CAPITAL OF CULTURE
So much for a quiet summer. While Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt compete for the limelight and offer up their thoughts on housing and immigration, the current Prime Minister is making moves on developers before her time is up.
But there’s more to life than politics, not least culture, education and sport, and to meet those needs we’ve got the East Bank taking shape over in Stratford, exciting designs revealed for the new Museum of London in West Smithfield and plans for a new twin rink ice centre at Leyton Marsh out for consultation.
So whether you’re more interested in the head-to-heads on Centre Court or in Westminster, as always in this great capital, there’s something for everyone.
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LEADERSHIP CANDIDATES ON HOUSING
The contest to be the next Prime Minster continues and both candidates have clearly got the memo that young voters, particularly those who rent or are hoping to one day own a property, are up for grabs. It has been widely reported that Boris Johnson is considering changes to stamp duty, having previously suggested that councils should be able to retain the revenue it raises. The former Mayor of London has also said that his no-deal Brexit emergency budget would include the raising of the stamp duty threshold from £125,000 to £500,000, while simultaneously lowering the top rate from 12% to 7%. The change would, according to analysis from Savills, exempt 300,000 buyers and therefore improve conditions for young people looking to purchase their first home. Underdog Jeremy Hunt has meanwhile appealed to 'generation rent', revealing his ‘Right to Own’ programme, which he claims will ‘help 1.5m young people get on the housing ladder’. Under the scheme, local authorities and Homes England would be urged to secure planning permission for the land that they own, thereby increasing its value before selling off a portion and using the profits to deliver affordable homes or help with deposits. As for planning, a Policy Exchange report released this week and endorsed by the Secretary of State calls upon the Government to reform the planning system in order to deliver more attractive homes. The report, ‘Building Beautiful Places’, includes several policy recommendations, including the suggestion that the Government introduce ‘place standards’ in national planning policy, details of which would be determined through a public consultation.
LONDON (IMMIGRANT) LABOUR
Hunt and Johnson have both said they will scrap the Conservatives’ current target of keeping net migration below 100,000 – a pledge which dates back to 2010 and which has never been met. Hunt is yet to offer much detail, but has said that he may consider a lower salary threshold in an attempt to implement a 'pro-business immigration policy'. Johnson, however, has gone further, saying that he would opt for an Australian-style points-based system under which new arrivals to Britain would be required to speak English and already have a job in the UK in order to settle. While a key topic in the context of Brexit, such proposals are likely to upset those sectors which have the largest migrant workforces, notably healthcare. The implementation of such a system would also be felt across most sectors in London. Writing in the Times, CEO of London First Jasmine Whitbread called Johnson’s proposal a ‘flawed approach’, highlighting that London’s businesses require access to the best workers at all levels in order maintain a strong economy. Whitbread noted research done by London First which has made the case instead for a 'salary threshold in line with labour market realities'.
AIRPORTS BURSTING AT THE SEAMS?
London City Airport is consulting on plans to increase the annual limit on the number of flights by 36%, or up to 110 flights per day. The east London airport has said that passenger numbers have increased by 42% over the last five years and that the masterplan ‘is a long-term vision [for how the airport] can meet continued demand sustainably [and] create jobs and opportunities for East London’. Air quality campaigners believe the plans would be a ‘disaster’ and the ultimate decision maker, Newham Council, has reiterated its commitment to making the borough carbon neutral by 2030. The consultation runs until 20 September. Meanwhile, Uttlesford District Council has refused Stansted Airport’s expansion plans. The Council had given provisional approval for nine new stands last year but following a change of administration – at the elections in May the independent group Residents for Uttlesford took control from the Conservatives – and a 1,600 signature petition, an Extraordinary General Meeting was called. The airport has made clear its concern 'that the Council has not only chosen to ignore the recommendations of its own officers but also disregarded its independent legal advice which supports the original view that there is no legitimate reason to withhold approval for this application'. Stansted has said it is now considering its options.
EAST BANK BREAKS GROUND
Work has started on the East Bank at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The £1.1bn project will see new education and culture facilities delivered across three sites: UCL East will include a new campus for University College London for 4,000 students and staff. Stratford Waterfront will comprise a new campus for 6,000 staff and students of the London College of Fashion alongside a dance theatre for Sadler’s Wells, BBC recording studio and new V&A museum. The third site, Here East, will include more facilities for UCL, and will also be the home of the new V&A Collection and Research Centre. The project has received funding from the Mayor of London and the Government. Westfield Stratford City has also pledged £10m for careers guidance and support for start-ups in the arts and culture industries. The first phase of construction is set to be complete in 2022, with the remaining buildings open in 2023.
TWICE THE ICE
Lee Valley Regional Park Authority (LVRPA, an LCA client) has announced plans to redevelop Lee Valley Ice Centre and create a new twin rink ice skating destination. Lee Valley Ice Centre is one of the most popular ice skating venues in the UK and is hugely in demand by elite skaters, ice hockey teams and as well as recreational skaters and families but it is coming to the end of its operational life. LVRPA are now consulting on proposals for a new, sustainably designed centre with two rinks, community spaces and a transformed surrounding landscape. The consultation is open until 1 September.
James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, has announced that 'Parliamentary time allowing', it will ban the sale of new-build homes as leasehold and that ‘pernicious’ ground-rents on new leases will also be reduced to £0. Though the news has been broadly welcomed, some campaigners have warned that the changes will create a two tier system whereby existing leaseholders are even further disadvantaged, especially if they have bought a new build property quite recently, as these homes will become 'increasingly unattractive' to buyers.
Danish firm, Kirkbi Invest, is to take over Merlin Entertainments in a £5.9bn deal. Merlin owns and operates a number of London attractions, including Madame Tussauds and the London Eye, as well as Legoland in Windsor. Kirkbi, which also owns The Lego Group, already owned a third of the shares in Merlin, which has suffered in recent months due to a drop in visitors to central London and after being sued for £5m following an incident in 2015 on a ride at Alton Towers in which sixteen people were injured. Commenting on the deal, Kirkbi said that it does not expect to make any changes with all current UK attractions to remain open, but with a view to ensuring Merlin reaches its 'full potential'.
- Former Lib Dem MP for Richmond Park Sarah Olney has been reselected to stand in the constituency. Olney held the seat, which is now occupied by Conservative MP and former Mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith, for a mere six months between a December 2016 by-election and the 2017 General Election.
- There are several leadership changes being made at Grosvenor. Mark Preston is set to step down as CEO of Grosvenor Group to focus on his roles of Executive Trustee of the Grosvenor Estate and Head of the Family Office. James Raynor is to take up the role of Executive Director of the London Estate this September before becoming Chief Executive of Grosvenor Britain & Ireland in September 2020. He is replacing Craig McWilliam who will become Grosvenor Group’s Chief Executive from 31 December 2020.
- Gerald Eve has announced 19 promotions. On the Planning & Development Team, Natalie Rowland and Alex Neal have been promoted to senior associate, and Kevin Henson has been made partner.
- Helen Crane has left her role as deputy news editor at Property Week to take on the role of property editor at City A.M.
DESIGNS REVEALED FOR THE NEW MUSEUM OF LONDON
The Museum of London has unveiled designs for its new home in West Smithfield, with plans to create a new world-class, 24-hour cultural destination in the historic heart of the capital. The designs go on display within the currently derelict West Smithfield site from Friday 5 July, as well as at the Museum of London’s existing London Wall site, for people to drop in, view the plans and leave their comments. LCA has supported the project for over four years and we were delighted to help the Museum secure significant coverage around the launch of its new plans, including in national, regional and local press (not to mention a page two scoop in the Financial Times!).
Following the launch of VU.CITY’s groundbreaking smart cities platform, we have been helping them get the word out with both founders of the company appearing on broadcast media in the last couple of weeks. Jason Hawthorne, VU.CITY’S Chief Technology Officer, was a guest on The Urbanist, a weekly podcast from Monocle magazine, telling Editor Andrew Tuck about how the platform is already impacting on planning, as well as some interesting insight into photogrammetry and its use during the Second World War. This was followed by co-founder Gordon Ingram’s slot on Talking Business, broadcast by BBC World News, which recently announced weekly viewing figures in excess of 100 million people across the globe. With potential to map any city in the world, this international reach is an important part of VU.CITY’s communications activity.
PASS IT ON... VOICE FROM WEMBLEY PARK
We are delighted to have supported our client Quintain at the launch of their latest book, ‘Pass it On… Voices from Wembley Park’. Marking 17 years of transformation at Wembley Park, the book includes interviews with some of those who have helped shape the area into the thriving neighbourhood it is today. Our Executive Chairman, Robert Gordon Clark, is featured in the book and noted at its launch that he was 'thrilled to see these different stories from so many people, across such a diverse range of backgrounds – it really does capture the spirit of Brent and Wembley Park so well'. Huge congratulations to Quintain on not only their book, but the exceptional change delivered at Wembley Park.
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