WELCOME TO THE VERY FIRST WEEKLY EDITION OF LDN – LONDON IN SHORT!
Each Wednesday we will be bringing you the top headlines from the seven days just gone plus our trademark comment and insight.
We know that many of you are avid LDN readers and so we hope you agree that this shorter, sharper, more frequent version is just as valuable as its longer form predecessor and perhaps more suited to the pace and dynamism of this great city. We'd love to know what you think of the new format so please do get in touch if you have any comments or questions.
In the meantime, happy reading and we'll see you next week!
MAYORAL GREENLIGHT IN TWO TORY BOROUGHS
Sadiq Khan has called in a second scheme in as many weeks. Both applications were first refused by Conservative local authorities – Barnet and Wandsworth – and the Mayor has permitted them on condition of an increase in the affordable housing offer. Less than a fortnight ago, the Mayor gave the greenlight to Barratt London's scheme on the former site of the National Institute for Medical Research in Mill Hill, doubling the percentage of affordable homes from 20% to 40%. This week he's taken over decision-making from Wandsworth to approve National Grid UK Pension Fund's development on the site of a Homebase store, taking its affordable housing percentage from 23% to 35%. According to the Mayor's statement, if a certain level of progress is not made on the Wandsworth site in the next two years, this quota could increase to as much as 50%. Incidentally, both Barnet and Wandsworth Councils are Labour targets in next year's local elections. These are the third and fourth schemes Sadiq has called-in since taking office in May 2016.
NO MORE TRAINS (FOR NOW)
TfL has halted plans to buy 17 new Northern line trains and 10 new Jubilee line trains. This is reportedly only a temporary measure but the unions and media have speculated that there they may be other, more financially-driven motives, in play. Meawhile, TfL has also started a five week consultation on plans for two London Overground stations at Old Oak and Park Royal. The stations, at Hythe Road and Old Oak Common Lane, would link to the Elizabeth Line (Crossrail) and High Speed 2.
BOUNDARY CHANGES MOOTED
On Tuesday, the Boundary Commission for England published heavily revised proposals for changes to MPs’ constituencies, as it opens its third and final consultation. First drafted during the Coalition Government as part of efforts to cut the number of MPs from 650 to 600 and ensure that the number of voters in each constituency is roughly equal, the Conservative leadership has repeatedly failed to secure sufficient political support to ratify the changes. Following subsequent consultations and changes, the proposals are still widely seen as most benefitting the Conservatives overall. Indeed, Labour has consistently opposed them, as have the Liberal Democrats and even the Government’s allies, the Northern Irish DUP. It currently appears unlikely that they will be approved, at least as long as the DUP remain opposed. If the changes do eventually get voted through there would be 68 seats in London, down from 73 now and many constituencies would see significant change, including Jeremy Corbyn, Emily Thornberry and Diane Abbott's seats. It will of course also affect the Tories, with Boris Johnson’s hold on his constituency potentially threatened. Similar plans for Wales and Scotland have also been published, while revised plans for Northern Ireland are expected early in the new year. If these proposals are rejected again, the next General Election will use demographic data last updated in 2000.
SAINSBURY'S DEVELOPMENT IN REDBRIDGE
Redbridge Council and Sainsbury’s have been criticised by residents’ groups following the approval of a planning application which includes only 4% affordable housing on-site (27 of 683 new homes). Despite initially rejecting the scheme on the grounds that it didn’t meet the minimum threshold, the Council consented the high-rise development following an appeals process. The supermarket's application appears to have passed muster on the grounds of financial viability – and a commitment to paying a hefty £11.4m Community Infrastructure Levy. The project is still subject to a public inquiry which began this week.
THE TORIES (REALISE THEY) HAVE A LONDON PROBLEM
Following the Conservative Party Conference, there has been a lot of talk of the Tory's 'London problem' – as reflected by Labour’s convincing electoral advances in the city at local, regional and national level. At the General Election in June, where Labour gained four seats to hold 49 out of 73 overall, they also won 55% of the capital's vote overall. Tellingly, Labour now has 28 London seats with a majority of over 20,000 votes and another 15 with a majority of over 10,000. Local Conservative councillors and activists are calling for a renewed focus on social media and issues that matter to Londoners, particularly young Londoners, and on ensuring that the party better reflects the city’s demographic profile. Their calls have been echoed by more senior party members, notably including London MEP Syed Kamall and Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson – and have now reportedly reached the ears of the tory top brass.
WALTHAM FOREST OPENS UP
Waltham Forest Council has been in the headlines a lot over the last few weeks, and it's all about change and development for the outer London borough. The authority has the best record in London for delivering affordable housing and in late August the Mayor announced that the Webbs Industrial Estate, bought by City Hall last year, will be released for development and will provide 330 affordable homes for first time buyers as part of a deal with Catalyst. There will be no market price homes on site. More recently, the Leader of the Council Claire Coghill has welcomed development on the TfL-owned car park at Blackhorse Lane. The site by the Victoria line tube station will be developed by Barratt London and L&Q as part of a push to get 2,500 homes built in the immediate area. The Council is also now looking to appoint a design team to bring its vision for 'a new neighbourhood, council offices and community campus' on the Town Hall site to life. Meanwhile, the £8m project to open the Walthamstow Wetlands, a site of Special Scientific Interest, to the public has just been completed by Thames Water and the Council.
CENTRAL EALING NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN APPROVED
Residents and businesses that turned out on 12 October to vote in twin referenda on the Central Ealing Neighbourhood Plan (CENP) overwhelmingly backed the initiative. The CENP was drawn up over the course of five years by the Central Ealing Neighbourhood Forum, which represents local residents and businesses; the plan is designed to stimulate and guide development in conjunction with wider plans by Ealing Council and the GLA – and will have a bearing on planning applications for projects within its boundaries. Neighbourhood Forums have sprung up in other London boroughs and are at various stages of developing their plans and securing approval; notable examples include the cross-borough Highgate Neighbourhood Forum, whose Plan was approved by referendum in July 2017 in Camden and Haringey, but also the Old Oak Neighbourhood Forum, which has struggled to gain recognition by its local planning authority, the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC).
LONDON THE 'BEST MEGACITY FOR WOMEN'
According to a Thomson Reuters Foundation survey released this Monday, London is the world's ‘most female-friendly megacity’. Mayor Sadiq Khan commented that ‘there is no other city in the world where I would want to raise my daughters’ although he also remarked that more must be done to achieve gender equality – echoing recent statements by London Fire Brigade commissioner Dany Cotton.
BEYOND THE CITY CENTRE
The Building Centre was packed last week for the launch of NLA’s latest study and exhibition London’s Towns – shaping the polycentric city. LCA was pleased to be on board to promote the report which reveals a vision for London as a truly multi-centred city and examines how further development in outer London’s town centres should follow six core principles to ensure good growth and cope with the capital’s projected population increase. It showcases many of the projects transforming the 200-plus town centres and also highlights the outcome of a major design workshop, demonstrating the potential of TfL’s station sites. The London’s Towns exhibition and events programme runs until mid-January.
HOUSING AT NO. 10
Earlier this week, LCA client Quintain was part of a roundtable discussion on housebuilding with the Prime Minister, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid and Minister for Housing Alok Sharma. The central theme was how to get more homes built quickly and particular topics included modern construction methods, construction skills and enabling more SME developers to get involved.
LCA is out in force at MIPIM UK, chairing sessions on West and East London and enjoying the very first dedicated London presence at the national property event. There has long been a major London Stand at MIPIM Cannes but this is the first year that the capital is officially represented at the UK-based property show. The London Stand is supported by the GLA and London & Partners and delivered by Pipers and New London Architecture.
LCA prides itself on its intelligence-led approach to PR and communications and our dedicated research team monitors London politics, news and issues as it happens. If you would like to know more about LCA or anything in this edition of LDN – London in short please get in touch.
LDN is put together by a dedicated team at London Communications Agency. The content for each edition is developed from news drawn from the last week from every London local paper as well as the regional and national press, from intelligence gathered by monitoring local, regional and national government activity and from the insight and expert knowledge of the entire LCA team.
If you would like to know more about anything covered in this or any other edition of LDN or if you would like to know more about LCA please contact Jenna Goldberg on 020 7612 8480 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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