UXBRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER?
“For governments facing traditional mid-term blues, by-elections are a headache. So with three tomorrow, including in Uxbridge & South Ruislip – and with the bookies predicting a clean sweep of Conservative defeats – the prospect must be positively migraine inducing. The last time a sitting government lost three by-elections on one day (coincidentally also involving a West London seat) was 1968.
By-elections are a peculiar political phenomenon – the clash of national and local, with an added dose of good British humour. My first ever vote as an 18 year old was in a by-election – Screaming Lord Sutch* promised to bring the European Wine Lake to my home town. Will Uxbridge be lured by Count Binface’s commitment to bring back Ceefax and rename London Bridge after Phoebe Waller?
In all seriousness, disentangling the local from the national is hard. By-elections are overwhelmingly referendums on the government of the day. Yet parties are still desperate to ‘out-local’ each other with their choice of candidate, and fight it out over the area’s hospitals, schools and public services.
Uxbridge is also a dry run for forthcoming key political battles in the capital. Labour has the seat – along with Hendon, Chipping Barnet, Chingford & Woodford Green – in its sights at the General Election. Key for Keir Starmer is whether his appeal straddles both leafy swing suburbs as well as Labour’s strongholds in Zone 1-3.
The Tories must hold these outer London seats and, with Susan Hall now in place as their Mayoral candidate, find a way to launch a credible assault on City Hall. For them, the challenge ahead is how to build a broad coalition that includes suburban voters who are more pro-car, anti-ULEZ expansion and less supportive of development while also picking up support in inner London. It will be fascinating to watch which party manages to succeed.
Sitting governments suffer heavy by-election defeats and still go on to win the next General Election (see Mid Staffordshire, Brent East, Rochester & Strood) so we should be cautious about reading too much into tomorrow’s results. That being said, three losses for the government alongside consistent double-digit poll leads for Labour points to Keir Starmer on course for Downing Street. But a Tory hold in Uxbridge, and the battle for outer London – and City Hall itself – promises to be a lot more interesting.
*he didn’t win, but for the first time ever his held his deposit.”
Nick Bowes, Managing Director, Insight
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HALL VS KHAN
Susan Hall has today been announced as the Conservative Party’s Mayoral candidate. Hall beat Moz Hossain by 57% to 43%. The announcement came after a difficult five-week contest which saw the initial shortlist of three candidates reduced to two after tech entrepreneur Daniel Korski withdrew following allegations of misconduct. After being unveiled, Hall said she’d ‘do whatever it takes’ to beat Sadiq Khan next May. With new polling published just hours after Hall was confirmed as the Tory candidate giving Sadiq Khan a 12 point lead over the Conservatives (and Labour leading in London by a whopping 30 points), the scale of the challenge ahead is clear. An early response to the contest’s outcome from LBC’s Iain Dale is far from contented with the process. We will be following all the London mayor news stories closely in the leadup to next May’s election, so expect the very best insight in your inbox every week!
SADIQ AT THE POLLS
While opposition to the Mayor’s plans for expanding the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) has certainly been loud, the latest polling suggests those against the policy are in fact a vocal minority. Polling carried out last month by Redfield & Wilton Strategies finds that 58% support the concept of the ULEZ – on expansion, 47% back it with 32% opposed – and 52% believe the ULEZ has improved London’s air quality. Encouraging figures for the Mayor as he awaits the High Court’s decision on the judicial review brought against his plans to expand ULEZ. Redfield & Wilton’s polling also indicates Londoners want to see the highest priority on the capital’s streets given to pedestrians and buses – something for our Mayoral candidates to ponder as they begin in earnest to shape their policies ahead of next year’s election.
ACTIVE TRAVEL UPDATE
Central Government support for Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) is drying up after Transport Secretary Mark Harper called on councils to review them. Councils across the capital including Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest have introduced LTNs and it’s fair to say they’ve generated very polarised views from local residents and businesses. Transport for London (TfL) argue LTNs reduce road traffic accidents and prompt healthier ways of travel, and have even withheld funding in response to a borough withdrawing schemes. New research that reveals that local councillors standing on a pro-LTN ticket did not suffer at the ballot box might bolster the city’s politicians to be bolder in the future. Meanwhile, this year’s Healthy Streets Scorecard showed Hackney, Islington and the City of London as having the safest roads, with Hillingdon, Bexley and Havering named as the worst. Despite the controversy, TfL is showing no signs of stepping back from the active travel agenda with newly announced cross-borough cycleways, confirmation the Park Lane cycle lane will be made permanent and new contracts for e-scooters.
LONDON PLANNING ROUNDUP
Hondo’s plans for the delivery of a 20-storey office building in Brixton have been withdrawn by the applicant. A public hearing on the plans was due to take place on 21 July after the application was called in by the GLA.
Endurance Land’s plans to retrofit the N1 Building at Regent Quarter to provide lab space have been approved by Camden Council. The original planning application for the delivery of over 141,000 sq ft of office space was approved last year, while this latest decision allows the developer to transform the space into a life sciences hub.
Plans by Stanhope for the retrofit and extension of three Grade-II office buildings in Bloomsbury have been approved by Camden Council. The development at Minerva House, Fitzroy House and the Telephone Exchange include the addition of two floors to provide 106,736 sq ft of total office space.
Schroders Capital Real Estate’s plans for the demolition of the 10-storey office block at 55 Bishopsgate and the construction of a 63-storey skyscraper have been recommended for approval by City of London planners. The proposals include an additional 22-storey building which will deliver 103,000m² of total floorspace and a roof viewing gallery.
Avison Young has announced the appointment of Andy Ingram as director of its London markets team.
Chief Executive of Hackney Mark Carroll will leave at the end of August. Carroll stepped back from the role in April due to family matters. The Council’s director of legal services Dawn Carter-McDonald will take over as Chief Executive in an interim capacity.
Chief Executive of Watkin Jones Richard Simpson has left his role with immediate effect. Chief investment officer Alex Pease has taken on the role of CEO in an interim capacity.
Sovereign Housing Association has appointed Joe Marshall as regional managing director for development in the South East.
NUTRIENT NEUTRALITY NEWS
Natural England’s policy of prohibiting development on sites to protect waterways from pollution has been criticised by the housing and planning sector. The Home Builders Federation warned that rules are blocking 160,000 homes from being developed, dubbing them as ‘four years of government failure’. Despite a failed legal challenge from Somerset-based developer CG Fry & Son, the Government appears to have woken up to the impact this is having on housebuilding, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reported to be leaning on Natural England to scrap the rules. Comments by Lords Minister Baroness Scott of Bybrook admitting that the rules pose a ‘significant burden’ on developers illustrates that the Government is aware of the concerns, with the expectation that amendments to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill will be brought forward. Meanwhile, Labour leader Keir Starmer and Shadow Levelling Up Secretary Lisa Nandy have been turning up the pressure in an attempt to reclaim the housing debate for Labour in what is shaping up to be a key battleground on the run up to the General Election.
PLANNING POLICY PALS
In a new report, Landsec and British Land have joined forces, setting out steps to drive urban regeneration in the UK, boosting growth, new jobs and new homes. Drawing on their own experiences of delivering masterplans in London and Manchester, the developers have set out the steps they believe unlock brownfield sites and increase the delivery of housing. The reports highlights how development on brownfield land ‘suffers (…) from the shortcomings of the current system’ and recommend it be designated as a separate planning category in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), alongside targeted policies developed to increase delivery on these sites. The report also recommends changing the current planning system to improve efficiency and performance, including the creation of a centralised planning resource to handle issues such as viability and embodied carbon plus additional training for planning committee members.
CIRCULAR ECONOMY REPORT
NLA has published a timely and critical report entitled Circular London - Building a Renewable City. Timely because the debate about how London can be a zero carbon city by 2030 is - apologies for the pun - hotting up. And critical for the development industry given some 40% of carbon emissions in the UK are linked to the built environment. Whilst London is seen as having made a great deal of progress in recent years, the report sets out ten major recommendations including the need to produce a pre-demolition audit in planning documents for existing buildings to identify what can be re-used on site and elsewhere; a Demolition Impact Assessment (DIA) to compare the carbon impact of a retrofit option with a new build; and changes to Building Regulations to ensure mandatory assessments and reporting of whole life carbon and set limits on embodied carbon. It also calls again on government to change the VAT regime on retrofit. The report includes commentary on how materials such as steel, concrete and windows can be reused, has four interesting viewpoints and 55 brief case studies from the UK and beyond. As we await the M&S Oxford Street decision and property experts highlight how many redundant office buildings are sitting idly by, this report is an essential read for the industry.
HS2: Euston station ‘floundering’ while community suffers.
Mayor of London expands creative enterprise zones.
Our own Nick Bowes’s piece for on what next for devolution and London.
London makes the top 3 world’s sports cities.
Parliament Square could be pedestrianised under new plans just unveiled.
Burberry hits out at Government over loss of VAT free shopping for tourists.
THE POLITICS OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
Yesterday evening, our very own Declan Bennett and Emily Clinton gave a presentation on one of LCA’s areas of expertise – the politics of the built environment! In partnership with LCA client Avison Young, the event was part of the NLA’s NextGen programme and covered how local, regional and national politics all impact planning and our built environment. If you are interested in a similar presentation for your own organisation, do get in touch.
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