“London’s diversity is one of the things that makes it such a special place. It is home to people and communities from every corner of the world, and the richness this brings is key to its global city status. It’s one of the factors which drew me to live here over twenty years ago.
But with recent events in Israel and Gaza, we’ve seen how tensions from abroad can also be played out on the streets of London. Moreover, as the country’s capital, London is the focal point for national demonstrations, bringing large numbers of opposing groups on to the city’s streets. This has increased the pressure on the authorities – the police, and their difficult job of keeping the peace - and our politicians, who importantly need to show leadership and bring communities together.
This isn’t the first time, and while we might not be able to control events overseas, it is imperative that everyone strives to ensure that London does not become an unsafe city for any of its residents, just because of who they are, the religion they follow or for any other characteristic, ethnicity or lifestyle choice. To allow division to win runs counter to everything London stands for.
Also in this week’s LDN, we update on the Renters (Reform) Bill, the latest piece of legislation from Michael Gove’s department to be caught up in controversy. We also look in detail at the recent debates around devolution and the growing challenges with geographical inequality. All this, plus the usual latest London round up, planning news and people moves.”
Nick Bowes, Managing Director, Insight
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BETTER LATE THAN NEVER? After months of uncertainty and delay, the Renters (Reform) Bill had its second reading in the Commons on Monday and will be carried over to the next parliamentary session following the King’s Speech on 7 November.
Background: Previously, there were some concerns that the Bill, which was first introduced to the Commons in May 2023, might be scrapped. The legislation currently includes the abolition of Section 21 no-fault evictions and the banning of fixed tenancies (something first promised in the Conservatives' 2019 manifesto), as well as establishing an independent ombudsman and a Property Portal for the Private Rented Sector (PRS).
Resistance: However, Conservative backbench MPs had threatened to rebel over the plans, which they said would reduce the supply of homes. Labour has accused the Government of ‘betraying’ renters.
Slow lane: It has now been confirmed that the abolition of no-fault evictions has been indefinitely delayed - the Housing Secretary Michael Gove said that this was to allow time for the courts to be ready, rather than any political pressure from his own backbenchers.
Spinning plates: If juggling the concerns of his own MPs isn’t enough, heavy on Gove’s mind will be recent polling which shows that just 15% of private renters plan to vote Tory at the next election.
Reality check: City Hall analysis has shown that every week almost 300 Londoners face eviction from their homes as a result of Section 21. Prior to the second reading, a cross-party group of 60 parliamentarians and mayors signed a letter urging the Government to end the delays to the Bill’s journey through Parliament. The Centre for Social Justice has also published a new report, Raising The Roof, which makes a series of recommendations to Government on the reforming the PRS.
Next steps: Following the King’s Speech, the Bill will continue though the Commons to the report stage and is likely to become law next year, but the Government has not set out a timeline for court reform, with Labour saying that this could ‘take years’ to complete. Whether the delays to abolishing Section 21 quell concerns on the Tory benchers enough to ensure a smoother ride for the legislation is yet to be seen.
LONDON PLANNING ROUNDUP
- One of London’s longest running and most significant inner London (K&C) sites has moved forward as Ballymore and Sainsbury’s have submitted plans to deliver a major development at Kensal Gasworks consisting of 2,519 new homes, at least 20% of which will be affordable. The plans include the delivery of over 90,000 sq ft of retail and leisure space, a new high street, as well as a new 130,000 sq m Sainsbury’s supermarket.
- Meanwhile, another major site in West London also moves forward as Berkeley Group has submitted revised plans to deliver five further phases of its Green Quarter masterplan in Ealing, consisting of 582,000 sq m of residential space for around 3,000 new homes planned in approximately 50 buildings up to 10 storeys in height. Final housing numbers are expected to be confirmed in reserved matters applications.
- EID’s plans to redevelop the former headquarters of Tower Hamlets Council at East India Dock have been approved by the Planning Inspectorate on appeal. The plans, for two residential towers consisting of a 36-storey student accommodation scheme including 716 student beds and a 35,000 sq m data centre, as well as a 30-storey Build-to-Rent development of 150 flats, were rejected at committee stage in October 2022.
- Newham Council has approved the next stage of its £300m resident-led regeneration plans for Custom House, consenting to the delivery of 261 more affordable homes on top of the 95 currently under construction.
- Barnet Council is seeking a joint venture development partner to deliver the north east quarter and latest phase of its regeneration scheme of the Grahame Estate in Colindale. The plans involve the demolition of buildings containing 290 homes to deliver 505 homes in buildings up to eight storeys, in a contract worth £145m. Proposals to build a total 2,088 new homes on the estate were approved in 2020 following previous plans being rejected by the Mayor of London in 2017 due to a lack of affordable housing.
- Sellar and Network Rail have unveiled their controversial plans to redevelop Liverpool Street. The developers propose delivering a 20-storey tower containing 10 floors of office space, a six-floor hotel scheme and a 0.75 acre roof terrace with a swimming pool. The plans have been submitted to the City of London Corporation, with the Standard suggesting its consideration will take ‘years rather than months.’
- Landsec has unveiled its plans for the demolition of its eight-storey 1970s Hill House in the City of London and with the delivery of a 20-storey office tower. The developer has proposed delivering additional amenities including gym facilities, hospitality and leisure space.
- A joint venture between Chancerygate and SGN Place has received planning permission from Croydon Council to deliver a 93,000 sq ft urban logistics site. The four-acre site will be developed to include 15 warehouse units ranging from 2,000-16,000 sq ft in size, available to tenants on a leasehold basis.
- The Tate Modern has finally, it appears, accepted an injunction to restrict operations of its 10th floor viewing gallery following a Supreme Court ruling in February 2023 which found it gave gallery visitors a direct view into flats in Native Land’s neighbouring Neo Bankside development.
- Finally, outside London, Rugby Union team Wasps has announced plans to develop a new 28,000-seat indoor stadium in Kent following its collapse into administration in 2022. The team is ‘actively engaged’ with Sevenoaks District Council to identify a site for ‘The Wasps Nest' which has been compared to the O2 Arena for a potential to host concerts, exhibitions and conferences. After playing at Sudbury, Shepherds Bush, High Wycombe and most recently Coventry, it would be good to see them back close to their spiritual home.
- Former Waltham Forest councillor and Cabinet Member Alistair Strathern was elected as the new Labour MP for Mid Bedfordshire in last week’s by-election.
- Stephen Hubbard has been announced as a new board advisor for Bywater Properties.
- British Land has appointed Mary Ricks as a Non-Executive Director.
- Rachel Crick has been appointed as a partner in Montagu Evans’ planning team.
- James Pellatt, Innovation Director at Great Portland Estates, is stepping down from his role after 12 years with the company.
- Homes England has announced the departure of Chief Land and Development Officer, Barry Cummins.
CITY HALL UPDATE
NO PLACE FOR HATE: Within the harrowing context of conflict overseas, the Mayor of London has been vocally stalwart in his condemnation of rising hate crime in the capital.
Grim figures: New data from the Metropolitan Police has shown that anti-Semitic and Islamophobic incidents have risen by 1,353% and 140% respectively in the first three weeks of October. Khan called the findings ‘abhorrent.’
Who’s in charge here: Footage of pro-Palestine demonstrators shouting ‘Jihad’ prompted Home Secretary Suella Braverman to challenge Met Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley over their decision to not get involved. Meanwhile a senior Met officer has told the i that they are fed up with Braverman’s ‘overreach.’
Something to celebrate: Meanwhile, the Mayor celebrated the contributions of Black women to mark Black History Month at an annual City Hall Reception. Brent MP and potential future London mayoral hopeful Dawn Butler thanked the Mayor for the ‘uplifting’ event.
Colours and lights: As Diwali celebrations take place this Sunday, the Mayor’s statement announcing the festivities said that they are a ‘symbolic victory of light over darkness.’
Tunnel vision? The Evening Standard’s Ross Lydall has written that the Mayor’s plans to introduce road tolls at the Blackwall Tunnel could be another ‘ULEZ-style’ political challenge. Drivers could face a £4 charge per journey to repay the £2bn cost of building the project.
Stay in your lane: The Mayor’s request for Government support to introduce a discount for local residents was acerbically slapped down by Transport Secretary Mark Harper. The matter of funding, Harper states, sits with the Mayor alone.
Bad timing: With the current TfL funding settlement ending in Spring 2024, Sadiq faces uphill struggle to secure capital funding for the city’s transport network. Unlike a newly saved one-day Travelcard, the arrival of new trains for hard-pressed Bakerloo and Piccadilly commuters are also on the line.
Lizzie’s busy: Delays on the highly popular Elizabeth Line prompted the Mayor to intervene and apologise, saying the disruption was ‘not good enough.’ His Tory opponent in the race for City Hall, Susan Hall, attacked the Mayor, saying “once again Sadiq Khan is failing to keep London moving”.
Spot the Mayor: Despite missing the London Museum ground breaking and stone laying ceremony last week, Khan did mke an appearance at the launch of Thomas Heatherwick’s new Humanise campaign, which aims to tackle Britain’s ‘boring buildings’. Heatherwick, designer of the Boris bus, the ill-fated Garden Bridge and Google’s new King’s Cross HQ (jointly with BIG), penned a piece in the Evening Standard in which he tears into “soulless and depressing” new buildings.
DEVOLUTION: EVOLUTION OR REVOLUTION?
DEVOLVE AND SOLVE: The levelling up debate in recent years exposed just how centralised the UK is compared to many other countries. The lack of devolution is widely seen as a factor in why the UK has such wide geographical inequalities.
Regrets? I’ve had a few: Now a new report on Britain’s regional divide includes testimonies from a string of former senior politicians and officials, with many reflecting on their time in office and the lack of progress made on decentralisation.
Show me the money: In their contributions, both Michael Gove and George Osborne have called for greater fiscal devolution as key to promoting regional economic growth with Osborne, somewhat ironically, regretting more progress wasn’t made on his watch when Chancellor.
Labour gains: Commitments around greater devolution were a strong focus of the recent Labour party conference, with Keir Starmer promising more powers for all of England’s towns and cities.
Labour claims: However, Labour’s commitment was very much about widening the devolution offer, not deepening it – and thus offering little new for places like London.
Labour pains: Also, how greater devolution squares with Starmer’s new YIMBY status and his claims he’ll override local opposition to new housing and infrastructure is yet to be made clear.
YIMBY momentum? Meanwhile, former Tory Cabinet Member Simon Clarke MP warns his own party of the electoral risks of NIMBYism. Plus, a new pro-housing campaign PricedOut has launched, championing the building of more affordable homes and making renting better.
In suburbia: All the while, new research by the University of Glasgow reveals the extent to which higher rents and cuts to benefits are pushing low income residents out of the centre of cities, with the suburbs taking on many of the traditional characteristics of inner cities.
Greater London: In the same vein, new analysis by the House of Commons library has looked at deprivation in parliamentary constituencies, which showed that many in London have become less deprived, while those in the north-east and north-west of England have seen levels rise.
Not all pavements are gold: That being said, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s new report on destitution in the UK showed that more than one million children experienced destitution in 2022, with London showing the highest levels of any region in the UK – a staggeringly worrying finding. A cross party group of parliamentarians has warned that top down solutions to solving the nation’s deep geographical inequalities won’t work.
The big give away: Will any new government be willing to give up power to local councils and Mayors it recently fought so hard to gain, as part of the fight against geographical inequality? It will be fascinating to see.
- Whiling away a few hours on the now-viral London Tube Memory Game, which has certainly kept some in the LCA team occupied over the last few days…
- On a similar note, The Observer’s interview with London's Transport Commissioner Andy Lord.
- The Times’ article on London’s Knowledge Quarter.
- Speculation about what the Chancellor is to include in the Autumn Statement to help first time buyers onto the housing ladder.
- Hays’ findings that for the first time since the end of the lockdowns, more employees are working in offices full time than are splitting their time between the office and home.
- The Sunday Times investigation into the costs of building the HS2 railway.
A DOUBLE WHAMMY!
LCA’s Planning, Engagement and Politics (PEP) team helped our clients secure, not one, but two planning consents last week. Kicking off in Ealing, we supported Firethorn to achieve a unanimous resolution to grant planning through a comprehensive stakeholder and community consultation programme for the former Honey Monster Factory in Southall. The proposals, with designs by UMC Architects, will transform the site into a new industrial campus, with the potential for over 1,100 jobs and c.420,000 sq ft of commercial space. Committee members were extremely complimentary about the scheme, describing it as ‘lovely’, ‘brilliant’ and a ‘great’ place to work in the future.
In Kensington and Chelsea, Frogmore and C1 Capital’s proposals to upgrade the Hilton Olympia at 380 Kensington High Street were approved, as evidence of our continued success in the Borough. Marking the largest hotel planning consent that has been granted in London in a decade, the scheme will deliver 905 adaptable hotel rooms alongside a publicly accessible rooftop terrace, a café with outdoor seating at ground floor, and improved planting for local people and guests to enjoy. The designs, put forward by Studio Moren, were complimented by members, as well as mentions of how the scheme would provide a boost the local economy.
HOW 8 BISHOPSGATE IS MAKING ITS MARK ON THE CITY
LCA recently secured a piece in EG for clients Stanhope and WilkinsonEyre. Leasing Director at Stanhope Kevin Darvishi, and Wilkinson Eyre Director Oliver Tyler, are interviewed at 8 Bishopsgate about the mark it has made on the London office market since completion, as well as the building’s brilliant sustainability and wellbeing credentials.
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