ALL ROADS LEAD TO CITY HALL
Or at least it feels like it in this week’s issue of LDN, in which the vast majority of stories relate to the Greater London Authority (GLA).
The Mayor and his team have launched a new draft Strategy for Sport and two Action Plans relating to the Transport Strategy, collaborated with other partners in an effort to block Heathrow expansion, and hosted a public hearing on a major planning application.
Meanwhile, Sadiq’s cultural policy has come under fire, even as his war with Westminster escalates and the Conservatives announce their shortlist of three nominees for their 2020 Mayoral candidate. TfL’s latest board meeting has also discussed a number of key documents, most notable of which is its Q1 financial performance report.
In other news, the Housing Secretary has let loose a salvo of new policies and initiatives affecting everything from planning and development to local government and regional growth.
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MAYOR OF (COMMUNITY) SPORT
The Mayor last week launched Sport for all of us, his Draft Strategy for Sport in London, for a public consultation until 12 October. The Strategy covers how Sadiq will support everything from major sporting events to grassroots sports clubs. Indeed, the main thrust of the Strategy is aimed at ensuring the convergence of the two to provide tangible benefits for Londoners. Aside from provisions for leveraging sport to boost the local economy and public health, the Strategy seeks to wield it as a tool for improving social integration, with a particular focus on at-risk young people, as well as marginalised and vulnerable people more generally. It is significant that the relevant announcement comes at the tail-end of a press release on ‘activities he is funding to help keep young people away from the dangers of crime’ and, equally so, that the Mayor has decided to place community sport under the remit of Matthew Ryder, Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement.
MAYOR OF WALKING (AND DRIVING REALLY, REALLY SLOWLY)
Separately, two new policy documents aimed at realising the Mayor’s Transport Strategy’s commitments have also been released. London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, Will Norman, has launched the capital’s first Walking Action Plan, which includes a number of measures affecting the built environment, with the aim of making London a city where ‘walking, for those that can, is the most obvious, enjoyable and attractive means of travel for all short trips’. In a linked development, Sadiq, alongside TfL and the Metropolitan Police has announced the publication of the ‘Vision Zero’ action plan, which sets out measures aiming to reduce deaths and serious injuries on London’s transport network. The press has been fixated on one of the plan’s key features, which is to implement a 20mph speed limit on all roads controlled by TfL (which make up 5% of the city's roads, but at peak hours carry up to 30% of its traffic). Aside from the pros and cons of this particular measure – which are likely to prove hard to enforce – the plans actually contain much more including transforming unsafe junctions, new safety standards for the design of Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) operating in London and a new bus safety programme, which will incorporate speed-limiting technology and additional training for all drivers.
CLIPPING HEATHROW’S WINGS
A coalition of councils, with the backing of Greenpeace and the Mayor, have formally notified Transport Secretary Chris Grayling they will be seeking a judicial review into the impacts of a third runway at Heathrow. Wandsworth, Hammersmith & Fulham, Richmond, Hillingdon and Windsor & Maidenhead councils have claimed the Government’s National Policy Statement (NPS) fails to properly deal with the impacts of the runway on what is considered by some to be already substandard air quality, noise and congestion levels. Last week, the London Assembly also unanimously passed a motion resolving ‘to campaign to prevent its implementation’ and has pledged further cross-party scrutiny across its Transport, Environment, Housing, Economy, Planning and Health Committees as the issue progresses.
AND THEN THERE WERE THREE
A longlist of 10 has been whittled down in the race to be the Conservative’s Mayoral candidate for London in 2020. High-profile nominees Romford MP Andrew Rosindell and former Kingston Leader Kevin Davis have not gone through. The three remaining contenders are Shaun Bailey, a London Assembly member since 2016 and former special adviser to David Cameron; Andrew Boff, also a London Assembly member and former Hillingdon Council leader who had made the party’s shortlist back in 2016; and Joy Morrissey, who has been councillor for Hanger Hill ward in Ealing since 2014 and stood as Conservative candidate for Ealing Central & Acton in last year’s general election. The winner will be announced prior to Party Conference in October.
CITROEN SITE – HEARING
The Public Hearing on the GLA’s Stage 3 report for L&Q’s scheme at the Citroen Site, in Brentford (Hounslow), took place on 20 July. The plans, amended since their initial refusal by the council, include 441 homes (about 50% affordable, comprising 66 affordable rent and 152 shared ownership) in several tall buildings of up to 18 storeys. Hounslow, Historic England, Kew Gardens and residents’ groups continue to object to the project, mainly on the grounds of building height, design and visual impacts. GLA officers have recommended the amended scheme for approval, subject to conditions. The Mayor, who discussed the plans with his own officers, objectors and the developer at the hearing, will visit Kew to assess impacts on a key viewing corridor before announcing his decision, expected towards end-August. Sadiq notably challenged the developer at the hearing to clearly state whether the project’s amended plans provide ‘genuinely affordable’ homes. L&Q responded that the offer now stands at 50%, up from an initial 40%, while all of the affordable homes will be offered at the Mayor’s own definitions of London Affordable Rent and Shared Ownership. The project is one of nine planning applications called in by Sadiq since he came into office.
TAKEN OUT WITH THE TRASH?
In the time-honoured tradition of making major policy announcements just as the House of Commons goes into summer recess, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) is among several departments to have done so. These include the new, revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), the technical consultation 2019-20 Local Government Finance Settlement, an invitation to local authorities in England to participate in a pilot scheme for 75% Business Rates Retention in 2019/20 and proposals for reforms to the leadership, governance and accountability of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). All are of significance to both London boroughs and the property development sector and you can expect to read much more on these in future editions of LDN as we unpick their finer points and gauge reactions from key stakeholders.
KHAN’S CULTURE HICCUPS
This past week has seen two of Sadiq’s initiatives in the sphere of culture come under fire. First, Amy Lamé, the Mayor’s ‘Night Czar’, has faced criticism over her response to Labour-led Hackney Council’s new licensing rules, which set the default closing times of any new venues at 11pm on weekdays and midnight on weekends, unless they can make the case that a later time is justified and does not cause disruption. Lamé had initially Tweeted that neither she nor Sadiq are responsible for licensing. Following a storm of social media posts, blogs and articles arguing that it is precisely her job to fight for venues old and new, Lamé announced she has ‘demanded an urgent meeting’ with the Mayor of Hackney ‘to express concern’ that the new restrictions will ‘stifle its world renown[ed] nightlife.’ For his part, Philip Glanville commented that her concern is ‘odd given she's been consulted throughout the process.’
Meanwhile, London Assembly Members have taken issue with the proposed expansion of the GLA’s Culture and Creative Industries Unit from 27 staff to a total of 44, an additional budget of £737,000 from 2019/20. AMs from all parties sitting on the Oversight Committee raised a number of concerns during a tense session on 17 July, complaining that they were given little time to scrutinise it and arguing that the proposals submitted contain insufficient justification for the costs incurred. Officers have promised to return to the Committee for further consideration at a future meeting.
WESTMINSTER’S 'CITY FOR ALL'
Westminster City Council recently published its ‘City for All 2018/19’ vision document which sets out a forward-looking package of policies and service improvements across a number of areas. In a relevant speech, Conservative council leader Nickie Aiken pledged to ‘repay the trust’ of her party’s electors. To that aim, the council is reviewing its planning process by opening more avenues for residents to express their views, identifying enough space to build an additional 2,000 affordable homes and consulting on a new City Plan to underpin planning policy in the borough. It is also worth highlighting that during Aiken’s speech, she asserted that Westminster was a ‘brave local authority’ by launching a judicial review into Cycle Superhighway 11 (CS11) and walking away from the Mayor’s plans for pedestrianising Oxford Street. Furthermore, the Council issued a press release, in which it states its refusal to re-ballot residents affected by the regeneration of the Church Street estate. It states that the Mayor has ‘demanded’ a second vote as a condition for dispensing City Hall funding already earmarked for the project. The war between the Tory Town Hall and Labour City Hall grinds on.
While encouraging in parts, TfL’s newly-released Quarterly Performance Report for Q1 2018/19 represent a bit of a mixed bag – and a headache – for the Mayor. Sadiq will be pleased that TfL has begun the year with an operating surplus £37m higher than projected against its budget, and that its operating costs are £43m lower than budget. The organisation has also just exceeded its passenger income (£1.096bn) target in line against its budget (£1.095bn) with a London Underground income up by £4m against a budgeted £621m. But considering its ambitious pledge to meet an overall net operating surplus by 2022/23 a decline in bus passenger revenue, which is down by £7m on a budgeted £345m is concerning. Overall, London’s declining bus ridership appears to be a major impediment to TfL balancing its books, falling by nine million compared to Q1 for 2017/18 and 11 million short of TfL’s budgeted target for this quarter. It should also be noted that Q1 is the first quarter that TfL has received no operating grant from central government.
‘UGLY BROWN BUILDING’ NO MORE
LCA client Reef Group, along with stakeholders Ted Baker and the British Airways Pension Fund, last week received a resolution to grant planning consent from the London Borough of Camden for a 900,000 sq ft mixed-use scheme near King’s Cross. The site, currently named the ‘Ugly Brown Building’ is home to Ted Baker’s headquarters. The proposals will see a complete redevelopment to comprise a new global headquarters for the fashion retailer alongside the world’s first Ted Baker-branded hotel, 70,000 sq ft of retail and restaurant space, a further 500,000 sq ft of office accommodation and 73 new homes, including 21 affordable. The plans will also create new open spaces and connections through the site and open up access to the Regent’s Canal. Work on the scheme, which will be phased, could start as early at Q4 this year.
KX FACEBOOK LAUNCH
This week, LCA helped announce the exciting news that Facebook and King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership (KCCLP) signed a deal that will see Facebook acquire 611,000 sq ft of office space across three buildings at King’s Cross. The move marks one of the most significant commercial deals in London this decade, and got the support of the Mayor of London, who noted: ‘This investment is great news for the capital. We welcome Facebook’s long-term commitment, which is further evidence that London is open for business and a world-leading destination for major tech companies.’ Read more about the story in an article placed in the Evening Standard.
Several LCA clients feature in a new report titled Emerging London by commercial real estate company Cushman & Wakefield, which looks at retail and leisure opportunities emerging across the capital. Benson Elliot and Londonewcastle’s residential-led redevelopment of the Vicarage Field Shopping Centre in Barking, which secured outline consent in spring 2017, is key to unlocking a series of regeneration initiatives in the town centre (pages 20-25). Quintain’s continued transformation of Wembley Park (pages 36-41) is creating a major commercial and residential district including thousands of new homes. British Land’s redevelopment around Canada Water Dock, recently submitted to Southwark Council for consideration, proposes a new residential and commercial quarter for the Borough (pages 14-19). Read on in the report for a snapshot of London today and to find out more about the places tipped to be the capital’s most exciting opportunities of tomorrow.
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