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London Plan Annual Report – A pretty unfair look at completions

It’s out! London faces a shortfall in completions having overseen 38,553 new homes (32,919 conventional) against the minimum target of 42,000.

There’s an interesting comment or two on the actual value of taking this KPI by itself. Lambeth delivered 180% over their benchmark figure (2,811 homes), Hillingdon 178% (993 homes), Richmond 173% (554 homes). Merton, Camden and Islington all also exceeded their benchmark by 50% or more.

There is then Barking and Dagenham which has overseen less than half of their benchmark figure because even though they’ve released some of the largest areas in London for residential development in 2015-16 – it’s all still in the pipeline which only goes to demonstrate the need to look into the KPIs more closely.

Saving Kensington and Chelsea from an ignominious placing at the bottom with only 114 units delivered, against a target of 733, is Bexley, who have been unlucky enough to actually go backwards having lost 100 units over 2015-16. Despite this, Bexley are actually in pretty good shape outside of this particular KPI and taking into account their delivery in the past.

A hat tip is due to the Boroughs of Newham, Lambeth and Islington who have made considerable headway in bringing long term vacant units back into use. 725 in Newham alone.

Five authorities over 2015-16 didn’t secure enough affordable housing to be statistically significant and three didn’t deliver a single home for the social market.

Javid, Cladding and Councils

As expected the fallout over funding continues in that age-old tradition of arguing about something very distantly related to the issue. This week we’re discussing whether Sajid Javid MP actually knew councils had requested financial support when he said they hadn’t last week.

Alok Sharma MP in a written reply to Croydon Council has provided assurances that money, where needed, will be made available. The number of authorities requesting financial support to help in re-cladding works is now said to number at least 10.

Brexit, projects and local authority money

The Local Government Association warns again today of the funding hole on the horizon as part of the nation’s decision to leave the EU.

Local councils, state the LGA, face a gap of some £8.4 Billion or £10.5 Billion if you’re exchanging for your upcoming holiday in Europe at the moment at near enough 1 for 1.

Central government maintains its position that all EU structural and investment fund projects will be renewed, provided they “provide value for money and are in line with UK priorities”, which is about as reassuring as central government gets these days.

Office to resi conversions, the tide turns

Never really welcomed by councils, the heyday of PD is now well and truly over as more and more authorities seek to limit the conversion of office to resi. This shouldn’t come as a great deal of surprise given some of the truly atrocious conversions taking place at small-scale level and the often deeply negative impact such conversions can have on not only the immediate functioning of a commercial area, but as an obstacle to comprehensive and sensible redevelopment. These things sadly overshadow the considerable number of conversions of a high standard which have taken place.

The team over at Planning Magazine have written up an interesting review and there’s little surprise that with space standards and contributions taking a considerable hit on many schemes, local government is not a fan. Read more here: http://www.planningresource.co.uk/article/1440666/homes-created-office-to-resi-permitted-development-right-measure

Harsh words never said

You may have seen coverage earlier this month of the briefing alleging the Housing Secretary is about to get all fire and brimstone over housing targets. The Mail on Sunday reported:

“Mr Javid has been pledged full support by Mrs May, who already faces a feud in her local Conservative Association over plans to build more houses aimed at young buyers. Mr Javid will promise to increase the number of homes built a year in Britain from 190,000 to 300,000, a rise of 58 per cent.”

It’s come to nothing so far, there is some similarity in the messaging between this release and the position taken by Javid in reference to councils and cladding tests and it’s likely to remain an example of a pre-briefing gone somewhat awry.

Leasehold ban

We all know that one person, or if you’re really unlucky persons, who are just a bit too clever for their own good. You’ll try and avoid getting into trouble with some of their schemes, but then you suddenly find yourself selling somebody a leasehold house and then selling the freehold without that customer’s knowledge to venture capitalists based abroad with the interpersonal skills of a marshmallow.

And so, news emerged on Wednesday that the government will take steps to ensure the practice that never should have been is made unattractive to investors.

By-elections

Just the three by-elections to report on today, with one Labour, one Conservative and one open seat. Labour retained Fallowfield in Manchester with 78% of the vote, the Conservatives held Scotter and Blyton in West Lindsay on 44% and in the manic open race in Blandford Central, North Dorset, the Conservatives prevailed with 36.6% of the vote to Labour’s 36.3%. Both parties gained vote share, the Conservatives 16.6% up and Labour 25.1%.

A nod to the Conservative candidate in Fallowfield, this was their second by-election in three months. Making sure your party is at least on the ballot in what is beyond a no-hope seat can be a thankless task.

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