of the development.
It’s been a while since we have covered Transport for London (TfL) news in LDN and that may be because things are looking much more positive than they have been. Not only did last week’s Board meeting see Andy Lord, who was appointed as interim Commissioner following the departure of Andy Byford last year, confirmed as London’s permanent Transport Commissioner, it was also confirmed that TfL is on track to deliver an operating surplus, thanks in part to passenger numbers increasing to 85% of pre-pandemic levels, up from 68% at the end of 2021/22. TfL has also managed to significantly build on its savings, as well as reduce its debt. There are obstacles ahead, however, as TfL’s current funding deal with Government only runs to 31 March 2024. The Board papers state that if another funding deal with Government is not agreed, then TfL ‘would have to reprioritise its Business Plan’ and ‘start making difficult choices’. Lord has said that securing long-term funding from Government is one of his ‘key focuses’, adding that ‘transport authorities across the UK’ have ‘London-style’ funding mechanisms in place, with London ‘ironically being the outlier’.
GREEN PLAN BACK TRACK
One of Keir Starmer’s big investment pledges to boost the economy through green industry has been not-so-quietly scaled back. Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves sombrely told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme that economic conditions were no longer comfortable enough to see the £28bn a year package into action from year one of a Labour government. The package is part of Labour’s ‘Climate Investment Pledge’, published in 2022, which aims to align net-zero goals with investment in the economy and supporting jobs. The Shadow Treasury team have been working to establish themselves as figures of economic discipline ahead of the General Election, with Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Pat McFadden tasked with telling Labour colleagues not to make unfunded spending pledges before the election. The scale-back occurred after senior figures in the Labour Party are reported to have lobbied Starmer to broaden the £28bn pa green prosperity plan to include capital funding projects such as housing, infrastructure and transport improvements. For more information on what a potential Labour government could mean for business and the built environment sector, read our LCA Insight Special Report here.
SUMMER OF SPORT
Whether you are a spectator or a participant (or both), those of us who call London our home really are spoilt for choice when it comes to sport and exercise. The latest good news is that capital is set to become home to new and improved sporting facilities. LCA client Lee Valley Regional Park Authority (LVRPA) have announced that the Lee Valley Ice Centre will be opening on Saturday 17 June, providing two Olympic-sized ice rinks, a gym, dance studio, café and community facilities. Meanwhile, the Mayor of London has announced further details about the planned redevelopment of the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre. The repair of the athletics track and improvements to the centre’s indoor facilities are to be completed within the next year, while other parts of the site will be regenerated at a later date, with the hope that a planning application will be brought forward by April next year. Meanwhile, the for those who prefer to watch rather than take part, despite the sad news about London Irish RFC going into administration last week, there is more than enough on offer across the capital over the next few months, including baseball at the London Stadium, rugby at Twickenham, cricket at Lord’s and the Oval and, of course, Wimbledon.
Photo courtesy of Lee Valley Regional Park Authority
THE STORY OF 8 BISHOPSGATE
LCA recently secured an in-depth article in Building Online on the latest addition to the City skyline – 8 Bishopsgate, for WilkinsonEyre. The project’s development manager is Stanhope, with Lendlease as construction manager, all LCA clients.
The piece looks at how the project team responded to the task of avoiding impinging on views of St Paul’s Cathedral, resulting in the distinctive character of the building. The technical write-up shows in detail the journey of designing the building and how it fits into the City of London’s tall building cluster.
Photo courtesy of Mike O'Dwyer
Next Wednesday, LCA Director Andrea Kletter will be chairing a panel as part of the London Festival of Architecture on ‘Why London needs more risky play’. Speakers from Lendlease, the UK Play Safety Forum and Erect Architecture will discuss what the obstacles are to creating more diverse play spaces and what can be done to ensure that new developments include more exciting and varied options for children. The event will be taking place at The Rosy Hue pub in Elephant & Castle. Get your tickets here!
LCA prides itself on its intelligence-led approach to PR and communications and our dedicated insight team monitors London politics, news and issues as it happens. If you would like to know more about LCA or anything in this edition of LDN – London in short please get in touch.
LDN is put together by a dedicated team at London Communications Agency. The content for each edition is developed from news drawn from the last week from every London local paper as well as the regional and national press, from intelligence gathered by monitoring local, regional and national government activity and from the insight and expert knowledge of the entire LCA team.
If you would like to know more about anything covered in this or any other edition of LDN or if you would like to know more about LCA please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
We strive for balance and accuracy at all times; however, if you feel we have made a mistake, omission or have misrepresented a story or issue please alert the team by contacting the LDN team by using the details above.