Deputy mayor for housing James Murray made a plea for more help from government and the development industry to take communities with them as he opened this year’s LREF last night.
Murray said it was imperative to get the ‘consent’ of Londoners if we are to create the kind of city we can be proud of, at the densities being talked of particularly in the suburbs, whilst also promising that the GLA will be more interventionist on land.
Speaking to a group of developers, architects, agents and local authority figures at the launch of this year’s show, Murray said: ‘if we can all work together we can build a city of the future of which we will be proud’. He said that the GLA’s involvement in creating housing on the St Anne’s Hospital site in Haringey was a sign of things to come, and something GLA is keen to expand on in the coming years. ‘With our intervention in the land market we can have a win-win for everyone’, he said.
Murray also said the deal with government to invest £4.8bn in ‘genuinely’ affordable housing was starting to bear fruit, along with reforms to the planning system, with the 35% fast track threshold approach to affordable housing now broadly accepted and embedded in land values.
Murray was talking following Westminster’s new cabinet member for placeshaping and planning Cllr Richard Beddoe, who in his first public speech warned that Westinster’s affordable housing policies will be stricter in its coming city plan, with more of an emphasis on on-site provision. ‘If you build in Westminster, you have to build for Westminster’, he said. An ongoing reform and review of the planning system is also underway, he added. Grosvenor chief executive Craig McWilliam said that ‘London’s success is our success’, but that benefits of places are rarely associated with developers. ‘We fail to tell our story in clear enough ways’, he said of the industry. ‘We have to be better at consistently and openly explaining our purpose and point of view.’ The need to animate the debate is high, he added, with the industry needing to be more transparent, with deeper collaboration with the public sector.
Savills CEO James Sparrow said in his 30 years in the property sector he could not recall in London real estate a time where there were more threats and challenges, but also more opportunities at the same time.
And Lend Lease’s Sherin Aminossehe gave an A—Z of key property issues, including Brexit, Flexibility, and Silvertown, now under the developer’s control, with Millennium Mills its new office product. Finally, NLA deputy chair Debbie Whitfield announced that this will be the last year of LREF in Berkeley Square, with the Honorary Artillery Company (HAC) its new home from next year.
By David Taylor, Editor, NLQ