Two weeks before the General Election, campaigning was paused as London suffered another terror attack in which two young people sadly lost their lives.
After a day’s pause, campaigning has continued and many of the latest polls show a slight narrowing of the gap between the two main parties. Meanwhile, the London-versus-the-rest-of-the-UK rhetoric that has been a rising trend over the last few years seems to be entrenched in various manifestos, both explicitly and implicitly, which is perhaps why a cross-party coalition of politicians and business leaders have felt the need to rally support for Crossrail 2.
But it’s not all politics in LDN this week. For those looking for stocking-fillers, how about a face-mask for the Tube commuter in your life? Or if your budget stretches a little further, Chelsea F.C. could do with a new Stadium…
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LONDON BRIDGE ATTACK
LDN readers will be aware that two young people, Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt, lost their lives as a result of an horrific terrorist attack in the London Bridge area last Friday. Several others were injured. The perpetrator was initially confronted and isolated by members of the public and a British Transport Police officer. He was ultimately shot and killed by armed officers of the Metropolitan Police Service and City of London Police. The attack began inside Fishmongers’ Hall, where the terrorist – who had previously been convicted for terror-related offences – was attending an event as part of the University of Cambridge’s ‘Learning Together’ rehabilitation programme. This was the eighth major terror-related incident to occur in London over the past decade, though over half of these occurred over the course of 2017. The Mayor has spoken for all Londoners in saying the city will ‘never be cowed or intimidated by terrorism’, with first-hand accounts of the event underscoring that only the selfless actions of bystanders, as well as the police, prevented more deaths.
Anyone with information that they believe may assist with the security services’ ongoing investigation should contact detectives in confidence, on 0800 789 321 or alternatively, call Crimestoppers, which is completely anonymous, on 0800 555 111.
POLLUTION ON THE UNDERGROUND
Research carried out by King’s College London has shown that, on average, levels of pollution (more specifically, levels of PM 2.5 particles) are higher on the Tube than on London’s streets. PM 2.5 particles have been linked to conditions including cardiovascular diseases and the findings of this study have led to calls for more research to be done specifically on the health impacts of pollution on the Tube network. The most affected lines are those which are deeper underground, and which therefore present the greatest challenge for ventilation systems. The Victoria line is the worst overall and the most polluted stations are Waterloo, London Bridge and Oxford Circus. The level of pollution recorded on the Underground is also worse than the levels recorded on equivalent transport systems in other cities, including New York, Beijing and Barcelona. You may find the study and an interactive map of its findings here.
NINE ELMS LATEST
Two major planning applications in the wider Nine Elms regeneration area have been approved recently. South Bank Colleges have secured consent for a hybrid application to redevelop and more than double the useable floorspace of the existing Lambeth College Vauxhall Centre campus. The scheme includes 272 student bedrooms and a new science technology engineering arts and mathematics (STEAM) centre, supported by a £22m grant from the London Enterprise Panel (LEP), which is chaired by the Mayor of London. These plans had proven contentious, mainly due to their height (a 26-storey tower was revised down to 20 storeys) and were approved in a close vote of three in favour and two against at Lambeth Council’s planning committee. Meanwhile, Ballymore has secured planning permission from Wandsworth Council for a new block nearby. EG:HQ, a 13 storey building, will provide more than 200,000 sq ft of office space and 5,000 sq ft of retail and restaurant space. The site is adjacent to the US Embassy building and the Embassy Gardens estate, which is being developed by a partnership between Ballymore and EcoWorld.
LONDON POLLING LATEST
The latest tranche of YouGov voting intention polling for the London region, commissioned by Queen Mary University of London’s Mile End Institute, again shows Labour decisively ahead in the capital. Jeremy Corbyn’s party leads with 47%, up from 39% in the November poll but still lagging behind Labour’s historic 54% London vote share in the last General Election. The Tories remain a distant second place at 30%, though they have clawed back one point since the last poll. All of the smaller parties have taken a tumble, with the Lib Dems sliding four points to 15% the Greens down one to 4% and the Brexit Party to 3% from 6%. According to the relevant Evening Standard exclusive, ‘on a uniform swing, the findings imply that the Conservatives could take Battersea and Kensington from Labour, while Lib Dems would topple Tory minister Zac Goldsmith at Richmond Park.’ That said, Queen Mary University’s Professor Philip Cowley warns that we are now ‘at a position in the polls where any seat changes are likely to be minimal, and the result of specific local factors rather than any London-wide swings’.
The apparent swing in favour of Labour in London seems to echo similar – albeit much fainter – stirrings in favour of the Opposition across the country: as the election draws closer, an increasing number of national voting intention polls is putting the difference between the Conservatives and Labour at below 10%.
LABOUR'S MANIFESTO FOR LONDON
Last Friday, Labour launched a number of ‘regional manifestos’ – covering pledges for England’s nine regions, including London. The headline commitments of all are actually fairly similar, promising each region a share of new investment from Labour’s Green Transformation Fund, better access to full-fibre broadband for homes and businesses, more new social rent homes, and more ‘green jobs’. Workers aged 16 and over in all regions except London are also offered an ‘immediate pay rise.’ As for the finer print of Labour’s regional manifesto for London, Sadiq got to sign the document’s second foreword. The London Manifesto then goes on to defend his record as Mayor, contending that he ‘could do so much more with a Labour Government to help deliver real change for London.’ Aside from frequent nods to his policies to date and broad-stroke references to the national Labour manifesto, we didn’t see much in it that was new or unusual.
PARTY MANIFESTOS - AND THE MANIFESTO PARTY
Meanwhile, with just eight days to go until the election, organisations are busy reacting to the newly published party manifestos and clarifying their own positions with regard to whatever comes next:
- The British Property Federation (BPF) launched a list of proposals last week, covering everything from backing more social and retirement homes to annual business rates revaluations.
- The National Housing Federation (NHF) has commented separately – but equally diplomatically – on the Conservative and Labour manifestos.
- The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has laid out a series of proposals, focusing on the climate emergency, the housing crisis and building safety.
- London First’s Chief Executive Jasmine Whitbread commented on the Party Manifestos the week before last – diplomatically overall, but with some sharp barbs aimed at all sides.
- The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has written to candidates across London’s 73 constituencies setting out its members’ priorities - starting with ‘fixing the housing crisis’.
- The Centre for London’s Director Ben Rogers has argued that the capital ‘deserves better from the manifestos’.
DON'T FORGET THE OTHER CROSSRAIL
Meanwhile, dozens of London politicians from across the political spectrum have teamed up with business leaders to co-sign an open letter published in the Standard, urging the next Government to prioritise the delivery of Crossrail 2. The letter points to the need for a solution to end the overcrowding experienced by many Londoners, commuters and visitors on the city’s public transport system, while also highlighting that the delivery of Crossrail 2 would help unlock tens of thousands of new homes and jobs. Signatories include Prospective Parliamentary Candidates, London Assembly Members and Councillors from the Conservatives, Brexit Party, Labour and Liberal Democrats, as well as representatives of businesses including Grosvenor, the New West End Company and The Berkeley Group.
ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL
Aside from a brief hiatus in campaigning following the London Bridge attack, campaigners from all parties have been out in force in the capital over these crucial final weeks before the election. LCA came across Sadiq Khan addressing a ‘massive contingent’ of Labour supporters on Tuesday evening, perched atop a soapbox outside Wandsworth Town station. Meanwhile, actor Hugh Grant has been out supporting Liberal Democrat candidates in Westminster, as well as Finchley and Golders Green. Conservative Mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey was also seen canvassing in Tory-held constituencies both north and south of the Thames over the weekend.
HEATHROW ON NOTICE?
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has inserted a new clause into Heathrow Airport Limited’s licence in an attempt to ensure that the airport’s expansion costs do not spiral out of control. Relevant media reports do not explain precisely how this would work but suggest that Heathrow Airport Limited would be ‘fined’ if the project does end up over budget. According to the project’s own website, the Heathrow expansion is expected to cost approximately £14bn and the move by the CAA is presumably meant to reassure those most concerned about any increases to the budget - which is to say the airlines, who worry that they will be called upon to shoulder the burden through their airport fees.
THE FUTURE OF STAMFORD BRIDGE
Three years after the proposals were greenlit by Hammersmith & Fulham Council, no progress has been made on plans to demolish and replace Chelsea F.C.’s Stamford Bridge home with a new 60,000 capacity stadium. The plans were paused in May last year, due to an ‘unfavourable investment climate’, and there is now less than four months until the permission expires.
(MORE) ELMSTREE STUDIOS
In the never-ending saga to try to deliver more film studio space for the capital, Sky has released its proposals to construct a new TV and film studio in Elstree, a move which it hopes will make it more competitive against Netflix and Amazon. The studios, which would be located just a mile from the famous Elstree Studios, will sit across 13 hectares and provide 14 filming stages, creating an estimated 2,000 new jobs. Legal & General, the owner of the site, has agreed to fund the development, which will then be rented out to Sky. A planning application is expected to be submitted to Hertsmere Borough Council in 2020, with the aim of having the studios open in 2022.
GREEN LIGHT FOR 8 ALBERT EMBANKMENT
We are delighted that Lambeth Council’s Planning Applications Committee approved U+I and the London Fire Brigade’s proposals for 8 Albert Embankment on Tuesday night. Designed by Pilbrow and Partners, the scheme will create a new mixed-use community at the iconic site on the Thames, with 443 new homes (including 40% affordable), new workspaces supporting over 1,250 jobs, a new modern fire station as well as a permanent home for the London Fire Brigade Museum. LCA has supported the project for over three years and we are pleased to have helped U+I secure planning permission for a project which will offer significant benefits to the local community.
As you read this the final touches are being made to The Gingerbread City 2019. London’s finest edible architectural show is taking place at Somerset House and opens to the public this weekend! London’s best architects and engineers are furiously fixing biscuits, cakes and sweets to make a magical city around the theme of ‘Transport’. Buttersea Power Station, Meringue Marina and the Jelly Ferry Terminal have been painstakingly planned, 3D printed and even laser cut and are now ready to explore! This year LCA is sponsoring the show and helping the Museum of Architecture with communications because we share their desire to connect the public with architecture in an exciting way and spark important conversations about cities and how we live in them. The exhibition will include a series of daily family-friendly gingerbread house-making workshops and a shop. It runs between 7th December and 5th January. Find out more here.
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