MIXING IT UP
Mixed messages for the environment as Heathrow expansion clears a major hurdle, while the concept of road user charging moves up the agenda.
Mixed results for developers as a scheme in K&C gets the red light, while one of the final pieces of the King’s Cross jigsaw gets the green.
And a mixed bag for psephologists as local elections loom across the country, European elections appear inevitable and the picture clarifies ahead of the Mayoral and London Assembly elections next year.
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Despite their best efforts, campaigners opposing a third runway at Heathrow have lost their High Court challenge against the planned expansion. Five separate challenges were lodged questioning the legality of the relevant national policy statement (NPS) adopted by the Government, which campaigners, including Sadiq and several London boroughs, believe fails to sufficiently address the impact of the proposed expansion regarding pollution, noise and congestion. Construction of the new runway may begin as early as 2021, but following the Extinction Rebellion protests, and the increase in awareness of environmental issues more generally, we can be sure that this decision is not the last word in the long-running dispute over airport expansion.
Following last week’s reports of a 'Zone 2 Housing crisis', a more considered look at the data from research company Molior paints a slightly less alarming picture. The Evening Standard had reported that 'just 77 new homes' were started in the first quarter of this year 'down an unprecedented 97% from the quarterly average in 2015' but in fact this is just those built by private sector developers. In London as a whole, work started on 5,453 new homes in that period, down 18% on the same time last year and though Zone 1 starts and sales are also lower than last year, zones 3 to 6 have seen increases. Unlike the Evening Standard, Molior’s relevant press release does not mention City Hall, pointing instead to Government policy for the changes. The next edition of the London Plan Annual Monitoring Report (AMR) is due this month and this should paint a more comprehensive picture of the market in London.
IT'S A NO FROM PIPE
Deputy Mayor for Planning Jules Pipe has rejected proposals for a luxury care complex on the site of Heythrop College in Kensington and Chelsea over the scheme’s lack of affordable housing. The Council had previously accepted the developer’s argument that the affordable housing requirement did not apply to the proposals as it constituted specialist housing. The plans included the construction of 150 homes on the site, just five of which would have been affordable – well under Sadiq’s 35% affordable housing target, which Pipe has insisted does in fact apply to the scheme. Pipe also remarked that the poor performance of the borough in its delivery of affordable homes was another deciding factor, noting that only 89 affordable homes were completed in K&C in the year to April 2018.
PDR EXEMPTION EXTENSIONS
Following Labour’s pledge to axe permitted development (PD) rights for office-to-residential conversions, a report published on Friday by a House of Lords Select Committee on Intergenerational Fairness and Provision has asserted that PD rights have 'made it more difficult for local authorities to plan for their local area'. In addition, a Property Week report has found that 15 of the 17 English councils (and 10 of the 11 in London) which are currently exempt from PD rights have confirmed they are seeking to extend their exemption beyond 31 May. Councillor Guy Nicholson, Hackney’s Cabinet Member responsible for Planning, is quoted as saying that his borough’s decision is driven by a belief that PD rights only create 'ghettos' and 'the slums of the future'.
We thought we might get away without an election this year, but a European Parliament poll on 23 May is looking increasingly likely (though the Government insists that it is still aiming to secure withdrawal from the EU before that date). Since the official Brexit date was provisionally extended to 31 October, Returning Officers have been busy making preparations. Nominations closed last Thursday, and we recommend reading Dave Hill’s overview of the candidates for the London region’s eight seats, which currently comprise four Labour, two Conservative and one each for the Green Party and UKIP.
Meanwhile, two local by-elections will take place tomorrow (Thursday 2 May) to elect councillors for the Evelyn and Whitefoot wards in Lewisham. The by-elections will coincide with local elections taking place elsewhere in England and Northern Ireland tomorrow, including the vast majority of district and borough councils, as well as unitary authorities in the Home Counties around London.
RECORD BREAKING LONDON MARATHON
This year’s London Marathon, which took place on 28 April, was record-breaking in more ways than one. Over 40,000 participants started the race - a record number in itself - and 38 Guinness World Records are also said to have been broken throughout the course of the day. The 39th London Marathon, which saw runners start in Greenwich and finish on the Mall, passing London landmarks such as Tower Bridge, raised over £45m for charitable causes, with £1bn now having been raised since the event began in 1981.
The City of London Corporation has confirmed that the site of a former power station in Barking is its preferred choice for the relocation of its historic markets. The Smithfield, Billingsgate and New Spitalfields markets may be moved to Barking Reach under plans by owner and operator, the City of London Corporation, in order to ‘secure their success’. The site in Barking and Dagenham was acquired by the Corporation in December 2018 and if the move goes ahead, will accommodate the three markets in a single purpose-built facility, creating 3,500 jobs. While the proposed move may well meet some opposition, it is suggested that traders will welcome the good transport links provided by the new site. The move is however, subject to a public consultation, and will also require the passing of a Private Bill through Parliament.
With just over a year to go until 7 May 2020, all the main parties have selected their Mayoral candidates and we will be covering the runners and riders in a new LCA blog next week. Meanwhile, the selection process for Assembly candidates is ongoing. Previous editions of LDN have covered the London Conservatives, Green Party and Liberal Democrats, who have already selected their ‘list candidates’ for the Assembly’s 11 Londonwide seats and most of their candidates for 14 of the Assembly constituencies. London Labour, meanwhile, has kept its selection process low profile but we do know that five sitting Labour AMs (from a group of 12) have decided to step down at the next election, suggesting that there will be lots of new faces post-election. According to social media activity, Constituency Labour Parties have finally begun voting on whether to reselect incumbents to stand in 2020, with Unmesh Desai (Barking & Dagenham, City of London, Newham, Tower Hamlets constituency) having secured a positive vote last week.
- Following the sacking of Sir Roger Scruton, the Government has appointed Nicholas Boys Smith as the new Chair of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission. Boys Smith is Director of Create Streets and a former Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Walthamstow.
- Hyde Group has announced that Elaine Bailey, its Chief Executive for the past five years, is to retire. Bailey will be staying on as Chief Executive until her successor is in place and a competitive recruitment process has already begun, with the aim of making an appointment in July.
- Philip Jenkins has been appointed Group Development Director at Catalyst. Jenkins is currently Managing Director at Taylor Wimpey Central London and will be moving into his new role in July, not long after the planned merger between Catalyst and Aldwyck happens this month.
- Alistair Moss has been elected Chair of the City of London Corporation’s Planning and Transportation committee. Moss, a property lawyer by trade, was previously Deputy Chair of the Committee.
- Also in the City, Tracey Graham has been elected as new Common Councillor for Cordwainer Ward, and Tim Hailes has been re-elected as Alderman for Bassishaw Ward.
CfL ON ROAD CHARGING
Centre for London’s latest report, Green Light, proposes the implementation of a new, unified road user charging system in London, which would ‘ensure that everyone who contributes to congestion and pollution pays’. This system would replace all current road user charging systems, including the congestion charge and the recently launched Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), and would charge drivers based on the distance travelled. Using available technologies already being developed and trialled elsewhere, prices would vary based on vehicle characteristics, local congestion and pollution, as well as the availability of public transport alternatives. A single platform, accessible online and via a smartphone app, would both help enforcement and empower people to make informed decisions about their travel. The report calls this platform City Move. Considering the importance of tackling London’s poor air quality, as well as the reactions raised in some quarters by the Mayor’s new ULEZ charge, the report and its recommendations are a timely and welcome contribution. At the packed Arup meeting room in Fitzrovia on Monday, discussion inevitably focused on the devil in the detail especially around privacy of information and equity around charging. However, amongst the audience assembled there was strong consensus that road user charging’s time is fast approaching. This is certainly an issue to watch as all the Mayoral candidates develop their manifestos for next year.
A PLACE TO CALL HOME
London Councils’ not-for-profit company, PLACE (Pan-London Accommodation Collaborative Enterprise), has announced Extraspace Solution as its chosen supplier of modular homes. Extraspace Solutions is set to design and provide the company with 200 high-quality modular homes by 2021, set to be used as temporary accommodation for homeless families by London boroughs, on sites earmarked for future development. As previously reported in LDN, PLACE was established by London Councils in May 2018 in response to the increasing rates of homelessness in the capital and is partially funded by the GLA.
TRUST IN DEVELOPERS?
Commercial real estate news website Bisnow surveyed its London readership about 'how the development process is working now and how it can be improved'. According to the survey’s headline results, the 'industry accepts a share of the blame for the lack of trust between developers and local communities' but appears 'unwilling to substantially alter the system to change this'. Indeed, while 53% of respondents said the current level of distrust toward developers is justified, only 26% thought that the statutory amount of consultation developers are forced to undertake with local communities should be increased and 42% thought the viability assessments system should be scrapped. Clearly, this is the view from a certain part of the property sector but the very fact of the survey itself is evidence of an increasing awareness of the troubled relationship between developers and the communities they work in and the elements that cause the greatest friction.
GALLIFORD TRY TO DELIVER MERIDIAN
Last week, LCA client Enfield Council announced that Galliford Try Partnerships will be delivering the first 725 homes as part of Meridian One, the first phase of the Council’s £6bn Meridian Water scheme. The decision was made by Enfield’s Cabinet following a robust evaluation of four very strong shortlisted bids by Galliford Try, L&Q, Peabody and Redrow. The first homes, which will include a significant number of affordable homes, will be built by 2022. These will be complemented by new public squares, shops and leisure facilities, and will be located around the new Meridian Water station, which is due to open next month.
W ZONE AT KING'S CROSS
W Zone at King’s Cross was this week given the final go-ahead by Islington Council, and LCA has been busy breaking the news. The site, which will feature three mixed-use buildings as well as ecology gardens, is one of the final pieces in the King’s Cross jigsaw and is set to be complete by 2022. The W Zone masterplan, developed by David Morley Architects, includes 218 new homes as well as leisure spaces, and a managed ecology garden with a focus on education and community engagement, to be known as the Habitat Zone. LCA are looking forward to making further announcements about W Zone and the King’s Cross development – watch this space!
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