KHAN HE DO IT?
It’s been a busy week for the Greater London Authority (GLA), as the London Plan’s Examination in Public (EiP) gathers steam and the Mayor has made a number of significant planning decisions.
Meanwhile, in the last few hours, the Mayor has launched his campaign for a ‘London Model’ of renting in the private sector. But it’s not just about City Hall for us! We also take a look at planning and development stories in Kensington & Chelsea, Lambeth, Westminster and elsewhere, as well as people moves across sectors.
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Sadiq has today announced that he will develop a ‘new blueprint for stabilising or controlling private rents in the capital’ – and the Guardian’s remarkably prompt report on the matter suggests that this will be ‘the key plank of his 2020 re-election bid’. He will lobby the government to award him the powers he needs to drive through this and other reforms. The Mayor has long promised to pursue a rehaul of existing regulations and hinted that he would seek such powers. We will unpick the details of his pledge in next week’s edition. Last week, the Mayor also launched a new fund to support the delivery of community-led housing. While the pot of funding and its impact on housing delivery are relatively small – the £38m facility is ‘expected to unlock 500 community-led homes by 2023’ – such efforts are crucial to diversifying the sources of London’s housing supply, as well as building the capacity of small housebuilders.
LONDON PLAN EiP
This is Week 2 of the new London Plan’s EiP and the process is beginning to address the nuts-and-bolts of the Mayor’s policies.
- Yesterday’s session focused on the Plan’s ‘spatial development strategy’.
- Today’s morning session addressed Opportunity Areas, while an afternoon session covered whether the draft London Plan provides a good framework for regeneration areas in local and neighbourhood plans.
- Finally, Friday’s scheduled hearing will consider ‘How, if at all, should the Plan address the matter of development and growth in the wider South East?’
Next week it’s all housing, with three sessions set to discuss the new London Plan’s relevant requirements, the Mayor’s housing strategy, as well as the housing delivery targets and assumptions about housing supply.
But the EiP is far from the only interesting planning news emanating from City Hall in the past week:
- Sadiq and GLA planning officers have in the first instance sided with heritage groups on the issue of Foster + Partners’ proposed 305.5m meter ‘Tulip’ tower in the City. The Mayor’s initial representation asserts that the application as it currently stands ‘does not fully comply with the London Plan and the draft London Plan’. His planning officers’ report identifies a list of issues that will need to be addressed for that position to change, ranging from a failure to ‘provide free to enter publicly accessible viewing areas’ to fears that it will ‘cause harm to the historic environment’ and compromise strategic viewing corridors.
- A date has been set for the Public Representation Hearing on Rockwell’s VIP trading estate scheme in Greenwich, which was previously rejected by the Labour-led borough. On 29 January, Sadiq will personally examine the application and cross-examine the scheme’s supporters and objectors, before determining whether or not planning permission should be granted.
- Meanwhile, PlanningResource reports that the Conservative-led Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has launched a legal challenge against Sadiq’s decision to call in Queensgate Bow UK Holdco’s application for a new 30-storey hotel. The council had refused the application, mainly on grounds of the proposed building’s height, and media reports suggest that the Communities Secretary may intervene in support of the local authority.
Westminster City Council has granted conditional permission for the redevelopment of Lord’s Cricket Ground’s Edrich and Compton stands, to provide an additional 2,500 seats to the ‘home of cricket’. The plans still require the approval of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), which is set to make a decision at its AGM in May. Assuming the plans are also approved by the Mayor – who had previously expressed reservations in response to the plans’ Stage 1 referral back in December – and the completion of a section 106 agreement, work on the stands is set to begin at the end of August, to be completed by the summer of 2021. Slightly further afield, Luton Council’s Development Control Committee granted planning permission for Luton Town FC’s new 23,000 seat stadium, which will also see 550 homes, bars, restaurants, a hotel and an entertainment venue built on the current brownfield site. The approval is subject to call-in by the secretary of state and the meeting of several planning conditions.
Estates Gazette has reported that Canary Wharf Group, Landsec and Stanhope have been shortlisted for second-round bids to become the Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity’s development partner on the mixed-use redevelopment of a five-acre, £200m site near St Thomas’ Hospital and Waterloo Station. Meanwhile, at the last Mayor’s Question Time session Sadiq mentioned another key NHS site in London which has been earmarked for redevelopment. In response to a question by Labour AM Leonie Cooper, the Mayor said that the GLA and partners are moving ahead with plans for the St Ann’s Hospital site in Haringey. He said that his housing team ‘will be publishing the tender pack to procure a developer next month’.
A TALE OF TWO SILVERTOWNS
GLA Land & Property alongside Keystone have submitted their plans for a Docklands scheme on the site of the former Carlsberg Brewery in Silvertown. The proposals comprise the construction of 5,000 homes, as well as work, retail and commercial space, a new primary school and a DLR station on the 40-acre site. The regeneration will also see the creation of two new parks and a river walkway, as well as offer residents the opportunity to commute by boat - while the area will also, eventually, be served by Crossrail. The GLA and Keystone hope to be granted planning permission for the first phase of the project by the summer.
Meanwhile, Indian billionaire Dr Subhash Chandra has launched a High Court claim over his plans for a separate scheme called Silvertown Quays. The nearby site is currently being redeveloped by a joint venture between the GLA, Lendlease and Starwood which will see 3,000 homes built there, as well as commercial and retail space. Dr Chandra’s claims that when Lendlease and Starwood took over the project from the GLA’s previous partners, he was not given the opportunity to ‘take part in a fair and transparent tender process’. His own proposals pledged to deliver 3,500 homes, as well as a ‘peace park’ comprised of a cultural centre with space for activities such as dance, yoga and meditation.
FROM THE CHAMBER
At the latest Mayor’s Question Time, Sadiq faced a particularly tough line of questioning from Green Party AM Sian Berry, on the performance of his ‘first dibs’ initiative. Launched in February, but activated sometime during the summer, the scheme involves ‘over 40 housebuilders’ voluntarily committing to restrict the marketing and sale of new build homes in the capital (specifically homes worth up to £350,000 and Help to Buy Homes), to UK buyers for the first three months, with a ‘head start’ of a month for Londoners, through the Mayor’s Homes for Londoners portal. While over 1,000 Help to Buy homes and 23 ‘first dibs’ homes have been advertised on the portal so far, the Mayor was unable to say how many of these have actually been bought by Londoners. While Sadiq promised a fuller account of the scheme’s performance following a review to take place next year, he declined to confirm whether this would be available before the May 2020 Mayoral elections.
- At the aforementioned MQT session, AMs approved a Planning Committee proposal to commission Joanna Chambers MRTPI, the Director of Changing Cities, to support its work in relation to the new London Plan EiP.
- Meanwhile, LCA client British Land has reshuffled its Board and Executive Committee as the developer repositions itself as a mixed-use specialist. Head of Offices Tim Roberts and Head of Retail, Leisure and Residential Charlie Maudsley will be stepping down from both Board and Committee, and their briefs will be taken on by new Head of Real Estate Darren Richards. Also, Emma Cariaga, Head of Operations, Canada Water and David Lockyer, Head of Broadgate Campus, will join the Executive Committee. For more details on these and other changes, see British Land’s press release.
- Haydn Mursell, CEO of construction contractor Kier, has resigned with immediate effect. Kier’s Chair Philip Cox will be taking over as executive chair until Mursell’s replacement is appointed.
The Evening Standard has reported that, according to research by analysts at Molior London, the number of new homes started by private sector housebuilders in the capital fell 15% in 2018 compared to 2017 – from 27,356 to 23,130 – with the drop mainly blamed on planning delays, council and GLA affordable housing requirements, as well as rising costs.
- The British Property Federation (BPF) has released its latest tranche of monitoring data on England’s burgeoning build-to-rent (BTR) sector. It has found that homes under construction rose by almost 40% last year compared to the year before, nationwide.
- Labour Assembly Member Tom Copley has released a new report entitled ‘Right to Buy: Wrong for London’ which essentially argues that the policy – which beginning in the 1980s enables social housing tenants to buy out their homes – has contributed to the housing crisis and should be scrapped, or at the very least heavily amended.
BOROUGH LEADER BREAKFAST
We were delighted to welcome Councillor Nickie Aiken, leader of Westminster City Council to our offices on Tuesday morning for a breakfast briefing. Aiken spoke to a selection of LCA clients from the housing, commercial development, infrastructure and business support sectors outlining her ‘City for all’ vision for the borough and priorities for the current council term. There was also a lively debate across a number of key issues and challenges in Westminster including the council’s recently launched proposals for Oxford Street, the ongoing changes to planning and resident engagement processes, the housing priorities in Westminster and the role of technology in delivering growth and positive change. Cllr Aiken also touched on the role of the Mayor and GLA and her initiatives with other boroughs and London Councils.
NLA STATE OF THE MARKET
We attended the New London Architecture (NLA) State of the Market seminar last week, which was packed by people wondering what 2019 will hold for the development industry in London. Professor Yolande Barnes, Chair of the Bartlett Real Estate Institute, referenced in her comments the growing threat of a ‘brain drain’ from the higher education sector especially - a term we might here more of in the coming months. Tony Danaher, Principal Adviser to the Department of Trade on Capital Investment, whilst recognising the obvious threat of competition from European cities to London’s position as the top city for inward investment to Europe, also noted that UK cities such as Birmingham were marketing themselves hard – and underlined that Birmingham’s directly elected Mayor is actively meeting potential investors, something he noted was not often seen by London’s Mayor.
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