Theresa May’s administration has suffered an almighty blow in Parliament and is bracing for a vote of no confidence later this evening. All bar eight of the capital’s 73 MPs voted to reject the Prime Minister’s deal, including 13 of the capital’s 21 Tories; Remainers such as former misters Jo Johnson and Justine Greening joined arch-Leavers including Zac Goldsmith and Theresa Villiers to condemn the Government to a huge defeat.
Meanwhile, this edition covers the London Plan’s Examination in Public as it enters its first week of hearings – a crucial milestone on its path to adoption towards the last quarter of the year. We also take a look at several other major planning and development stories in the capital as well as people moves, the 2020 London Elections, property law, culture, and the environment.
And that’s not all! We further provide a sneak peek at an exciting week for LCA’s growing team, in a bumper edition which reminds us that the capital remains as busy as ever.
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EIP HEARINGS UNDERWAY
The draft new London Plan’s Examination in Public (EiP) hearings phase began in earnest on Tuesday. There will be 50 sessions held in total over 11 weeks, concluding on Friday 17 May. At the hearings – which are open to the public – Examiners receive representations on behalf of the Mayor (mostly by GLA officers and on occasion the relevant Deputy Mayors), as well as other stakeholders from across sectors. This first week focuses on high-level matters such as the Plan’s impact on environmental sustainability and social equality (discussed yesterday), the Mayor’s consultation and engagement with affected stakeholders (discussed this morning) and finally, the ‘Good Growth ‘ principles underpinning the Plan (discussed earlier this afternoon). Next week’s sessions will begin to hone in on more specific policies, such as the Plan’s ‘overall spatial development strategy’ and its approach to Opportunity Areas. Following the hearings and sometime during the summer, the Examiners will publish their report, after which the Mayor can publish his final Plan. Sadiq may in theory ignore Examiners’ recommendations for amendments, but he must explain his reasoning to the Communities Secretary, who does have the power to direct changes – indeed, James Brokenshire has already argued that elements of the draft Plan are not in line with national policies.
GLA PLANNING LATEST
On 21 December and 2 January, Sadiq quietly published his and TfL’s comments on new or revised Local Plans being mooted by Westminster, Brent and Lambeth – as well as a number of other local planning policies these three councils have been consulting on in recent months. The Mayor’s responses focus on whether these are in line with the current and draft new London Plan and suggest that City Hall and Town Halls are not fully aligned on many points.
- On Brent’s revised Local Plan, Sadiq recognises the council’s ‘reluctance to implement its small housing target' but insists that it is achievable and should be better reflected in its policies. Similarly, he urges Brent to raise its Local Plan’s overall housing delivery target, which commits to 23,711 homes between 2019 and 2029 and thus falls short of its new London Plan housing target for that period, by 5,439 homes. The Mayor also asserts that the local plan ‘should adopt a more proactive approach’ to implementing London Plan policies relating to industrial land.
- On Lambeth’s ‘partial review‘ of its existing Local Plan, Sadiq welcomes its close alignment with the new London Plan in most aspects of its housing requirement assessment and delivery targets. But he also expresses a number of disagreements on the designation of – and policies for – town centres and Metropolitan Centres. The Mayor also recommends amendments to Lambeth’s proposed policies on small sites and shared ownership.
- On the new Westminster Draft City Plan 2019-2040, the Mayor calls for ‘more ambition’ in some areas, such as the Opportunity Areas of Tottenham Court and Paddington. He also takes a stab at the council’s parking policies and of course its Oxford Street transformation plans. But Khan does cautiously welcome the council’s commitment to delivering 1,495 homes a year (above the 1,010 homes in its new London Plan target), as well as its requirement that affordable housing be provided on-site.
CITY OF LONDON LATEST
- Images illustrating what the Square Mile skyline will look like in 2026 have been published by the Corporation. These show seven new tall buildings whose construction is currently underway, as well as a further six which have been granted planning permission.
- Plans for Norman Foster’s proposed ‘Tulip’ tower in the City have faced opposition from a number of conservation bodies, but a ComRes poll suggests it enjoys significant public support. The poll found that 65% of respondents believed that the skyscraper would be ‘an attractive addition to the London skyline’.
- The Corporation’s draft City Plan is currently out for consultation, until 28 February, but its Transport Strategy’s final round of consultation ended on 13 January.
- Spelthorne Borough Council, in Surrey, is buying 100 Cheapside in the City, as well as a development in Battersea next to the US Embassy. According to relevant reports, the local authority is in the process of finalising the purchase of the two office blocks, at a total cost of £1bn.
Lib Peck, the Labour leader of Lambeth Council, has announced that she will be standing down in order to take on the role of Director of City Hall’s new Violence Reduction Unit (VRU). No dates have yet been announced for her standing down, for her seat’s by-election, or for her replacement – though we expect the last to be decided by councillors at a meeting of Lambeth Council in early February. Conservative Assembly Member Steve O’Connell, as Chairman of the Police and Crime Committee, has welcomed the appointment. But his fellow Conservative AMs Gareth Bacon, Susan Hall and Keith Prince, as well as Liberal Democrat AM Caroline Pidgeon, have criticised the appointment as partisan. Interestingly, Conservative Mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey has not commented on the appointment at the time of writing. Peck, who is also currently London Councils’ Deputy Chair and Executive Member for Crime and Public Protection, has been appointed at a challenging time for policing in London – only this week, it was reported that the Met Police’s homicide and major crime command (HMCC) has seen staff numbers decrease by 26% since 2008.
Meanwhile, Peck’s resignation follows that of Thorton ward councillor and Labour Chief Whip Jane Edbrooke last December. It is understood Edbrooke stepped down after taking up a ‘politically restricted’ day job. The by-election for her seat is set to take place on 7 February. Also on Lambeth Council, we can confirm this week that Sue Foster, Lambeth’s Strategic Director of Neighbourhoods and Growth, has left after nine years at the Council.
- Islington Council will seek to extend its exemption of permitted development rights in its Central Activities Zone (CAZ), which expires in May. Permitted development rights allow office buildings to be converted into homes without the need for planning permission – a policy which Islington Council argues could have resulted in the loss of ‘nationally significant office accommodation’ in the CAZ. The Council will make a decision on the extension, which will need to be made through an Article 4 direction, at a meeting of the Executive on 17 January.
- AECOM, alongside Penoyre & Prasad and White Arkitekter, have been appointed to design the new Moorfields Eye Hospital in St Pancras in Camden, which would see the hospital leave Islington. As part of the plans, the current St Pancras Hospital is set to be demolished to allow the construction of a new facility to accommodate Moorfields’ medical, research and educational services. Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, in partnership with UCL and Moorfields Eye Charity, hope to
- London First has appointed Dame Inga Beale, the former chief executive of Lloyd’s of London, to its board.
- Dipesh Shah has announced his decision to step down as Chair of the Notting Hill Genesis housing association. His replacement has not been named.
- Meanwhile, it has been announced that the Chief Operating Officer of Catalyst Rachael Dennis is to leave the housing association later this year to join housebuilder Taylor Wimpey as a regional Managing Director.
- Also in the housing association sector, it has been announced that GLA Assistant Housing Director Jamie Ratcliff will be leaving City Hall to join Network Homes as Executive Director of Business Performance and Partnerships, in April.
- In the world of architecture and planning, HOK has announced a number of changes. Design Principal Larry Malcic will be retiring 30 years after setting up the company’s London studio. John Rhodes and David Weatherhead have been named as the studio’s new Design Principals, while Farrah Hassan-Hardwick has been appointed Marketing Principal.
- Finally, in London’s health sector, Baroness Neuberger has been appointed University College London Hospitals Foundation Trust’s new Chair. She will take up her post in February, succeeding Lord Prior, who left last year to chair NHS England.
2020 LONDON ELECTIONS: BLUE TEAM AND RED TEAM
The two largest parties on the London Assembly have selected their Mayoral candidates for the 2020 London elections and both have begun campaigning – but neither has finalised its of candidate lists (Londonwide and Constituency) for the Assembly elections, which will be held at the same time as the mayoral poll. So where do we currently stand?
- Sadiq’s candidacy for Labour was confirmed in September and, as reported in last week’s LDN, he has already been seen on the campaign trail. But the timelines for the party’s Assembly candidate selection process remain obscure and speculation is rife as to whether the regional party will raise the threshold of local party support needed for incumbents to be reselected. We understand that at least three long-serving Labour incumbents will be standing down – of which Andrew Dismore and Jennette Arnold have publicly confirmed their decisions – whilst other veteran GLA Labour Group ‘moderates’ are expected to fight for their re-selection.
- The Conservative campaign led by Mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey, who was provided a launchpad by the party at last October’s Party Conference, is comparatively muted. Bailey has recently been spied at CCHQ talking about his campaign plans, but little is known about these beyond party circles. Indeed, the GLA Conservatives’ disjointed response to issues such as Lib Peck’s appointment (as noted above) suggests that their campaign remains in its infancy and the Assembly candidate selection process is still in the air (though we’ve heard a couple of incumbents are considering stepping down).
2020 LONDON ELECTIONS: THE YELLOW, THE GREEN AND THE PURPLE
What of the other parties on the London Assembly?
- The Liberal Democrats confirmed the selection of Siobhan Benita at their London Regional Conference back in November, and a list of 14 Londonwide candidates. The latter is led by incumbent (and 2016 Mayoral candidate) Caroline Pidgeon, followed in second and third place by Merton Councillor Hina Bokhari and Lucy Salek, who stood as the party’s candidate in last year’s Lewisham East parliamentary by-election.
- The Greens opened their nominations process for both Mayoral and Assembly list candidates before Christmas and only this Monday published their list of all nominees. Voting is now underway and we are expecting the results in about a month’s time. Incumbent AMs Sian Berry and Caroline Russell have been nominated for Assembly list candidacies, while Berry is also competing for the Mayoral ballot against Peter Underwood, Shahrar Ali, and Zack Polanski.
- As for UKIP, the party has revealed little about its campaign – and its abysmal performance in May’s local elections suggests that it will, in any event, be up against it next year. AM Peter Whittle resigned from the party last December and now sits alongside UKIP loyalist David Kurten in the Assembly Chamber under the banner of the Brexit Alliance Group (BAG). Last summer, former UKIP leader Nigel Farage briefly set the rumour mill spinning when he suggested he was considering running for Mayor.
CANARY WHARF GROUP VS EUROPEAN MEDICINES AGENCY
A crucial legal battle between the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and developers Canary Wharf Group (CWG) is set for a court hearing this week. With Brexit in sight, the EU regulatory body is moving to Amsterdam and has been trying to wriggle its way out of a 25-year office lease it signed in 2011 with CWG. There is much more than the eye-watering £500m value of the remaining lease riding on the case, as the EMA is arguing that Britain’s decision to leave the EU represents an unforeseen event which fundamentally impairs the performance of its contract. The Times sums up the implications of this quite nicely: ‘Lawyers and landlords fear a ruling in favour of the medicines agency could set a precedent for any UK-based business with significant operations located in the European Union to argue Brexit frustrates existing contracts.' The good news is that, again according to the Times, ‘no one has successfully argued that a tenant should be able to terminate their lease early’ on such a basis. Indeed, the EMA freely agreed the lease with no break clauses and is, apparently, able to sub-let the space if it so wishes.
WALTHAM FOREST IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Over the weekend, a number of events marked Waltham Forest becoming London’s inaugural Borough of Culture. ‘Welcome to the Forest’ kicked off the celebrations, with light installations and a winter carnival, which the Mayor attended on Friday evening. The borough has been awarded a grant of £1.35m (£1.1m of which is from City Hall) to enable a programme of diverse cultural activities, the launch of which was unfortunately marred by the murder of 14-year-old boy Jaden Moodie in the borough only a few days earlier. Some, such as Former Met Police superintendent Leroy Logan, have questioned the amount spent on the London Borough of Culture programme, arguing that the money could have been better spent on ‘tackling gang culture’. But Waltham Forest Council has – quite rightly in our opinion – responded that one of the initiative’s stated aims is to bring the local community together and provide young people with opportunities to take part in fun and educational activities. The council has also underlined that its inaugural events have paid tribute to Jaden and reflect the local community’s struggle with knife crime and its consequences.
LONDON AIR QUALITY
The government this week published its Clean Air Strategy which involves the granting of greater powers to local authorities to enable them to do more in countering air pollution. This follows the launch of City Hall’s preparations for the rollout of its Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in April, and London Boroughs are themselves introducing their own initiatives to address the problem. One example of the latter is Hackney, whose ultra-low emissions streets (ULEV streets) initiative – which restricts the use of certain streets to walking, cycling and low emission vehicles only at peak times – was featured in the Guardian last week. Meanwhile, a report by the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP) last week warned Transport for London (TfL) that the concentration of particulate pollution in tube stations can be up to 30 times higher than on busy surface roads in the capital. The very real impact of air pollution can have was highlighted last week, after it was reported that the family of Ella Kissi-Debrah, a nine-year-old girl who died from asthma in 2013, has been given permission to apply for a fresh inquest into her death. Attorney General Geoffrey Cox agreed to the new inquest after he heard new evidence that Ella’s death could be linked to unlawful levels of air pollution.
Following the publication of the government’s social housing green paper in August 2018, housing and homelessness charity Shelter has published a report on the future of social housing. It was prepared by Shelter’s Social Housing Commission, which was convened in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy with Reverend Dr Mike Long (the Minister of Notting Hill Methodist Church) as its Chair. It highlights the need for a ‘decisive and generational shift in housing policy’ and urges the government to invest in social housing ‘that meets both needs and aspirations’. The report declares that ‘the biggest problem with social housing is that there simply isn’t enough of it’ and identifies a need for an additional 3.1 million social homes over 20 years. The report also makes a number of policy recommendations, touching on everything from Right to Buy to modern methods of construction. One of these recommendations argues that ‘residents must have a leading voice in major works to existing homes or neighbourhoods’ and that ‘the government’s good practice guidance on estate regeneration should be revised to reflect this’ – residents’ ballots are mentioned as one among several potentially useful tools in this regard.
MEANWHILE, AT MERIDIAN WATER
LCA client Enfield Council is now looking for partners to take over two sites for meanwhile use, as development across the £6bn Meridian Water regeneration scheme continues to gain momentum. The Teardrop and Stonehill sites will deliver new meanwhile spaces for potential tenants and occupiers, creating new jobs and opportunities for local people on a scale which will transform the employment base of the Borough. This follows the recent announcement that the annual music festival Field Day is moving to Meridian Water this Summer, occupying four large warehouses across a ten-acre outdoor space. For further details on this opportunity, please visit www.stonehillsite.co.uk and www.teardropsite.co.uk.
LCA IS RECRUITING!
The LCA team is growing and we are recruiting for two brand new roles – a Junior Graphic Designer and a Finance Assistant. Find out more here.
On that note, you may or may not know that LCA employs an in-house design team. For more information on their services, click on the graphic below!
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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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