LONDON AND BEYOND
It is almost two years since the Grenfell Tower tragedy and we look at what has happened since then. Meanwhile, new Mayoral initiatives to support the high street, boost the night-time economy, and make London’s streets safer and air cleaner offer hope that City Hall is on the ball. But lagging performance at the OPDC is generating concern.
Other London news covered by today’s edition of LDN spans property deals on the Thames riverside, a fire and a planning refusal in the East, as well as developer-funded free school meals in the West.
But we also look further afield, examining challenges to Guildford’s new Local Plan and pondering the implications of Power Up the North.
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(ALMOST) TWO YEARS ON
It is almost two years on from the Grenfell tragedy which claimed 72 lives and began a period of mourning and intense circumspection from all of the organisations and sectors involved. This period is by no means over, in fact it has barely started with a number of inquiries and reviews in train, including the Hackitt review. Meanwhile, a fire at a block of flats in Barking has served as a reminder that there is still work to be done when it comes to fire safety and building regulations. The Barking fire is understood to have destroyed 20 flats and damaged a further 10. While the cause of the fire remains under investigation, many reports have attributed its rapid spread to the building’s timber balconies. Developers, architects and regulators alike will surely be considering the fire’s implications for fire safety measures in timber-clad building designs. In an interview with LBC, Conservative London Assembly Member and local resident Andrew Boff has said he was at the scene and participated in efforts to alert the building’s occupants – and the AM asserts that he did not hear any fire alarms go off during the blaze.
BROKENSHIRE PUTS HIS FOOT DOWN
The Secretary of State, James Brokenshire has rejected plans for a mixed-use development in Tower Hamlets. The proposals by Sainsbury’s are for the replacement of the existing supermarket and car park with a new store, learning facility, workspace, and almost 500 homes. The plans had been recommended for refusal by Tower Hamlets planning officers, amended and then resubmitted on several occasions. The planners’ concerns had focused on the affordable housing offer, impact on local landmarks, and issues with day/sun light for surrounding properties. After the borough failed to make a decision on the application within the statutory time limit, Sainsbury’s launched an appeal and the Planning Inspector subsequently recommended the plans’ approval. Brokenshire notably agreed with the Inspector that the 65 affordable homes on the site (13.8%) would make ‘significant contribution to the Borough’s needs’ and was the ‘maximum reasonable amount’ to be delivered there. However, he has refused the plans on the basis of their day/sun light impact and their effect on local heritage assets.
The Old Oak Park and Park Royal Development Corporation’s (OPDC) leadership was grilled by the London Assembly’s Budget & Performance Committee yesterday. The session confirmed that the OPDC’s plans to help deliver new infrastructure, homes and jobs across a 650 hectare site in north-west London over the next two decades remain precarious. It was freely admitted by Chair Liz Peace that the OPDC faces a “very challenging point in [its] history” and still needs to fulfil several conditions before it can access a critical £250m grant by the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF). These conditions include the approval of the OPDC’s draft Local Plan and further financial commitments by the Mayor, neither of which are certain. Liz Peace also explained that the organisation faces an interim funding gap and so remains dependent on additional GLA funding. Beyond its financial troubles, the OPDC’s land assembly efforts (for which about half the HIF funds are earmarked) remain mired in complex negotiations and disputes with the area’s major landowners. One of these is Cargiant – an LCA client – which is challenging the viability of the Corporation’s draft Local Plan. Finally, it was also revealed that any major delay to or scrapping of HS2 itself would challenge the very foundations on which the regeneration is based.
SAVING LONDON'S HIGH STREETS
The Mayor is making available £20m in the third round of his Good Growth Fund to ‘improve town centres and high streets’. Sadiq has also announced the creation of a pilot Night Time Enterprise Zone (NEZ) in an attempt to boost high streets after-hours offer. City Hall’s night-time economy initiative was announced alongside plans for a new Safer Sounds Partnership, which will bring together venue operators, event organisers, the police and councils to ‘make it easier for organisers to put on live events and safer for music fans by promoting high standards and offering support and training’. To put this in context, research conducted by Springboard has shown that May 2019 marked the most severe fall in the number of customers on high streets in six years across the UK. This is in comparison to a good May last year (the sun was out then for starters) but it still isn’t a pretty picture as borne out by the fact that many national retail and hospitality groups are facing tough times. The Mayor’s support will therefore be warmly welcomed by businesses in Londoners – but will it be enough?
CLEANER, GREENER, SLOWER - SORRY, WHAT?
Sadiq has also released £6m from his Air Quality Fund to establish four new Low Emission Neighbourhoods (LENs) and 11 other projects across London’s boroughs. One such project is Healthy Streets Everyday which is aiming to deliver 250 car free and pedestrianisation initiatives across 16 boroughs over three years. TfL has meanwhile launched a consultation on proposals to reduce the speed limit on roads within the Congestion Zone to 20mph, a measure which primarily aims to help achieve the Mayor’s Vision Zero initiative to tackle road accidents, injuries and deaths. The consultation will run until 10 July – and the measure could be implemented as soon as May 2020.
ITV DEAL FLOPS?
According to reports in the property press, the sale of ITV’s London Television Centre to Allied London has ‘collapsed’ and as of writing, no reason has been given for the deal’s failure. Knight Frank launched the sale in January, with an initial asking price in the region of £150m. ITV had previously intended to redevelop the site itself, securing planning consent for a new studio building as well as a residential tower. However, they decided to sell up last October.
MEANWHILE IN LIB DEM COUNTRY
The Liberal Democrats are the latest party to have revealed their ‘super-constituency’ candidates for next year’s London Assembly elections. The candidates include current Leader of Richmond Council Gareth Roberts, who will stand for the South West seat and Haringey Councillor Dawn Barnes, for the Enfield & Haringey seat. If the party’s good performance at the European Elections can be replicated next May, then it may well be that Caroline Pidgeon will have some company on the Assembly in 2020. In the meantime, the party is set to elect its new national leader in the coming months. In a much less competitive (and by far more courteous) leadership election than that of their Conservative counterparts, MP for East Dunbartonshire Jo Swinson is competing against London MP for Kingston and Surbiton Sir Ed Davey, following the resignation of Vince Cable MP. Nominations closed on 7 June and members will be voting between 1 and 23 July. The new leader will be announced on the last day of the vote and is expected to take over immediately.
SHOULD DEVELOPERS PAY FOR SCHOOL MEALS?
Hammersmith and Fulham has ‘declared war on food poverty’ and committed to providing a free breakfast to every primary school pupil in the borough – roughly 10,000 children – starting this September. H&F has further announced a four year pilot scheme to offer the 700 students of two secondary schools free lunches, starting in January 2020. It is unclear how much these initiatives will cost as a whole but according to the council’s own press release, ‘the scheme will be paid for entirely by community contributions won by the council taking a tough approach in negotiations with property developers.’ The Council has further told reporters that ‘about £643m has been raised from property developers since 2014.’
GUILDFORD LOCAL PLAN LATEST
Guildford Borough Council’s new Local Plan is facing no less than three legal challenges, all of which take aim at its designation of green belt sites as appropriate for residential development. The applications for judicial review of the Plan lodged at the High Court come from two Parish Councils (Compton and Ockham) and a Guildford resident – all represented by the same law firm. The Council hastily adopted the Plan at an emergency council meeting held barely a week before the ruling Conservatives were roundly defeated at May’s local elections. The council is now run by a coalition of Liberal Democrats and several local independent groups. Guildford’s new Liberal Democrat Leader and Lead Councillor for Planning have responded cautiously to news of the court challenges and it is clear that the borough is in a bit of a pickle: While Leader Caroline Reaves had voted in favour of the Plan, many of her party colleagues had voted against it and her cabinet includes members of independent groups which had campaigned furiously against the Plan’s adoption. The Plan’s challengers are now awaiting a preliminary High Court ruling on whether they have an arguable case (and a date for a subsequent full hearing).
Last week, a potent new ‘Power up the North’ campaign was launched by more than 33 newspapers and websites across northern England, with the aim of narrowing the ‘North-South divide’. Newcastle’s ChronicleLive railed against the North being ‘treated as the ‘poor relation’ for too long’ and the Manchester Evening News warned that ‘every day of dither and delay risks leaving the north at an even greater disadvantage.’ Indeed, there is much evidence of under-investment in England’s northern cities and counties. Only a couple of weeks ago, the UK2070 Commission, led by Lord Kerslake, published a report calling for drastic action to ‘tackle regional inequality.’ Northerners do well to stand up and demand more of national government. But regional and local government in the capital should also take heed; much of the rhetoric surrounding the divide goes beyond criticism of central government policy and strays into disparaging London and the wider South-East. Both the Chronicle and Evening News, cited above, accuse politicians of ‘putting London and the South-East’s interests first.’ London’s politicians will do well to keep this in mind when making the case for the capital’s needs – and avoid being drawn into the fallacy of a zero-sum, ‘us-versus-them’ game.
BIRTHDAY HONOURS AND OTHER PEOPLE MOVES
The Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2019, which recognises the achievements of 1,073 ‘extraordinary people’ across the UK, was announced last week. We noticed a number of prominent Londoners on the list. You may find a sample of these below.
Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire
- Carolyn Fairbairn – CEO of CBI, for services to UK Business.
- Rachel Whiteread – Sculptor, for services to Art.
- Charles Bowman – Former Lord Mayor of London, for services to Trust in Business, International Trade and the City of London.
- Nigel Carrington – Vice-Chancellor of University of the Arts London, for services to Higher Education and the Creative Industries.
- Robert Cohan – Founding Artistic Director, The Place, for services to Choreography and Dance.
- James Wates – Chairman of Wates Group, for services to Business and to charity.Simon Woolley – Founder and Director of Operation Black Vote, for services to Race Equality.
- Brian Appleyard – Sunday Times writer and author, for services to Journalism and the Arts
- Philip Brook – Chairman, All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, for services to Tennis.
- Marcus Davey – CEO and Artistic Director of The Roundhouse, for services to the Arts.
- Benedict Evans – Director of the London Design Festival, for services to the Creative Industries.
- Ptolemy Dean – Architect, for services to Heritage and Design.
- Brenda Emmanus – BBC London broadcaster and cultural reporter, for services to Broadcasting and Diversity
- Arvinda Gohil – CEO of Community Links, services to the community and Housing for Vulnerable People.
- Bettany Hughes – Historian, Author and Broadcaster, for services to History.
- Maria Kane – CEO of North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust, for services to Leadership in Healthcare
- Siwan Hayward - Director of Compliance Operations and Policing Services at Transport for London, for services to Transport and Policing.
- Lucy Musgrave – CEO of Publica, for services to Architecture and the Built Environment.
- Ralph Rugoff – Director of the Hayward Gallery, for services to Art.
- Petra Salva – Director of Services (Rough Sleeper, Ex-Offenders and Migrant Services) at St Mungo's Community Housing Association, for services to Homeless People.
- Gary Byfield - Inspector, Metropolitan Police Service, for services to Families of Police Officers Killed in the Line of Duty.
- Matthew Downie - Director of Policy and External Affairs, Crisis, for services to Tackling Homelessness.
- Linda Lloyd Jones - Head of Exhibitions and Loans at the Victoria and Albert Museum, for services to British Culture.
- Hugh Pearman – architecture critic, for services to Architecture.
- Saira Wajid - Head of Engagement at the Museum of London, for services to Culture and Diversity.
In other People Moves:
- The Chiswick House and Gardens Trust have announced Sir Derek Myers as their next Chair of the Board of Trustees. Myers is also a non-executive director at LCA.
- Former Estates Gazette Head of Content David Hatcher will be launching React News, a new online commercial real estate news service, on 17 June.
Several council ward by-elections are set to take place across London over the summer.
- On 20 June, voters will go to the polls in Wandsworth’s Furzedown ward, following the resignation of Labour councillor Candida Jones who is reported to be taking up a ‘politically restricted post’.
- A new councillor for Merton’s Cannon Hill ward will also be elected on 20 June following the resignation of Labour councillor Mark Kenny for health reasons.
- On 18 July, Richmond’s East Sheen ward will see a by-election following the death of Lib Dem councillor Mona Adams.
- A date has not yet been announced for a by-election in Hounslow’s Heston West following the passing of veteran councillor Rajinder Bath on 2 June.
LCA is proud to be the 2019 London Real Estate Forum’s (LREF) official communications partner. LREF began this morning and will run until tomorrow evening. Members of our team are scuttling up and down the HAC Grounds venue, tweeting maniacally, vox-popping attendees and speaking on several panels. Today, our Managing Director Jonny Popper chaired a session on the South Bank and Chairman Robert Gordon Clark teamed up with Research Manager Stefanos Koryzis to present a 4x3m version of our Who Runs London graphic – produced in partnership with LSE Professor Tony Travers - and on the wall of the tent ready for your comment. There will be more from the LCA team tomorrow too so do check the programme if you're attending and come and say hello. The theme for this year's conference is 'people not property' and several sessions focus on how development can deliver positive change for local communities.
ESPORTS AND THE FUTURE OF REAL ESTATE
LCA is supporting global architecture practice HKS gear up for an event focusing on the impact of rapidly growing esports brands on the property world, as they look to turn their digital presence into a physical one. The event will be hosted by HKS at its offices on Great Titchfield Street, on Tuesday 25 June. Our great line up of speakers includes Edge Esports Founder David Yarnton, alongside a representative from Sony and Savills Director for Corporate Real Estate Services Piers Nickalls. If you’re interested in coming along, please email LCA Account Manager Chris Hewett.
AND THE NOMINEES ARE
What a week it's been for our clients and awards! King’s Cross has been shortlisted in the newly launched Pineapples Awards, in the ‘Place in Progress’ category, alongside our client Quintain for their work at Wembley Park. We were also pleased to hear that HB Reavis has been shortlisted as the ‘Offices Company of the Year’ in this year’s Estates Gazette Awards. We have been delighted to support their submissions and wish them the best of luck! We look forward to seeing you all at the Festival of Place in July, where The Pineapples will be awarded.
LCA prides itself on its intelligence-led approach to PR and communications and our dedicated research team monitors London politics, news and issues as it happens. If you would like to know more about LCA or anything in this edition of LDN – London in short please get in touch.
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.
If you would like to know more about anything covered in this or any other edition of LDN or if you would like to know more about LCA please contact Duncan Hepburn on 020 7612 8480 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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