BAH HUMBUG TO BREXIT
All EU secession pains and worries aside – and just a week shy of Christmas – politics and business in London are still rattling on as briskly as ever.
In this last edition of 2018, we look at Whitehall’s funding allocations for local government in 2019/20 – and London’s frosty response – as well as several stories from City Hall, touching on planning, economic development and the capital’s continuing transport woes.
Looking also to London’s councils, we feature stories from Haringey in the north to Sutton and Croydon in the south, as well as Westminster somewhere in the middle.
While this is our last edition before a deserved (if we may say so ourselves) Christmas break, rest assured you will be receiving a bumper edition of LDN on 9 January, covering the holiday period.
LCA and the LDN editorial team wish all of our clients, associates, friends and readers a very merry Christmas and a healthy, happy New Year.
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LOCAL GOVERNMENT FINANCE SETTLEMENT
Last Thursday, the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) finally announced its proposed Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement for 2019/20, which will be subject to further consultation until 10 January 2019. Councils in England will receive up to £46.4bn in 2019/20, up from £45.1bn this year. But London Councils – which represents the capital’s 32 boroughs and the City of London – was less than impressed, as this represents a mere 1% real-terms increase in core spending power. In his initial response, London Councils Chair Peter John asserted that ‘austerity is not over for local government’. While London Councils will surely put up a spirited fight for more funding in 2019/20, all eyes are already on next year’s Spending Review, which will determine the funds councils will receive from central government from 2020/21 onwards. Two relevant consultations have already been launched, both closing 21 February 2019, on business rates retention reform and assessing local authorities’ relative needs.
Meanwhile, the Home Office has announced its consultation on a Provisional Police Funding Settlement for 2019/20, also closing 10 January 2019. The proposals are for up to £14bn, potentially as much as £970m more than offered in 2018/19. The Mayor of London, who holds overall responsibility for policing in the capital, has protested that the additional funding earmarked for London represents ‘a tiny fraction of the huge government cuts to the Met Police since 2010’.
CREATIVE ENTERPRISE ZONES ANNOUNCED
One of the Mayor’s many manifesto pledges was to help the capital’s creative industries and venues, especially at grass roots level – a policy strongly pushed by his Deputy Mayor for Culture, Justine Simons, who has the rare distinction of having led City Hall’s work in the sphere of culture under all three Mayors of London. So now Sadiq has launched London’s first Creative Enterprise Zones (CEZs), following a pilot project in Haringey last year and the announcement of shortlisted bidders for the programme in March 2018. The six zones, each of which focuses on a variety of initiatives, are intended to protect local creative industries, spark economic growth and create more employment opportunities. They are located in Croydon, Hackney Wick (a joint project of Tower Hamlets, Hackney and the London Legacy Development Corporation), Haringey, Hounslow, Lambeth, and Lewisham. Each will be will be awarded an (unspecified) share of £11m in funding, drawn from the Mayor’s Culture budget, a skills programme largely resourced through the European Social Fund and the Mayor’s Good Growth Fund. This money, as well as any matched funding identified by participants, will be funnelled into increasing the availability of affordable workspace for artists and entrepreneurs, fostering more job and training opportunities, as well as tailoring local planning and business rate policies.
The results of London’s second and third estate regeneration ballots, under Mayoral rules implemented earlier this year, were announced last week. Both resulted in ‘Yes’ votes, making it a three from three positive results so far.
- In west London, Ealing Council and development partner Rydon announced that it balloted residents of its High Lane estate on proposals to replace 264 existing council homes (of which 51 have been bought by tenants under Right to Buy) with a total of 450 homes (of which 137 will be social rent, 72 London Affordable Rent, 10 shared equity, and 242 for private sale). 90% of eligible residents from the estate voted in favour of the proposals, on a turnout of 57%.
- Meanwhile, south of the Thames, Riverside Housing Association and development partner Bellway held ballots in Lambeth’s Canterbury Close, Geoffrey Close and York Close estates. According to relevant publicity, 67% voted in favour of the proposal, on an 87% turnout. It is understood the plans foresee the demolition of 135 homes, their re-provision at social rents and the construction of an additional 265 homes at other tenures.
WESTMINSTER PLANNING LATEST
The planning, development and housing landscape in Westminster City Council (WCC) continues to shift rapidly.
- A partial Cabinet reshuffle announced only yesterday sees - among other changes - Councillor Andrew Smith appointed as Cabinet Member for Housing Services (and handing over Customer Services and Digital to Councillor Paul Swaddle), as well as Councillor Matthew Green appointed Deputy Cabinet Member for Place Shaping and Planning. Councillor Iain Bott is meanwhile appointed to the new role of Cabinet Member for Sports, Culture and Communities and Councillor Melvyn Caplan will be replacing him as Chairman of Planning Applications Sub-Committee 3.
- Following WCC’s decision to combine the roles of Director of Planning and Director of Place Shaping & West End Partnership), current Director of Planning John Walker will be retiring with immediate effect, after 34 years with the council. The appointee for the new Director of Place Shaping and Planning role should be announced soon.
- After years of debate, it appears that Transport for London (TfL) is beginning to hone in on potential sites for the relocation of its Victoria coach station. At a London Assembly Budget & Performance Committee session last week, the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation’s (OPDC) leadership told Assembly members that it is one of several ‘long-listed sites’. But only yesterday, the Estates Gazette reported that TfL is in ‘advanced pre-application discussions’ with WCC’s planning team to relocate the coach station to Royal Oak – though several stakeholders including local MPs, councillors as well as residents are already campaigning against any such move.
- Meanwhile, the council’s Oxford Street District Place Strategy & Delivery Plan Consultation closed on 16 December, while its initial City Plan 2019-2040 consultation ends on 21 December (with a further consultation to be launched
SUTTON IN MAJOR HEALTH SECTOR PUSH
Sutton Council, in partnership with the Institute of Cancer Research, two NHS trusts and the Greater London Authority (GLA), has announced that it is on the search for a development partner to aid in the delivery of the planned £350m London Cancer Hub, a major project which envisions a ‘world-leading life science campus specialising in cancer research, treatment, education and enterprise’. Expected to create over 10,000 jobs, the campus will include a school, restaurants, cafes and accommodation as well as state-of-the-art medical facilities. The formal procurement process will be launched in January 2019, with the goal of appointing a partner by the end of 2019, securing planning permission by as soon as 2020 and completing the first phase of construction by 2022.
Meanwhile, neighbouring Croydon has seen Communities Secretary James Brokenshire overturn its approval of proposals by developer Thornsett Group and the Purley Baptist Church for the construction of several buildings on two nearby sites, including a 17 storey tower, which would have produced 220 new homes (of which 39 would have been affordable) as well as a church, community facilities and retail space. Remarkably, Brokenshire appears to have rejected the project not because of its (18%) affordable offer, but on the grounds of design and height. The decision was branded an ‘absolute disgrace’ by Labour Councillor Alison Butler, Croydon’s Cabinet Member for Homes and Gateway Services, while the developer now has six weeks to appeal the decision. The development has been strongly opposed by Croydon South’s Conservative MP Chris Philp, as well as a vigorous local campaign.
Aside from its high-profile Cabinet and planning team changes (as noted above), it is worth highlighting that WCC is set to elect its first-ever Labour Lord Mayor after the council’s Conservative group agreed not to put forward a candidate for the position. Labour’s candidate – who is running unopposed – is Councillor Ruth Bush
Meanwhile, Ade Adetosoye OBE has been appointed Bromley Council’s interim Chief Executive. Adetosoye has been the council’s Deputy Chief Executive and Executive Director of Education, Care and Health since 2016 and his promotion follows the retirement of Doug Patterson, who has served as Chief Executive for 11 years.
In the world of aviation, Alberto Martin has been appointed Chief Executive of Luton Airport. Martin was previously Luton’s Planning and Investment Director.
Seema Chandwani decisively held Haringey’s West Green ward for Labour in a by-election held on 13 December with 1,273 votes, way ahead of the Liberal Democrat runner-up Elizabeth Payne, who received 621. However, it is worth noting that the by-election saw a small turnout of 24.6% and – according to Britain Elects’ calculations – a swing of 8.4% away from Labour.
MAYOR SEEKING RENT CONTROLS?
A burst of articles by the Guardian and other media last week suggested that Sadiq is considering the imposition of rent controls in London, but the facts of the matter are a tad more complicated. Relevant reports point to a letter by the Mayor to a London MP, in which he said that he supports a ‘strategic approach to rent stabilisation and control’, open-ended tenancies and scrapping ‘no fault’ evictions under Section 21. However, as powers to regulate the private rental sector rest primarily with national government, sweeping rent controls are very simply not in the Mayor’s gift. Sadiq is clearly keen to signal that he is paying attention to the concerns of a growing number of renters – and indeed, landlords – who feel that existing regulations are not fit for purpose. All parties agree this is the case, as demonstrated by several initiatives, already well underway, to assess the nature of the problem and identify potential solutions. Sadiq has long talked about his ‘London Model’ for the rental market, but always as a policy in-the-making. So the only real story here is that, as the Guardian reports, details of his vision are finally ‘slated to be published in spring 2019’.
TfL STUMBLES INTO 2019
It is clear that the fallout from Crossrail’s delay is far from over. A session of the London Assembly Budget and Performance Committee scheduled for this past Monday was, unusually, deferred to January, to give Assembly Members more time to study its belatedly-submitted Business Plan. But a major Assembly bust-up before Christmas is still on the cards, with Sadiq and TfL Commissioner Mike Brown due to appear before an ‘Extraordinary’ Transport Committee session on Crossrail this Friday, 21 December. This follows a binding summons by the Committee, which has led to the release of dozens of relevant documents last week. Former Crossrail Ltd Chair Sir Terry Morgan was also invited to Friday's session, but according to relevant documents, he will be ‘unable to attend’ and is ‘working to attend a meeting of the Committee in early 2019’. Separately, ITV News London correspondent Simon Harris reports that TfL has confirmed the opening date for the Northern Line extension is ‘under review’ and that ‘documents point to a nine month delay’. On a more festive note for our besieged transport authority, Sony Music has declared that commuters passing through London Bridge, Waterloo and Stratford stations will be treated to ‘thoughtful and humorous’ public service announcements by the ‘undisputed queen of Christmas’ Mariah Carey, between 18 and 24 December.
WIMBLEDON ACE IT, LORDS CAUGHT OUT
Wimbledon is set to expand following the sale of Wimbledon Park Golf Club land to the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AETLC). Members of the Golf Club were balloted on the sale, with over 82% of its 750-odd membership voting in favour. The acquisition of the land will enable the AETLC to construct more practice courts as well as provide better facilities for those who queue for tickets during the Championships. The transfer of the land is not set to take place until after 2021, until which time the golf course will continue to be operational. Meanwhile, Lords Cricket Ground’s planning application has faced resistance at its Stage 1 referral by the Deputy Mayor for Planning, Jules Pipe. The proposals for the demolition of the existing Compton & Edrich stands and their replacement by new stands with a greater capacity of up to 11,500, have not been accepted by City Hall,in the first instance at least, as they do not fully comply with the requirements set out in the London Plan and draft London Plan – though Pipe has laid out recommendations for amendments that could see it accepted at a later stage.
LCA WISHES YOU ALL A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!
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