London at MIPIM UK - Day 1 Round up

Wednesday 18 October 2017

The NLA is running a full series of events at this year’s MIPIM UK in London’s Olympia. Here are the highlights from day one.

  • Brexit issues clouding progress on devolution and skills crisis
  • Westminster ‘must change’ to build more affordable
  • Government continues cost-saving drive on London property
  • Transport the key in Old Oak regeneration

Brexit is the biggest issue facing London, with over 81% of businesses polled saying they were less positive about the future now than they were a year ago, the majority of them citing Europe as the reason for that – the GLA’s Fiona Fletcher Smith.

The topic is taking a ‘serious amount of bandwidth’ in government, and a major skills shortage is being overlaid by a ‘complete policy vacuum’ over Brexit, said Tony Travers. Better to get full devolution, with Manchester blazing a trail for London to learn from. After all, said Travers again, ‘the future is cities and city regions’.

Housing, of course, is another key issue facing the capital, especially given steep population rises. Modern forms of construction such as those being offered by Swan Housing, with its new factory, offer part of a solution, with potential 50% time savings. But housing provision has taken a knock from the Grenfell Tower disaster, said Westminster leader Nickie Aiken. The borough is still waiting for funds from central government, but is clear that it must fundamentally change. It must not be the preserve of luxury two-beds, but build more affordable across its boundary – if developers have paid too much for their land, that is their look-out. Stamp duty, though, has been the real ‘killer’.

London’s Estates offer a long-term model for provision of housing, residential and commercial, and at Broadgate, said British Land’s David Lockyer, the future will be about opening out to Shoreditch and Spitalfields – the ‘Badlands’ when it was built – and providing 6-7 times more retail on site. Certainly, placemaking is easier when you own the spaces between buildings, he added. Retail provision – with a trend to smaller spaces – was causing Argent’s Anna Strongman sleepless nights with the shopping centre at King’s Cross. As to the government, it owns £354bn of property across the country but will continue to make the case for less to be in central London in its cost-saving drive and in line with the PM’s agenda for rebalancing, said Sherin Aminossehe. ‘Not everyone needs to see a minister every two seconds’, she said. 

West London can provide a locus for meeting a big proportion of the housing shortfall, with infrastructure likely to be the key to unlocking 25,000 homes and 56,000 jobs at Old Oak Common. But creating such a new place allows for transport innovation. ‘In Old Oak there is no reason why anyone needs a car’, said Liz Peace. ‘What we want is residential for Londoners’. PRS will play a big part in west London, with providers like Greystar, but Brexit is not affecting either inward investment, according to Peace, or the commercial property scene in west London. ‘We very rarely hear the ‘B’ word from our tenants’, said Landid’s James Silver.

By David Taylor, Editor, New London Quarterly

For details on the day two programme on the London Stand at MIPIM UK click here

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