ROLL UP! ROLL UP! FOR THE GREAT YIMBYs VERSUS NIMBYs CONTEST
“The news that Keir Starmer is an out-and-proud YIMBY feels like a moment. I’m not sure I can recall the leader of a political party being so categorical about their desire to push on with building homes and infrastructure, even if that means local opposition has to be faced down.
Of course, unblocking the nation’s choked pipeline of development is key to future economic growth and will go some way to tackling many of our social ills and achieving net zero. I have no reason to doubt Labour’s sincerity in wanting to meet these objectives, but the party has also made a political calculation that while adopting such a pro build stance might lose them votes in some areas, these are either likely to be in parts of the country not seen as crucial to winning a majority at the next election or they’re outnumbered by votes gained as a result of the policy – especially one assumes from younger voters.
This YIMBY-NIMBY balancing act is defining all the main parties. All recognise that constructing infrastructure is a priority, but at the same time they’re walking a delicate line between the country’s needs and their political bases. We saw at the recent Lib Dem conference that the leadership wanted to ditch the commitment to build 380,000 homes, no doubt in part shaped by the realisation that such a policy doesn’t play well in the key Lib Dem-Tory battlegrounds (see the Chesham and Amersham by-election for an example of this). The younger Lib Dems were not happy.
Back in the Summer, the Tory Government sought to get on the front foot on housing by committing to building more homes, but not just anywhere – rather, in the centre of big towns and cities and on brownfield, while committing to protect the Green Belt and the character of the suburbs. More homes, just not in the areas where the Conservatives are politically vulnerable.
Labour’s position is no different. They’ve crunched the numbers and know that talk of sacrificing some green belt, whilst driving forward with housing targets, new towns and imposing housing in certain areas won’t lose them the next election as the areas likely to be most affected aren’t their key targets.
Yet all three parties have to grapple with one major tension. There’s much talk about more devolution, yet it is localism in action that can get in the way of building key infrastructure and homes. How to square this circle? I expect this will become a subject of much focus over coming months – how to bring local communities on the journey. The solution surely lies in that old offer of a mix of carrots and sticks, and honesty from political leaders that there are consequences to not building homes and infrastructure. How brave the next Government is prepared to be in pushing through some of this will determine just how much we truly do get Britain building more”
Nick Bowes, Managing Director, Insight
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MY BACK YARD
OUT AND PROUD: In what is perhaps a first for the leader of a major political party, Keir Starmer has come out as a YIMBY.
Get Britain building: This follows a Labour conference in which the party unveiled a range of policies on planning and housing designed to support the building of new homes and major infrastructure.
Under pressure: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is facing calls on a number of fronts on housing. First, from his own side to respond to Labour’s agenda and commit to building more homes and infrastructure.
In the NIC of time: Second, from the Government’s own National Infrastructure Commission, that says £30bn a year of public money is needed for investment in clean energy and key infrastructure.
For Rent: Third, on the stalled Renters Reform Bill, where campaigners are pushing the Government hard to get the legislation moving again. Latest reports are that the legislation is now back on track, although it’ll be next year before no fault evictions are finally outlawed.
Bad to worse: Meanwhile, London’s housing crisis shows no sign of abating. Islington is the latest council to buy back right-to-buy homes, while a surge in the numbers in temporary accommodation has led to the city’s local authorities overspending housing budgets by £90m - cited this week by London Councils as a factor pushing some councils to the brink, with a total collective overspend of £400m this year.
Tough out there: confirming the topsy-turvy state of housing in the city, house prices are down and rents are up. Bellway are the latest developer to see profits fall, more indications that market conditions are increasingly tough.
Peace in our time: After a spiky period through the Uxbridge by-election and the subsequent fall out, it is reported that relations are on the mend between City Hall and Starmer’s office, brokered by the Opposition Leader’s new Chief of Staff, Sue Gray. Might this be the basis of a joined up offer to the voters of London?
Standard Time: More soothing words towards London and Sadiq Khan from Keir Starmer in a big sit down interview with the Evening Standard. Starmer’s comments on the importance of London’s future success as the nation’s primary economic hub will be reassuring to many of the city’s decision makers and business leaders.
LONDON PLANNING ROUNDUP
- Long running proposals for the expansion of Wimbledon look set to be approved by Merton Council later this month. The plans, for the delivery of 38 new courts and an 8,000-seat show court, have been met with opposition from local residents and politicians but have been recommended for approval by officers. Wandsworth Council is expected to vote on the plans next month.
- Plans by London Riverlea One for a mixed-use scheme in Poplar are expected to be granted planning permission by Tower Hamlets Council this evening. The proposals include 952 homes (35.5% affordable) and 1,548 sq m of commercial space in buildings of up to 23 storeys in height.
- Westferry Developments has unveiled new plans for a 1,358-home (35% affordable) development on the Isle of Dogs, delivered in four blocks of up to 31 storeys in height.
- Criterion Capital is to unveil new plans for a 567-home (35% affordable) development on the Greenwich Peninsula.
- Art-Invest Real Estate has submitted plans to Westminster City Council for the redevelopment of Sackville House in Piccadilly to deliver 30,000 sq ft of grade-A, sustainable office space.
Peter Freeman, founder of Argent, is to stay on as Chair of Homes England for another two years.
Bhakti Depala has been appointed as the City of London Corporation’s Assistant Director of the City Development and Investment Unit.
Natalie Campbell, business leader and Chancellor of the University of Westminster, has said that she will run as an independent candidate in next year’s London Mayoral election. Campbell had previously sought the Conservative candidacy, but failed to be shortlisted.
John Lewis has appointed Martin Gafsen from Royal Mail Group as its new Director of Property.
Newham councillor Cllr Daniel Lee-Phakoe (Labour) has resigned due to personal reasons.
Bromley councillor Andrew Lee (Conservative) has sadly passed away.
CREATIVE CAPITAL: London is world-leading in the arts and culture sector. Now there is a new campaign, London Creates, which will celebrate all that the capital has to offer. Backed by the Mayor and the Evening Standard, the launch of the campaign coincided with the 20th anniversary of contemporary art fair Frieze.
Set in stone: The relocation of the Museum of London (soon to be known instead as the London Museum) is now well underway, marked by the unveiling of a foundation stone in its new Smithfield Market home on Monday.
A new home: LCA is proud to have worked with the museum over many years on their move to a larger, more accessible home, designed by Stanton Williams and Asif Khan architects, which will allow the museum to display more of its collection, as well as double its number of visitors to two million a year.
The Story of London: The first phase of the new museum is due open in 2026 and the second in 2028, and forms the centre piece of the City of London Corporation’s Culture Mile plans. While we’re home to an array of world-class national institutions, having a new museum to tell the rich story of London says something really important about our values and what we stand for.
Discovery: Of course, it’s not just arts and culture where London delivers. The capital’s life sciences offering was boosted on Monday with a groundbreaking ceremony for a new specialised life sciences centre at Belgrove House opposite King’s Cross station in Camden. The plans, designed by AHMM for landowners Precis Advisory, will deliver a new UK Discovery Centre and Headquarters for global healthcare company MSD, offering office space for 800 employees, an education and outreach centre, auditorium, retail space and new step-free access for King’s Cross Station.
PRESERVATION: CPRE has published a new report on Local Green Spaces (LGS) designations. LGSs were introduced in the 2012 National Policy Planning Framework (NPPF) to provide the same level of protection as Green Belt to areas of green space, such as parks and public spaces, that are valued by local communities.
Designation: This latest report has found that the number of designations has increased by 771 since 2022, with a 64% increase in London.
Deprivation: However, the research has also shown that there is a correlation between deprivation and a lack of green space, though the number of LGS designations in deprived areas has increased. Access to green space has been proven to have physical, mental and social wellbeing benefits.
Recommendation: Drawing on its findings, CPRE calls for a more consistent and standardised approach to designations, as well as changes to planning policy to include compulsory standards for access to nature.
Degradation: Environmental charity Thames21 has published a new online map to show where contaminated rainwater from roads is polluting rivers in London, with Barnet and Barking & Dagenham being two of the worst areas.
Innovation: Retrofit is fast becoming one of the big issues for developers and property owners, and now Westminster City Council have unveiled new policies on retrofit for buildings in the borough. All eyes are still on the Oxford Street Marks & Spencer case.
Abolish the Cabinet Secretary and break up Treasury, says major review of Whitehall. Although others point to warnings from history for those intent on tackling ‘Treasury brain’.
New report from Centre for London on reducing street clutter in Central London.
For those who love a bit of political speculation, the Institute for Government look at when the next General Election might be.
Tourists are flocking back to the UK, but why aren’t they spending?
The UK’s housing crisis explained in charts.
Tory Mayoral hopeful Susan Hall: ‘I admire Khan for not complaining about Islamophobic hate’.
Why a bail of straw is hanging from the Millennium Bridge.
THE RISE OF BTR
LCA secured coverage for our client Get Living last week in Bricks & Mortar, the property supplement of The Times. The article by Hugh Graham is a market watch piece which interviews various homeowners who’ve recently sold their properties to move into rental homes, due to the volatility of the market and high interest rates. The people interviewed, including Get Living’s resident ambassador and property influencer Jade Vanriel, discuss how they will continue to rent while they watch what the property market is doing.
As it stands, renting is considered the more secure, sensible, and viable option for many while the market is so unpredictable. Jade talks about her current situation and gives a specific mention to living in Get Living and Portland’s Place as she evaluates the commitment of owning a property again. A great exposure and positive result for our client seeing as Get Living is one of the pioneers of Build-To-Rent and continues to be at the forefront of the industry.
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