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This week, a month ahead of the Autumn Budget, the political posturing has started in earnest, a major decision looms for Haringey in a court case that could have a significant impact on regeneration across London and the long-running tussle between Heathrow and Gatwick to be the home of a new runway continues.
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Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid was in full spin mode at the weekend, ramping up the rhetoric on housing and dropping kitchen sink sized hints about what he ‘d like to see in next month’s Autumn Budget. Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr, Javid said that the government could look to capitalise on current low interest rates and ‘sensibly borrow more to invest in the infrastructure that leads to more housing’. He noted that this was contrary to the current austerity regime but that there was a clear need to address the housing crisis. Many have pointed out that this is similar to Labour’s position. After his Sunday in the studios, Javid’s department also announced a call for evidence on how to improve the home buying process. He also stirred rumours of a £100bn fund to build 500,000 rent-to-buy homes new and a request for £50bn to be injected into building on government-owned land. The Homes and Communities Agency is likely also looking for a major funding injection. Of course the man actually in charge of the purse strings, Chancellor Philip Hammond, appears to remain devoted to austerity and may not be willing to visit the ‘magic money tree’ for any of this. He apparently would prefer to stimulate the housing market by cutting stamp duty for first time buyers, possibly by raising tax on landlords.
MAYOR TAXING THE POLLUTION OUT OF LONDON
The Mayor of London’s new £10 Toxicity Charge (T-Charge) came into force this Monday as part of his manifesto pledge to ‘restore London’s air quality to legal and safe levels’. The levy, heralded by City Hall as the ‘world’s toughest’, will apply in addition to the £11.50 Congestion Charge; which means that if you own a vehicle first registered before 2006, it is likely that you will pay £21.50 to drive into central London on a weekday (7am-6pm). The charge has been broadly welcomed by environmental and health campaigners, though some motorists and business organisations have objected. Assembly Member Shaun Bailey (Con, Londonwide) has said that it ‘disproportionately punishes London’s poorest drivers and puts jobs at risk’ while conversely Leonie Cooper (Lab, Merton and Wandsworth), Chair of the Assembly’s Environment Committee, commented that she would like to see the T-Charge and related initiatives such as the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) ‘implemented at a faster pace’. The Mayor has also this week announced a partnership with the Alan Turing Institute to model better ways of monitoring air quality.
THE HEATHROW SAGA CONTINUES
The public consultation on the revised draft airports national policy statement (NPS) has been reopened, following the submission of a new noise analysis and air quality plan by the Department for Transport (DfT). The draft NPS re-states the government’s support for the Heathrow option and the Secretary of State for Transport himself doggedly insists that the DfT will be submitting its final proposals for the hub’s expansion to Parliament in the first half of 2018. However, the press has been quick to highlight that the DfT’s latest analysis seems to suggest the competing Gatwick option would have a lesser impact on local residents and the environment and may even prove to be a more financially attractive proposition. The consultation will remain open until 19 December.
WINNING LONDON HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DESIGN UNVEILED
A team led by acclaimed British architect Sir David Adjaye have been chosen to design a new national Holocaust Memorial in Victoria Tower Gardens, adjacent to the Houses of Parliament. Adjaye Associates, Ron Arad architects and landscape architects Gustafson Porter + Bowman stood out from an all-star shortlist with a striking interpretation, represented by 23 bronze fins cutting through elevated ground from one perspective and revealing from the other an entrance into a ‘hall of testimonies’, which will feature accounts from 112 British Holocaust survivors. The government has committed £50m for the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation to take the plans forward.
Image credit: Front View © Adjaye Associates and Ron Arad Architects
DEVOLVED HEALTH BUDGETS
Mental health trusts across 12 south London boroughs have been given devolved budget and responsibility from NHS England to improve Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in the area. This is the second such arrangement in London after a West London pilot was launched earlier this year. The South London Mental Health and Community Partnership, made up of South London and Maudsley Foundation Trust, Oxleas Foundation Trust and South West London and St George’s Mental Health Trust, will manage a £15-20m annual budget and the idea is to enable patients to stay near home rather than face treatment hundreds of miles away. The partnership, which covers a total population of 3.2m people, will also take charge of low and medium secure forensic services and so will be responsible for approximately £80m-90m of mental health budget in total. Secure forensic services will also be devolved in Barnet, Enfield and Haringey in a separate pilot next year.
HDV DECISION LOOMS
The High Court is currently hearing a Judicial Review into the governance, structure and implementation process of the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV). Put forward by local resident Gordon Peters with the support of solicitors Leigh Day, the challenge claims that the decision to establish the HDV was in breach of the public sector equality duty of the Equalities Act, that the decision should have been taken to full council, that residents and businesses were not adequately consulted, and that the Council doesn’t have the power to use the legal structure proposed. The action is against Haringey Council but HDV partner Lendlease has added its name to the case as an ‘interested party’. The hearing is scheduled to conclude tomorrow. Thursday 26 October. In other news, the council has firmed up guarantees that residents of council estates earmarked for redevelopment in Haringey will have the right to remain in or move back to their estate on equivalent social rents, and the same tenancy terms if redeveloped. This also covers any estate set to be regenerated through the Haringey Development Vehicle.
Westminster council leader Nickie Aiken is the latest Tory politician to have expressed concern about the growing influence of Momentum. Speaking at MIPIM UK, Aiken said there is a ‘move to oust’ Labour councillors in favour of more left-wing replacements in the run-up to next May’s local elections, and that there is an inevitability that this will harm the development industry if fully achieved, warning the audience ‘if they think I’m a problem, they ain’t seen nothing yet’. The Corbyn-supporting group this week posted a job advert on their website for ‘regional organisers’ to ‘support groups, members and supporters to campaign for Labour victories in the general election’ (paying up to £25k with London weighting).
SADIQ ON REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL
The Mayor of London was interviewed last week by former Labour Leader Ed Miliband and radio host Geoff Lloyd for their ‘Reasons to be cheerful’ podcast. Indeed, they were so happy he took the time that they decided to publish it as a special episode-and-a-half. The podcasts’ theme was ‘tackling the air pollution emergency’ and Khan described the capital’s air quality as a ‘health crisis’ and ‘an issue of social justice’. The Mayor also used the opportunity to say that he wants powers to cap the number of minicabs and private hire cars in London.
LENDLEASE NAB TOP CIVIL SERVANT
Sherin Aminossehe, currently head of the Government Property Unit (GPU), is set to join Australian developer Leadlease to head up its commercial arm. She joined the GPU in 2011 as head of government estate strategy and delivery, and last year negotiated a deal to move 5,700 civil servants to 20 Cabot Square, for which her team picked up Deal of the Year at the CoStar Awards.
LONDON GOVERNMENT DIRECTORY
The latest version of the London Councils London Government Directory has been published. This definitive guide lists details of councillors and senior officers across all 32 London boroughs and the City of London Corporation, as well as the GLA, its functional agencies and London’s 73 MPs. LCA is sponsoring the directory for the ninth year running and this year, we have donated ad space in the print edition to two great organisations; Tonic Housing, one of our charitable clients, which aims to build more and better affordable housing for the older LGBT community and Future of London, a not-for-profit network tackling the challenges facing urban regeneration, housing and economic development in the capital.
ON THE RIVER
Last week, Tideway invited some of the LCA team on a boat ride along the route of the new ‘Super Sewer’, which will deliver 25km of underground tunnelling underneath the Thames. Due to be completed in early 2024, this major project will vastly improve the ecology of the capital’s river, whilst also providing new green spaces and supporting thousands of jobs. London’s sewer system was first designed to service a population of just over 2m people, so with the capital’s population set to rise to 10m by 2031, the Tideway project is a hugely important infrastructure scheme and LCA is very proud to be working on it.
The future of the Piccadilly Lights looks bright as LCA client Landsec prepares to reveal its grand makeover of the world’s most iconic screens. The #PiccadillyOn campaign invites you to be part of the unveiling by sponsoring a colour which will form part of a 3D countdown clock on screen. All donations go to children's charity Barnardo’s.
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