Last week, Sajid Javid was lobbying for housebuilding money, this week, it’s Sadiq’s turn. At least we can say there’s cross-party consensus on this front!
Meanwhile, we check in on the health of London’s economy, the status of London’s protected buildings and views, and the ongoing impact of the tragedy at Grenfell Tower.
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KHAN RAISES LONDON PLAN HOUSEBUILDING TARGETS
Less than a month ahead of the Autumn Budget, the Mayor of London has called for the Government to take drastic action and return to levels of funding for affordable housing in the capital last seen under Gordon Brown’s premiership. Sadiq Khan’s press release notes that 2009/10 funding stood at £1.75bn per year whereas it has now dropped to around £0.5bn. He also states that even this level of funding would not be sufficient to address London’s annual housing need. The comments are backed up by new figures from City Hall’s Strategic Housing Market Assessment – part of the evidence base for the new London Plan, due out next month – that the capital now must build 66,000 new homes each year to meet demand and that 65% of them need to be affordable. The Mayor has already set a minimum affordable housing target of 35% on all new sites (50% on public land) and so his message is that these new figures will not be attainable without significant intervention from government. Meanwhile, the 66,000 target in the new London Plan is 17,000 more than the existing figure and this means that more than a third of London boroughs (mostly in outer London) have had their house building target at least doubled in order to make up the shortfall. For example, Ealing’s annual target for each of the next 10 years was 1,297 and is now 2,807, in Enfield it has gone from 798 to 1,876 and the biggest jump is in Merton where the target has gone up by over 200% from 411 to 1,328. Inner London is a slightly different story and both Islington and Kensington and Chelsea have had their figures reduced.
POLICE COUNTER CLOSURES
Sadiq Khan has announced plans to reduce the number of police front counters in London, with one 24/7 presence to be retained in each borough. There will be an additional daytime counter in Westminster and discussions will be taking place with the local communities surrounding Grenfell Tower regarding a new counter which will open in early 2018 for at least two years. In total 37 front counters will be closed. The proposals follow a consultation which saw 4,000 Londoners submit their views on how they access police services. In many areas MPs, councillors and residents spoke out against the plans, resulting in the decision to retain front counters at Dagenham Police Station and Bexleyheath Police Station. The resulting Public Access Strategy aims to save £8m in running costs – the equivalent of 140 police constables. The Met also aims to raise approximately £165m of capital by disposing of underused buildings; this money is to be invested in improved technology for front line officers as well as enhancing the remaining estate. With just 8% of crimes reported at police front counters in 2016, down from 22% in 2006, the Met is putting more emphasis on telephone services and online reporting. The Mayor has stated that he will be doubling the number of Dedicated Ward Officers who will be based in ‘hubs’, such as leisure centres, in the wards they patrol where they will also hold community sessions every week. Additional sessions will be provided to nine communities, including Enfield Chase, Coulsdon and Barnet town centre as these will be located over an hour from their nearest front counter..
FILMED IN DAGENHAM
A partnership between City Hall, Film London, the London Local Enterprise Panel and the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham has jointly commissioned and published a study showcasing Dagenham East as an ideal location for a new film studio. The Council is now inviting expressions of interest from investors through its regeneration company Be First and plans to launch a formal tender process in 2018. This ambitious project builds on the success of Film lbbd, the council’s film office, in attracting major film and TV productions including Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron, Doctor Strange, ITV's Liar and Netflix's Black Mirror. The project also enjoys the support of photographer and East End icon David Bailey and if successful would deliver London’s first all-new studio of such a scale in 25 years.
After several years of waiting and negotiation, shopping centre developers Westfield and Hammerson (under the joint banner the ‘Croydon Partnership’) are set to put forward revised plans for the former’s third shopping centre in the capital, which will go to a special meeting of Croydon Council’s planning committee on Tuesday 14 November. The £1.4bn redevelopment, which includes the demolition of the Whitgift Centre, was first granted permission in February 2014, however a new scheme was submitted last October, adding a further storey of leisure and retail and doubling the number of homes from 500 to 1,000.
PROTECTING LONDON’S HERITAGE
Historic England has updated its heritage at-risk register, an annual ‘health check’ of historic places. While 387 ‘rescued’ sites were removed from the register nationally over the past year, 328 have been added. In London, these include Gasholder No 2 at the Fulham gasworks, an Accumulator Tower in Limehouse Basin, St Anne’s parish church in Limehouse, and the church of St George the Martyr in Southwark. Meanwhile, the National Trust has launched Points of View, a new project seeking to address the ‘apparent disparity’ between the number of views with Protected Vista status north of the Thames (nine) versus the south (four). The Trust’s campaign includes an installation entitled ‘The Imminent Diorama’ on the grounds of the Horniman Museum showing views now and as they could be over the next 80 years, a call for artists’ contributions and suggestions from the public. All of this will ultimately inform a submission to the upcoming London Plan consultation.
LONDON’S NEW WHEELS
The Mayor of London has announced the arrival of a ‘next generation’ of Santander Bikes in the capital. The new bicycles, the first to be built in the UK (by ‘England's longest established cycle manufacturer’ Pashley Cycles) are designed to be easier to ride and maintain, and include new lighting systems by British start-up company Blaze. The cycle scheme, operated by Serco, enjoyed a record-breaking year in 2016 with 10.3m hires – 4.4% higher than in 2015. The scheme is also set to expand into Brixton this winter, with new docking stations for up to 200 bikes.
TFL GOES BIG WITH DATA
We may like to moan about tube delays and leaves on the line but Transport for London, in its tech savvy way, is increasingly attracting praise (and money) from afar. A recent article in US magazine Slate.com describes the authority’s ‘brilliant’ and inexpensive experiment tracking passenger behaviour by mapping wifi connections. The article explains how useful this data is in managing future projects and disruptions. Meanwhile, 15 years after London went contactless (the Oystercard was launched in 2003), New York City is due to follow and the company responsible for implementing the new system for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has struck a £15m deal to use TfL’s system. This week it was also reported that, though tube rider numbers are slightly down, advertising revenues are up. The first ever Annual Advertising Report reveals that there was a 20% increase in ad revenue last year, largely due to deals with major brands like Sky and Disney. Income from advertising to TfL’s customers is increasingly important following the fare freeze implemented by the Mayor last year. In other techie news, TfL is also trialling capacity monitoring on Overground trains at Shoreditch High Street, which you can in fact watch live here.
A HEALTHY ECONOMY?
Recent health-checks of London’s economy by the GLA and Centre for London indicate that while uncertainties surrounding Brexit are affecting investors and consumers alike, the capital’s economy is resilient. The GLA report considers the third quarter of the year and highlights strong employment figures, an increase in international visitors, annual output growth that is higher than the national average, as well as a moderate recovery in business confidence compared to the summer. On the downside, London’s low unemployment rate is less impressive when seen in context with fairly static wages and TfL also saw a marginal dip in Tube ridership and anaemic growth in bus journeys towards the end of the summer. Focusing on the capital’s housing market, recent months have seen the annual rate of house price inflation fall to 2.7% in London – one of the weakest performances by the capital since early 2012 – as well as low transaction levels, and sluggish rent increases. However, figures for the planning application pipeline and project completions so far in 2017 paint a healthier picture. DCLG figures cited by CfL suggest that 25,000 new homes were completed in the capital for the 12 months to June this year – the highest on record; and Home Builders Federation (HBF) figures indicate the number of units receiving detailed planning approval for the year to June increased at least 15% compared to the previous year.
THE ONGOING IMPACT OF GRENFELL
The clinical director at the Grenfell Tower NHS Mental Health Response has estimated that more than 11,000 people may be affected by either post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or physical health concerns as a result of the tragic fire. Dr John Green has described the response as ‘the biggest programme there’s ever been in Europe, certainly in terms of mental health’. To date, more than 1,300 people have been seen by Central and North West London NHS Trust for either PTSD screening or other concerns related to the tragedy. Green also added that it may be several years before the true scale of those are affected becomes clear, as it has emerged that one person involved in the 7/7 bombings had only recently sought help. A BBC investigation has also revealed that polyethylene-based cladding such as that used on Grenfell Tower has been found on at least 52 tower blocks across the capital. It is thought that the real number is likely much higher as many local authorities and housing associations have refused to release their results.
CITY AIRPORT AT 30
On 26 October, London City Airport celebrated the 30th anniversary of its first commercial flight. To mark the occasion, the airport’s management released new images illustrating what it will look like after the implementation of its City Airport Development Programme (CADP). The £400m project is privately funded and received planning permission last Summer; construction is due to start next year. The redevelopment will extend the terminal building, add new aircraft stands and a new parallel taxiway. While the CADP has been welcomed by many as an important boost to the local and national economies (the airport expects to create 2,000 jobs by 2025), as well as to the capital’s stretched air traffic capacity, environmental campaigners including Green Party London Assembly member Caroline Russell have criticised it a source of noise and atmospheric pollution.
MAYORS OF THE ROUND TABLE
London will today host the first-ever summit of England’s seven metro Mayors – representing regions which together produce 39% of the country’s economic growth (GVA). Sadiq Khan will be hosting the Mayors of Greater Manchester, West of England, Tees Valley, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Liverpool City Region and the Midlands. According to City Hall, the Mayors will jointly call on the Government to ‘significantly increase the scale and pace of devolution’. The four Conservative and three Labour politicians will more specifically request additional powers to help people into employment, as well as greater control over their tax revenues.
Former City Corporation Policy and Resources Committee chair Sir Mark Boleat has published a paper exploring solutions to the London housing problem. Boleat, who now chairs the Housing and Finance Institute, explores themes around incentivising public sector land release, simplifying and streamlining the system of planning gain and, rather contentiously, ensuring that councillors representing residents affected by a planning application are excluded from the decision on whether it should go ahead. He also looks at the politically toxic issue of building on the green belt, remarking that on closer inspection too much of it in London is not actually green, accessible or serving any useful purpose. This issue was also explored by London First back in 2015 but all politicians still seem to be highly against the idea of even considering this in any debate around delivering more homes.
LCA was pleased to be a part of the project team that helped Lazari Investments Limited secure planning permission for their site at Stephenson House, Hampstead Road. Voted through unanimously by Camden Council’s Planning Committee, the proposals from Marks Barfield Architects will see the current office building refurbished and remodelled to deliver more modern and flexible office space alongside retail and 17 new homes.
LIGHTING UP THE SKY
This weekend, two of LCA’s clients will be hosting major firework festivals filled with colour, music, entertainment and food set against two iconic backdrops of London. The Alexandra Palace Fireworks Festival will return to Alexandra Park for two nights on Friday and Saturday with its world famous fireworks display, bier festival and a fiery parade. Meanwhile, the Wembley Park fireworks (Saturday from 6pm) will take on a carnival atmosphere with a spectacular display set to a top-secret soundtrack and a dancing procession from World Beaters and AQ Arts.
LONDON ALL-PARTY PARLIAMENTARY GROUPS
LCA attended meetings of both the APPG for London's Planning and Built Environment and the APPG for London this week. The former hosted an interesting debate with James Murray, Deputy Mayor for Housing and Residential Development, around affordable housing policy and delivery as a precursor to the draft London Plan launch on 29 November. The latter held an autumn reception with Lord Adonis who spoke passionately about London as the capital of Europe (and the post Brexit threat of losing this position), the myth of less London = more Leeds or Liverpool and the need for a homebuilding revolution in the capital. We would encourage readers to support both these groups which provide a much needed focus on some key issues in the capital. Further information on the APPG for London's Planning Environment, which is organised through the London Society and NLA (contact Katherine Rankin) whilst details for the APPG for London can be accessed via London Councils.
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