Thames Barrage

London Forum Updates

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Developers slammed about Bishopsgate viability claims


Posted on: 9 December 2015 at 10:44:02
Building Design has publicised in an article which you can read here details of an investigation by BNP Paribas into the viability assessment for the development of the Bishopsgate Good Yard.
It revealed that the developer could have provided three times as much affordable housing than it claimed.
This is a very serious matter and could affect affordable housing delivery in many major developments. A report was published by the Guardian on a similar situation in Elephant and Castle. Viability is a matter that community and civic groups need to watch carefully in borough decision making and to seek independent appraisals of viability claims when the local authority is prepared to fund them.
The two boroughs involved had other objections also which the article summarises, including harm to the setting of the Tower of London World Heritage Site.
The application has been called in by the Mayor for his determination and it will be interesting to see what the GLA does about the design of the scheme and its contribution of affordable housing.
Members who attended the 15th September London Forum open meeting on viability will recall the excellent presentations given on assessing viability by Sacha Winfield-Ferreira of BNP Paribas and by John Wacher of LB Islington (click on the names to see the slides).
John demonstrated what can be achieved in his borough where resources and skills have been developed for viability negotiations. That is needed in all local authorities and there is a guide to help the process.
BNP Paribas staff are carrying out a lot of work on this and related subjects. Examples are a viability study of Community Infrastructure Levy and Local Plan Policies for LB Hounslow and viability training for LB Lambeth staff.


Heritage Counts surveys London's historic environment


Posted on: 8 December 2015 at 22:54:18
Heritage Counts 2015 is the fourteenth annual survey of the state of the capital's historic environment and is published by Historic England.
Heritage Counts - London 2015 
As in previous years, Heritage Counts provides a summary of historic environment indicators including an analysis of staffing levels, heritage at risk, planning applications and visitor, education and volunteering figures.
See the details of Local Authority Profiles and a set of Indicators.


Housing commission launched by Local Government Assoc


Posted on: 6 December 2015 at 18:41:44
The Local Government Association (LGA) has launched a Housing Commission to explore new routes by Councils to more housebuilding.
See details and objectives here.


'Red Tape review' initiated in construction industry


Posted on: 6 December 2015 at 17:52:32
Housebuilders will have their say on ineffective rules and heavy-handed enforcement that stop them building the homes that Britain needs in a new Cutting Red Tape review launched (as here) on 2nd December 2015.
Building on the work of the Housing Implementation Task Force, this review will uncover the issues that have the biggest effect on housebuilders and seek the views of smaller firms to understand the unique pressures they face.


Susdrain publicises updated SuDS manual


Posted on: 6 December 2015 at 16:31:06
The UK’s most comprehensive SuDS guidance for sustainable urban drainage has been released to support uptake, manage floods and create better places and spaces.
As the UK moves into winter, potentially a time of greater flood risk as seen during the 2013-2014 winter, CIRIA has launched the most comprehensive industry SuDS guidance available in the UK.  See here.
The ciria site requires logging in for download, so a copy has been placed on London Forum's web site here.
Community groups should be aware of the policies for SuDS and liaise with their local authority on local implementation. That should include conditions placed on planning approvals for the use of permeable hard surfaces and other means of avoiding storm run-off from buildings.


A turnaround decade for housing promises Greg Clark


Posted on: 29 November 2015 at 16:23:12
A speech given on 25th November 2015 to the National House Building Council by Greg Clark has been published here.
In it he continues to criticise the planning system but acknowledges the current deficit in housing supply. He said the Government had "increased the stock of affordable homes. Over 263,000 affordable homes have been provided in England since April 2010 - nearly one third of them in London."
However, he fails to say how many of those were at rents in London suitable to someone earning less that £30,000 annually, nor how many of the 400,000 affordable homes he promises now will have rents that people on low to average incomes can afford.
The facts are that delivery of social rented homes has failed: London’s 2011-15 target was 8,000 but 4,221 were delivered plus only half of the 13,000 ‘affordable’ housing planned and those are at an average 80% market rent, well beyond the means of most people. The ‘intermediate’ housing target was 5,280 but only 2,390 were delivered.
A massive programme must be started of building homes by Housing Associations and Councils at rents that key workers and those on low wages can afford. If that is not done, the prediction by Savills that 70,000 new households a year will be unable to afford to rent or buy market housing unless assisted may harm both quality of life and London's economy.
Clark said that any Conservative government intervening in the market "is not something done lightly". However, he still intends to make office-to-resi permanent permitted development.


£400m warchest to rescue affordable housing deals


Posted on: 29 November 2015 at 15:39:53
Measures introduced by the Chancellor in July which included a 1 per cent cut to social rents has hit social landlords’ finances and their ability to pick up the affordable homes developers provide.
Cheyne Social Property Impact Fund has told Construction News it was already in the running for six “section 106 assets” in London and the North-west. Impact fund manager Shamez Alibhai said he had been approached by councils, associations and private housebuilders to step in and invest following the summer Budget. The fund will buy the affordable homes as an asset and lease them back to the council or housing association.
Cheyne is looking to invest up to £400m over the next three years in section 106 planning deals, out of a total of £900m it plans to invest in housing projects across the UK.


Savills: Severe problems in finding a home to live


Posted on: 29 November 2015 at 15:07:40
A report by Savills clarifies the problems for people looking for a home in London. The seriousness of the situation now and the potential problems in the future are very worrying.
An extra 350,000 English households will be unable to access either subsidised or market-rate housing in the next five years - including London families with annual incomes of up to £60,000.
Centre for London think-tank has concluded that, within two years, people with occupations such as senior nurses, teachers, doctors, solicitors and journalists will be unable to find housing that they can afford in the Greater London area.
Savills concludes that Right to Buy and Starter Homes will be unaffordable to households on the lowest incomes. In London 26,000 additional households a year will need housing that costs less than the market rate.
London Forum believes building more social housing in large quantities in London is essential but the Housing and Planning Bill indicates a huge switch of subsidy from such homes to ones to buy. The Bill's policies would reduce the number of low cost Council and Housing Association rental homes available now and three or more of them must be built for every one sold.
See Savills' reports on various aspects of the housing market here.


Deloitte's coverage of the Autumn Statement 2015


Posted on: 28 November 2015 at 17:01:48
Details from the Autumn Statement of the Chancellor, George Osborne, are summarised by Deloitte in a useful document here.


Review of the Community Infrastructure Levy


Posted on: 20 November 2015 at 22:39:54
The Government has announced a review of CIL which will come forward with proposed measures to ensure that developers are meeting their contribution to improved local infrastructure.
The details are announced here and the terms of reference and a questionnaire for completion are here.  The Government requests responses by 24th December and the deadline is 15th January 2016.
The Government states in the questionnaire that it is expecting submissions to be made by local authorities, developers and consultants.  However, London Forum urges community groups and others with experience of CIL and viability assessments to submit comments on the consultation's queries.

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