SADIQ IS ALL OVER THE PLACE
In this edition of LDN, almost half our stories cover news from City Hall, spanning everything from planning to crime, transport, air quality and sport.
And we also look at a number of other major stories for London over the past week. In planning and development, we report on the first estate regeneration ballot implemented under new Mayoral guidelines, the submission of plans for an already much debated new Foster + Partners tower, and a settlement between Haringey and Lendlease over the costs of the HDV.
Meanwhile, we also delve into Newham Council’s ongoing democracy review, people moves and a new report on the present and future of regeneration public-private partnerships.
It is also worth highlighting here that the Liberal Democrats have only today announced the selection of Siobhan Benita as their candidate for the London Mayoral elections in May 2020 - expect more details in next week's edition.
As always, we’d love to hear your feedback and do follow us on Twitter @LDNComms if you don’t already.
KHAN IN PLANNING
While City Hall has remained largely quiet on its latest two call-ins (see issue 53 of LDN), it has been less reticent when it comes to other major developments in London. Casting his eye to west London, the Mayor has called for two estates forming part of Capco’s Earls Court regeneration scheme to be 'handed back entirely' to the local council. His call echoes Hammersmith & Fulham’s Labour leadership, which has been at odds with Capco since it took control of the borough in 2014. The West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates form part of a conditional land sale agreement approved by the previous Tory administration in 2013, whereby sections would pass into the hands of developer Capco as and when it provided replacement homes for those knocked down. Relevant press coverage cites the Mayor as saying he has 'serious concerns about the direction of the Earl’s Court scheme' and warning that 'the GLA would review any such plans at the point at which they were referred'. Sadiq’s team has also made sure his presence is felt in east London. Following news that developers Hammerson and Ballymore are consulting on extensively reconfigured plans for Bishopsgate Goodsyard (also covered in the last edition of LDN), City Hall has confirmed that the Mayor still intends to have the final say on the project at a Public Hearing expected to take place in 'summer 2019'.
KHAN VS CRIME
Aside from planning and housing, tackling crime remains high on Sadiq’s agenda, with several notable initiatives this week. The Mayor has released the largest round so far of cash from the Young Londoners Fund, investing £13.2m in 72 projects stretching across education, sport and culture, which aim to provide almost 42,000 young people with 'positive life opportunities'. Meanwhile, the mayor has disposed of the unused water cannons purchased by his predecessor Boris Johnson for riot control purposes. The use of the cannons, which cost over £322,000 in total, was barred by then-Home Secretary Theresa May and they have now been sold for scrap at a price of just £11,000. Sadiq said that the revenue will be diverted into the Young Londoners Fund. Meanwhile, an initiative to erect a statue of Stephen Lawrence in Trafalgar Square is gaining ground. The petition launched by Islamophobia monitoring group Tell Mama has now amassed over 76,000 signatures and director Iman Atta OBE has said that City Hall has offered to advise the group on how to achieve permission for the statue.
KHAN OFF THE RAILS?
Meanwhile, the capital’s transport troubles continue to be a thorn in Sadiq’s side. The GLA’s Budget and Performance Committee, chaired by Conservative Assembly Member Gareth Bacon, has published a report on Transport for London’s (TfL) finances. It found, inter alia, that the delay to the Crossrail project will cost TfL between £180m and £190m in 2019/2020 alone. The report also points out that TfL has not based its revenue forecasts on a future fare freeze, instead assuming that fares will rise from 2020 onwards – suggesting that the freeze may not be extended after the next Mayoral election in May that year. The Committee estimates that the fares freeze currently in effect will end up costing TfL more than £640m in lost revenue over four years. The report was released in advance of TfL’s latest Board Meeting, which took place this morning to discuss the latest set of quarterly reports as well as Crossrail (see agenda and papers here).
On the wider subject of delayed rail infrastructure projects, it has emerged that HS2’s delivery could be delayed by at least a year and that doubts about the project’s feasibility extend into the Cabinet. The Times cites several industry and government sources who say that the project is 'at risk of soaring over budget' and with ministers 'unwilling to sanction any extra cash', HS2 is currently 'locked in talks with contractors to cut costs'.
KHAN OF FRESH AIR?
One area where Sadiq appears to be making more headway is efforts to tackle air pollution. The Mayor’s latest update has marked the implementation of a total seven of his 12 promised Low Emission Bus Zones to date (the 'five new zones' referred to by the press release were actually delivered between August and November this year). The Mayor has also committed to delivering the remaining five zones somewhat ahead of schedule, by the end of 2019 rather than at an unspecified time in 2020. Only buses with the lowest emissions are permitted to operate in these zones, which when completed will extend across parts of at least 20 boroughs. City Hall has also published a report assessing the impact of the seven zones implemented thus far, finding that they have had a measurable effect on emissions. According to TfL, the estimated annual nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions from the new buses operating in the seven zones have been reduced by an average 90%. Monitoring stations in five locations of the existing Low Emissions Bus Zones found that ambient nitrogen dioxide concentrations have fallen by anywhere between 4% (at Wandsworth, St. John’s Hill) and 47% (at Putney High Street Façade).
The east London council’s directly-elected Labour Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz is pushing forward with her manifesto pledge to reform local democratic processes – an effort which could lead to the abolition of the Mayoralty itself. A press release issued on Monday announced 'the start of a conversation with residents' and unveiled early-stage plans for a Democracy and Civic Participation Commission, which will be presented at the next full Council meeting on 26 November. The Commission’s exact remit, scope of work and cost are TBC, but its core purpose is to 'feed into a review of which model of political management and council governance is best suited to local needs, including continuing to have a directly elected mayor'. Meanwhile, the relevant council papers also include a motion by Fiaz which commits the council to holding a binding referendum by May 2020 'on a change of governance from a directly-elected Mayoral model to a Leader and Cabinet model'. The relevant officers’ report seems to suggest that a referendum would more likely take place in 2021, also estimating that the cost of the Commission and referendum combined will amount to about £500k.
REGEN BALLOT No1
Last summer, the Mayor published new guidelines for estate regeneration, in which balloting affected residents was made a prerequisite for City Hall funding. Though all eyes have been focused on estate regeneration ballots planned by Labour and Liberal Democrat-led councils, the first to be implemented was by a housing association in… true-blue Barnet. On 14 November, social housing tenants of the Westhorpe Gardens and Mills Grove estates approved proposals drawn up by housing association Metropolitan Thames Valley (MTVH), which owns the sites and is leading their redevelopment. Almost 66% of 108 eligible residents took part in the vote, and nearly 75% voted in favour. Votes were cast between 15 October and 5 November by post, text, telephone, and online. The ballot was preceded by exhibitions, drop-in sessions, and door-to-door canvassing, which in turn fed into MTVH’s proposals. The housing association will submit a detailed regeneration application to the council 'in the coming months'. The two estates currently have 102 social rent homes and the proposal approved by tenants commits to reproviding all of these, as well as delivering around 150 new homes (80% of which will be for affordable rent or shared ownership and the rest will be retirement living properties for market sale). Other upcoming ballots in Lambeth, Ealing and elsewhere will be reported on in future editions of LDN.
HARINGEY AND LENDLEASE SHAKE HANDS
The north London council and Australian developer have reached a settlement, within two weeks of reports that Lendlease was launching legal action against the borough to recoup the costs of the abortive Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV) joint venture. Lendlease had warned early on that any attempt by Haringey to prematurely dissolve the partnership could lead to litigation, while for its part the council had said that it would agree to only reimburse half the money spent – which it estimated at £500,000. The settlement’s details have not been disclosed, but it is clear that borough and developer alike are keen to bury the hatchet and focus on progressing with another major collaborative project, the High Road West regeneration scheme near the new Tottenham Hotspur ground. The £1bn scheme will deliver an estimated 2,500 new homes and community facilities, through the redevelopment of existing public housing and disused land.
Architects Foster + Partners, the firm which previously brought us the Gherkin, has submitted a planning application for a 305m-high tower dubbed The Tulip to the City of London Corporation. If constructed, it will be the tallest building in the City, but will not include any office space. Designed mainly as an attraction for visitors looking for a birds-eye view of London, the tower will include a viewing platform and 'gondola pod rides'. Developer Bury Street Properties has reportedly pledged to extend free visits to 20,000 state school children. If planning permission is granted to build the Tulip, on a site only a short distance from the Gherkin, construction should start in 2020, with the aim of opening the tower in 2025.
U+I ON PFI
LCA client U+I, a specialist regeneration developer, has launched a new report exploring why Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) are increasingly being demonised and 'what, if anything, our response should be'. The report recognises that in a context of controversies surrounding public outsourcing – and especially following the collapse of Carillon and the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV) – PPPs and Private Finance Initiatives (PFIs) have come under increasing scrutiny. It goes on to make an evidence-based – and spirited – case for why PPPs remain a useful model for delivering truly transformative regeneration projects. The report points to success stories such as London’s Kings Cross development and Liverpool’s Anfield development, but also drills down into the model’s challenges and weak points. It calls for action by all parties involved in PPPs to engage early and effectively with communities, exhibit real transparency and implement effective oversight mechanisms. The report also lays out how U+I itself is prepared to walk the walk, with the developer committing to establishing mechanisms for monitoring its performance in PPP schemes; sharing profits above projected returns on major projects with partners and local communities; and disbursing funding to help community organisations and representatives meaningfully engage with the planning process.
PEOPLE MOVES – BREXIT EDITION
- Stephen Barclay MP has been appointed Brexit Secretary in the wake of Dominic Raab’s resignation last week. He has been the MP for North East Cambridgeshire since 2010 and previously served as a Government Whip from 2016 to 2017. A Leave supporter, he has never rebelled against the government.
- Former Home Secretary Amber Rudd MP, who resigned over the Windrush scandal in April, returns to the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions following the resignation of Esther McVey.
- Wimbledon MP and former Conservative Party Vice Chair for London Stephen Hammond has been appointed Minister of State in the Department of Health and Social Care.
- At local government level, it has been announced that Nick Collier, head of government relations at Refinitiv, has been appointed as Managing Director of the City of London Corporation’s Brussels office, where he will 'be responsible for the City’s European engagement both before and after Brexit'.
- Away from Brexit, but closer to home, London City Airport has appointed Rob Holden as its Chairman. Holden previously held top posts at LCR, HS1 and Crossrail and was awarded a CBE in 2009 for the successful delivery of HS1.
LONDON STADIUM THAW
West Ham and London Stadium owners the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) - the latter represented by E20 LLP - have reached a seminal agreement to increase the number of seats available for the football club’s home games. While the number was previously capped at 57,000 seats, the new deal will raise the limit to 60,000, with the eventual aim of reaching 66,000. This positive development is the latest sign that the icy relationship between the football club and their landlords is thawing. In a rare joint statement, LLDC Chief Executive Lyn Garner and West Ham Vice-Chair Karren Brady said that the two organisations 'will now work together to maximise this magnificent Stadium for the benefit of the fans, our community and the public purse'. The resolution of this issue speaks volumes about the improvement of relations between the LLDC and West Ham since Garner took office this January and is hopefully a sign that the long-running conflict between the club can be resolved.
QUIZING LONDON COUNCILS
LCA Chair Robert Gordon Clark and LSE Professor Tony Travers held their tenth annual live presentation on politics in the capital at the London Councils Annual Summit this past Saturday. To celebrate the occasion – and spice things up a little – Robert and Tony’s presentation included fifteen quiz questions testing councillors’ knowledge on the last local elections’ results. The presentation was well-attended, with nearly 200 councillors packed into the Guildhall in the City of London along with at least seven borough Leaders and directly-elected Mayors present – from Southwark’s Peter John, to Barnet’s Richard Cornelius, Ealing’s Julian Bell, Mayor of Hackney Phil Glanville and of course the host, the City of London Corporation’s Catherine McGuinness. Following the quiz, Robert and Tony held a Q&A, where the discussion covered the local government funding review, the chances of a snap general election or second referendum and of course the big issues in play for London in the leadup to the 2020 Mayoral elections.
The subject of Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) took centre stage at the West London Autumn Property Lunch, hosted by the West London Business Alliance. Presentations from Mace, ilke Homes and Biohom demonstrated how off-site manufacturing and advances in technology can produce well-designed, energy efficient homes that are built faster and more cost effectively than those using traditional methods. A panel, chaired by LCA Director Anna Whitton, discussed innovations including combining nature-inspired design with technology to create bio-based building materials and how these are enabling a step-change in manufacturing methods to create a healthier and more sustainable future. With such advances in the pipeline, MMC will be one to watch as the industry continues to grapple with the challenge of delivering the much-needed homes the UK needs.
FUTURE OF LONDON WORKSPACE FOR ALL
LCA attended Future of London’s (FoL) Workspace for All event at Hackney House, which was aptly timed to coincide with Global Entrepreneurship Week 2018. The conference focused on the crucial role of ‘flexible spaces’ – such as co-working offices and incubators – in supporting new small and medium enterprises (SMEs). At the event, landlords, developers, planners and policymakers came together to discuss how they can collaborate to grow the supply of such spaces and better cater for the SMEs which form the backbone of the city’s economy – representing 99.8% of the capital’s businesses and providing an estimated 50% of its jobs. Some local authorities are already incorporating affordable workspace provision in planning conditions and we heard at the event that Islington Council alone has, to date, secured 4,000 sqm of affordable office and workspace from commercial developments.
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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.
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