'There’s little better than a sunny day in the capital and in an effort to make the most of it we have kept this edition short and sweet. Like all the best sweet treats though it’s also densely packed.
For starters there’s lots of excited chatter on the latest boundary review proposals – nothing like maps and electoral maths to get Twitter buzzing (or at least my Twitter echo chamber…). We’ve also got the latest on TfL and some eyebrow-raising planning stories.
Looking ahead, we are a little relieved that we will have a full week to digest the latest on the planning reform bill (we expect a paper out tonight) and, speaking of things to look forward to, there’s also the G7 and that other significant international tête-à-tête, Euro 2021 on the horizon.
All of which should be enough of a distraction from the impending announcement of what might or might not happen on 21 June. We’ll see you next week for more on all of the above!'
LCA Board Director and LDN Editor Jenna Goldberg
Christmas came early for political anoraks yesterday when the Boundary Commission for England (BCE) published its initial proposals for the 2023 Boundary Review of parliamentary constituencies. The proposals, now subject to an eight-week consultation, aim to ensure that every constituency in England has an electorate that is ‘no smaller than 69,724 and no larger than 77,062’. These initial proposals would take the number of London constituencies up by two to 75, with a new constituency in East London and another in the South. Only two of the current 73 constituencies would be ‘wholly unchanged’, with the rest undergoing ‘significant change’. Have a look for yourself on the BCE’s interactive map. It is worth reiterating that these are merely the BCE’s first proposals. Following this consultation, the BCE will publish feedback and carry out another consultation in early 2022, before publishing revised proposals (and carrying out yet another consultation) in autumn 2022. The BCE must submit its final report and recommendation to the Speaker of the House of Commons by 1 July 2023. Early analysis from some commentators suggest that if these changes were implemented then the Tories might benefit from around 10 more ‘safe’ seats nationally.
- Barnet Council has rejected proposals for the redevelopment of the Douglas Bader Park Estate, against the recommendation of officers and despite 75% of the estate’s residents having voted in favour of the plans in a ballot, which would have seen the existing 271 homes demolished and 753 new homes, 40% of which would have been affordable, delivered on the site. According to reports, councillors rejected the plans due to the design of the scheme and a perception that it would not deliver enough social housing.
- The latest in the long-running planning saga, Native Land and Transport for London (TfL) withdrew their plans for the redevelopment of South Kensington tube station for consideration at RBKC’s 3 June planning committee, so that ‘further amendments to the designs could be made’. The planning application is still live and is expected to go back to committee after a further period of consultation. The proposals include improvements to the station as well as 50 new homes, commercial space and workspace.
- The Court of Appeal has dismissed a legal challenge brought by the 35% Campaign against the granting of planning permission for the redevelopment of the Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre in Southwark.
- Hackney Council has approved plans for a 21-storey office building in Shoreditch, despite opposition from local groups including the Shoreditch Conservation Area Advisory Committee.
- Westminster City Council has granted permission for Grosvenor’s Cundy Street Quarter development which will see 163 homes (88 of which will be affordable) and senior living housing delivered on the site, as well as community, retail and leisure space.
- In response to a question submitted by Green London Assembly Member Sian Berry, the Mayor has revealed that the GLA is in the process of putting together ‘an enhanced engagement strategy for planning which will include guidance for developers on how they should engage with the community on called in applications’.
- Keep an eye out for a report on The Future of the Planning System set to be published by the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee tomorrow.
- The Mayor of London has said that TfL may have to reduce Tube and bus services as part of its task of finding £900m of savings per year, one of the requirements of the latest funding agreement with Government. Khan has called this ‘counterproductive’ and warned that cuts may lead to a ‘car led recovery’. Meanwhile, the RMT union has threatened industrial action over the Government’s requirement that TfL ‘review’ its pension scheme and freeze pay as part of the funding deal.
- Hopefully fare revenue will help a bit as slowly but surely, Londoners are starting to return to public transport as restrictions ease. The Waterloo and City Line reopened on 7 June, two weeks ahead of schedule due to an increase in the number of people using the Tube. The line closed on 20 March 2020, days before the UK went into lockdown.
- London’s e-scooter trial launched on 7 June, though the City of London has postponed its involvement until early July for ‘administrative reasons’.
- At the weekend, 600 people, including Mayor of Newham Rokshana Fiaz and Green and Conservative London Assembly Members, marched from Newham to Greenwich to protest the construction of the Silvertown Tunnel. Opponents are concerned about its impact on air quality in the area and would like to see the £2.2bn project cancelled.
A SUMMER OF SPORT
Following a year’s delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Euros are set to kick off later this week, with the first match taking place on 11 June. The UEFA Euro 2020 Trophy arrived at King’s Cross on 4 June before continuing its journey to Wembley Stadium, where a total of eight matches will be played, including the semi-finals and final. England’s first match will take place on 13 June. BBC Sport has reported that vaccine passports will be used for those attending matches at Wembley. With uncertainty remaining around the easing of restrictions on 21 June, the organisers of Wimbledon, which starts on 28 June, are reportedly waiting to hear whether they too will be part of the vaccine passport system. This will also certainly affect the cricket matches taking place later this summer at Lord’s, with England playing Pakistan on 10 July and India from 12 to 16 August. Looking further ahead, from 2022, the London Marathon is set to be known as the TCS London Marathon, as Tata Consultancy Services takes over as the event’s headline sponsor. This year, the event will be held on 3 October, with 50,000 runners participating in person along the usual route and a further 50,000 joining in virtually.
Geeta Nanda OBE, Chief Executive of Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing, has been announced as the new Chair of the G15 group.
Lib Dem Camden Cllr Flick Rea has announced that she will be standing down after 35 years as a councillor. A by-election will be held on 22 July.
Lord Gary Porter has been appointed as a new non-executive director on the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government Departmental Board.
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