“Today is National Writing Day – an annual celebration of how writing creatively can inspire people. Now, I’m not going to make any overblown claims about how this particular week’s LDN is going to stir the emotions of our loyal readership, but on this day of all days it does fall to me to edit my first ever edition, as I take up my new role with LCA.
As a long-standing avid devourer of LDN, being on the production side feels strange. But working with the excellent LCA team – particularly Emily, Daniel and Robert – I look forward to providing a rich, reliable and regular insight on the latest public policy and political ongoings in London and beyond.
As an unashamed policy and politics geek, and as a geographer by background, I’m fascinated by London’s endless restlessness. But the already breakneck pace of change feels like it is accelerating, driven by the upheavals to how we live and work caused by the pandemic and buffeted by inflation and rising interest rates.
Yet, at the same time, politics is increasingly caught in a holding pattern. Westminster’s focus is shifting to a General Election that could still be 18 months away. When the voters of Uxbridge go to the polls in a few weeks, will it be to send the government a message, or will more local concerns such as ULEZ expansion cut through (a topic I commented on this week)?
But it’s over these coming months that candidates and parties start crafting their policy offers. The very public battle of ideas that comes with this – as each side’s manifesto is interrogated and scrutinised – is a crucial aspect of a vibrant pluralism we take for granted.
In future LDNs, we will report on who is saying what as these manifestos are assembled. And this matters, because it is decisions taken by those ultimately elected to Westminster and City Hall which will determine the future course of the city for a generation.
If any readers of LDN would like to get in touch with me, do email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Nick Bowes, Managing Director, Insight
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London and its inhabitants often buck the trend and they continue to do so, according to recent polling. A survey carried out by pollsters Redfield & Wilton has found that more than six in ten Londoners support more housebuilding in the capital, while just 17% of those polled are opposed. Respondents were also asked about their attitudes to development in their own areas, with the majority saying that they support the delivery of more homes in their neighbourhoods. When compared to the rest of the South of England, which sees 50% of respondents opposing new housing in their areas, London’s an island in troubled waters. How this appetite for the delivery of more homes will be addressed remains to be seen, with both last month’s report from BusinessLDN and April’s report into affordable housing from Future for London providing a number of recommendations for how London’s housing challenges should be tackled. With it clear from the latest data, both from Redfield & Wilton and from wider UK findings from YouGov, that the appetite amongst the public exists for homes to be built, the question is will our political leaders respond to what feels like a growing priority issue for voters? Separately, Londoners have also been polled, also by Redfield & Wilton, on their voting intention. Of those polled, 41% said that they would vote for Sadiq Khan at the next Mayoral election, while the yet unnamed Conservative and Lib Dem candidates achieve 33% of the vote and 8% respectively, with Green candidate Zoe Garbett receiving 7%.
Just when you thought it was all over, the Partygate drama continues. MPs have now endorsed the Privileges Committee report which found that former Prime Minister Boris Johnson deliberately misled Parliament in his recollection of events. Of London’s 20 Conservative MPs, minus Johnson, seven voted to endorse the report while the remaining 13 abstained. To accompany the publication of the Partygate report, memories of a lockdown Christmas came spinning back with a newly released video from the Mirror. The video shows staffers for former Conservative mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey drinking and dancing at a gathering in December 2020. The footage has prompted a strong reaction and put the context of the Partygate allegations into focus for many, particularly as it coincided with the opening of the Covid-19 Inquiry. A senior Conservative MP has gone as far as suggesting that Bailey should decline the peerage granted to him by Boris Johnson in his resignation honours. While Bailey has apologised ‘unreservedly’ for the scenes, he indicated it was for ‘others to decide’ about his fate in the House of Lords. But for the loved ones of those who lost friends and relatives in the winter of 2020, no number of inquiries or apologies may be enough.
It looks like London’s transport system will be getting some new additions, though not anytime soon. Transport for London (TfL) last week submitted a Strategic Outline Case (SOC) to the Government for the extension of the DLR to Thamesmead via Beckton Riverside. Working with partners Royal Borough of Greenwich, London Borough of Newham, Thamesmead Waterfront (a joint venture between Lendlease and Peabody), abrdn and St William, TfL has set out how the extension could ‘unlock’ 25,000 to 30,000 new homes and create up to 10,000 jobs. Due to the size of the proposals, and the current state of TfL’s finances post-COVID, Government support will be required for the project to progress further, with the hope being that an ‘affordable’ solution can be agreed by 2025 and work can begin in 2028. As for Crossrail 2, speaking at a meeting of the London Assembly, TfL’s finance team confirmed that due to ongoing funding uncertainty, the project has been moved from being classed as a current priority to a future one. Meanwhile, Minister for Rail Huw Merriman has said in a written statement to Parliament that, while the Government remains ‘committed’ to delivering HS2 to Euston, construction will be paused for the next two years. Merriman writes that this time will be used to ‘look again’ at the designs for the station, to ‘develop a more affordable scheme design’ and for the Government to consider ‘how we might partner with the private sector’. Moving the lengthening list of transport projects stuck at the proposal stage to actual shovels in the ground is going to be key to the city’s continued future growth.
LONDON PLANNING ROUNDUP
- Clarion Housing Group has received permission from Merton Council for its £1.3bn plans to deliver more than 2,300 homes across two sites in Colliers Wood.
- Network Rail has begun developing its masterplan to redevelop Bow Goods Yard south of the Olympic Park, aiming to regenerate the 30-acre site through mixed-use developments and a new neighbourhood.
- Revised plans to redevelop Newcombe House at Notting Hill Gate have been submitted to Kensington & Chelsea Council. Following call-ins from the Mayor of London and Secretary of State in 2017, the updated design aims to provide mixed-use space across two buildings, ranging from 6 to 15 storeys.
- Co-living specialist developers Moda Living have received planning permission from Southwark Council to build London’s first co-living housing scheme.
- Kingston Council has approved Reed Watts’ plans to refurbish Canadian and Riverside Estates’ shopping complex Bishops Palace House, delivering a reconfigured interior to provide 9,920m2 of retail and leisure space.
- Tottenham Hotspur FC has submitted plans to add five extra storeys to its planned 22-storey hotel next to its stadium on White Hart Lane.
- A joint logistics venture between KSP and Patrizia has received planning permission from Brent Council to build a state-of-the-art logistics hub in Park Royal.
- Justin Young has been announced as RICS’ new Chief Executive.
- John Lewis’ property director Chris Harris has announced that he will be stepping down in November.
- Jehan Weerasinghe has been announced as the new Managing Director of One Housing.
- Hillingdon councillor Steve Tuckwell has been selected as the Conservative candidate to contest the Uxbridge & South Ruislip by-election.
- Julie Redmond has been selected as the Conservatives’ candidate for the Barnet and Camden superconsituency on the London Assembly, while Christine Wallace has been selected by the Party to contest Lambeth and Southwark.
- Mayor of Lewisham Damien Egan has announced that he is seeking to be selected as Labour’s candidate for the new Bristol North East constituency.
- A by-election for Newington Ward in Southwark will take place on 29 June following Cllr Alice Macdonald's resignation.
- Sir Michael Hopkins, who designed Portcullis House, Westminster Tube Station and the Mound Stand at Lord’s cricket ground, has sadly died.
KING'S BIRTHDAY HONOURS
As thousands of spectators flocked to the Mall to greet King Charles III for the Trooping the Colour, some notable Londoners and sector leaders were honoured in the King’s first official birthday honours list:
- London’s senior politicians and officials were honoured for their public services with Harrow East MP Bob Blackman and Former Lord Mayor of London Vincent Keaveny receiving CBEs. The Mayor of London’s Chief of Staff David Bellamy was also made a CBE.
- LCA client The Crown Estate sees two senior figures honoured, with Chair Robin Budenberg, knighted for his services to the Economy, and Non-Executive Board Member, Paula Hay-Plumb, receiving an OBE.
- Former Chief Customer and Strategy Officer for TfL, Gareth Powell; Director of the Elizabeth line, Howard Smith; and Resilience and Partnership Lead, Christian Van der Nest, all received OBEs for services to Transport in London.
- In the arts and heritage world, Chief Executive of Historic England, Duncan Wilson, receives a CBE for Heritage, while Managing Director of the London Symphony Orchestra, Kathryn McDowell, is honoured with a Damehood for services to Music.
- Meanwhile in sector honours, Chair of the UK Green Building Council, Sunand Prasad, receives an OBE for services to Regeneration, and Global Board Member at Rider Levett Bucknall, Ann Bentley receives a CBE for services to Construction.
- London’s health sector is also widely honoured including Chief Executive for the West London NHS Trust, Carolyn Regan, receiving a CBE, and Peter Barnes, Professor of Thoracic Medicine at Imperial College London, knighted for his services to Respiratory Science.
INFRASTRUCTURE LEVY BACKLASH
The Government’s plans for a new Infrastructure Levy (IL) aren’t exactly going down very well. Following the closure of the technical consultation on the Levy, 30 organisations from across the sector co-signed a letter to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) calling on the Government to scrap the plans, which had been proposed as a replacement for the current system of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and Section 106 agreements. Under the proposed arrangements, it would be mandatory for all local authorities to apply the IL and the rates would be based on the value of the development once it is complete. The letter highlights concerns that the IL would result in the delivery of fewer affordable and social homes, while there are also concerns that its introduction would ‘create prolonged uncertainty across the planning system’ and that it would be more complex than the current system. The signatories call on the Government to convene a Ministerial roundtable as early as possible so that they can meet with the Department to reconsider what improvements can be made to the current system. Watch this space.
In a troublesome financial climate, any positive news for London’s retail sector would be greatly welcomed. For the hubbub of the West End, the grey clouds of Covid-19 appear to be lifting, as Shaftesbury Capital reports seeing a 13% increase in sales figures since 2019. The property group which owns more than 40 acres of prime Theatreland real estate, reported last week that tourist footfall trends were positive with recent coronation celebrations seeing a ‘particularly evident’ return to form for the Central Activities Zone (CAZ). This cautious optimism was evident from last month’s Retail Sales Index figures from the Office for National Statistics, which registered April as an improvement in sales growth on the previous month. Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, Helen Dickinson, said that summer should see sales improve further if inflation eases and we see ‘consumer confidence slowly stabilising’ – though as the latest inflation figures show, it’s certainly not going to be plain sailing. But for successful retail, it’s not all about the sales. At a recent event by the Office for Place, sector experts puzzled over what makes a beautiful and safe high street. Chaired by Create Streets’ Nicholas Boys Smith, themes included creating a clear vision for prosperity, empowering design frameworks and putting people at the heart of planning. And as we wait to hear news of what could well be a landmark decision on plans to redevelop Marks & Spencer’s Oxford Street store, the sector is braced to see the front-and-centre outcome of where planning and retail collide.
TIME FOR PRIDE
As we rush through another June, thoughts of celebration, protest and liberation are on the agenda for thousands of London’s many communities. For the built environment sector, Pride month is accompanied by data from industry publication EG, which surveys LGBTQ+ Attitudes & Actions in Real Estate. This year’s findings show that improvements are being made since its first survey in 2017. 76.1% of its respondents, all LGBTQ+ professionals in the sector, are out at work compared to 70% in 2017. This improvement extends to feeling comfortable to be out to clients, with a new high of 52% compared to just 28% in 2017.There is however still more to be done to make change in the sector. The survey’s respondents suggested that visible allyship in the workplace and in positions of authority are crucial to enable wider change. Allyship was brought into greater focus recently following sector networking group for LGBTQ+ professionals Freehold appointing its first straight board member Anyi Hobson. The importance of having allies in top positions in the sector was made all the more topical in the survey’s disappointing reporting of less positive examples of good policies in the industry on LGBTQ+ inclusion, with one in ten responding there were no firms in the sector leading the way. Despite some positive progress, it’s clear that it’ll take more than just HR policies to make LGBTQ+ people feel more welcome in the sector.
Policy Exchange has published a new report, backed by Michael Gove, on placemaking. Better Places: A Matrix for Measuring & Delivering Placemaking Quality proposes a new matrix which would score the placemaking quality of proposed and new developments, based on factors including transport links and local public amenities. Each development would then receive a rating of outstanding, good, average and poor based on these measures.
Arup and Knight Frank have published a report commissioned by the City of London Corporation on the future of office space. It estimates that there will be a need for 1.9 sq m of additional space up to 2042. The report recommends that the City takes a policy approach in which office space for which there is demand is retained and adopts a ‘retrofit fast-track’ planning approach.
DANCING IN THE STREET
Next week, we'll be dancing on the streets of the Square Mile to mark PRIDE with our client EC BID. The flashmob, hosted in partnership with Combination Dance, will highlight inclusivity, togetherness and kindness in celebration of PRIDE month. The event is open to people of all ages and more information can be found here. Come join us in bright colours for a fun lunchtime break!
TRY LONDON'S FIRST EVER SPAM BURGER
In a first for LCA (and London), the team helped launch Greenwich Peninsula’s newest food vendor Huli Huli and introduced the iconic SPAM burger to the people of London. Huli Huli is now situated in the Canteen food hall & bar within the Design District neighbourhood on the Peninsula and is run by a husband-and-wife duo who are bringing Hawaiian delicacies to the mouths of hungry Londoners. Igor and Ann founded Huli Huli Hawaiian Street Food in 2019 and have since been doing food stalls from Mexico to London. Canteen Food hall & bar is their first permanent home and currently the only place in the UK to experience their unique dishes and buy their homemade delicious sauces. Hawaii is the world’s biggest importer of SPAM, the tinned pork having become a household staple post World War II. Despite its divisive reputation around the world, Hawaii consumes 7 million cans of SPAM a year (and there are just 1.4 million residents on the islands). It was a no-brainer, therefore, for Igor and Ann to put it on their menu. We’ve tried it and we would highly recommend you do too!
Photo courtesy of Anna Janecka
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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.
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