The City Property Association and Westminster Property Associations launch Central London’s first property manifesto for growth
24 July 2014, Blog
On Monday 21st July the City and Westminster Property Associations launched their manifesto “Building Central London’s Future: A Manifesto For Growth” in the
House of Lords. This report saw The City Property Association (CPA) and Westminster Property Association (WPA) join together and put forward a manifesto to promote growth in London.
Together they represent 400 major owners, developers and investors of commercial real estate in London. Collectively they champion the view that the built environment in London is one of the main drivers of the economy.
The manifesto was launched by CPA President, Robert Samuel, and WPA Chairman, Daniel Van Gelder, with Chairman of Policy & Resources at the City of London, Mark Boleat, and Leader of Westminster City Council, Cllr Philippa Roe. The House of Lords event was hosted by Lord Stevenson and Mark Field MP.
The launch was also supported by LSE Professor Tony Travers who stated that if the manifesto was not adopted then it could pose a serious risk to the UK’s economy.
The manifesto has called on all the major political parties to commit to the infrastructure that they claim is vital to meet growing demands of the capital. It states that London needs to cater for increased residential and commercial demand and that further development is essential in order to facilitate this.
It states that the central London property sector is worth £100bn. London will have to cater for a population of over 10m people by 2030 and one of the biggest risks to the property industry is the amount of uncertainty surrounding infrastructure investment in the UK. Without solid and sustainable policy initiatives investment will be deterred. The group have called for political harmony on infrastructure and want a cross party-group that is committed to infrastructure in the UK, regardless of which party is in power.
The manifesto calls for a 20 year plan that would offer long-term economic stability. The reforms to business local government finance are in accordance with Boris Johnson’s proposals in the London Finance Commission report.
It has also called for upgrades to the Bakerloo and Piccadilly Underground lines.
The two associations have called for the UK to remain in the EU to continue being competitive and that opting to leave could have a detrimental impact on the economic competiveness of the UK.
It also pointed out that 28% of GDP from London comes from the City and Westminster. It states that the important role that property development plays in economic growth in London should be recognised – it contributes £1.1bn GVA a year and delivers over 22,000 jobs.
The Prime Minister has promised that if re-elected a Conservative Government would hold a referendum on UK membership of the European Union by 2017. The CPA and WPA will join the CBI in campaigning to remain in the EU.
The manifesto calls for London local authorities to retain a greater proportion of property taxes – something that is being echoed by other regions in the United Kingdom. However it is unlikely that the Conservatives in particular, criticised by Labour for allegedly devising policies to benefit the City of London at the expense of the rest of the country, will countenance such a move.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, will have been buoyed by much of the report. In June 2013 he outlined his Vision for London in 2020. He called for financial autonomy, more investment in transport and the ability for councils to borrow to build more homes – issues that have been echoed in the CPA and WPA manifesto. Mr Johnson has previously claimed that London would need 1 million new homes by the mid 2030’s to cater for the growing population and this is something that CPA and WPA have also recognised.
Housing policy at a national level
Last week’s ministerial reshuffle saw major changes across Whitehall and for the first time in five years the housing and planning portfolios will be held by a single Minister.
Former Planning Minister, Nick Boles, was promoted in the reshuffle and left DCLG, taking up the role as Minister for Education and Business. Kris Hopkins MP has also departed as Housing Minister after less than a year in the role.
The Conservative MP for Great Yarmouth, Brandon Lewis, who was previously a Minister responsible for local government, has been promoted to Housing and Planning Minister. The last person to hold both portfolios was Margaret Beckett MP in 2009. He will be the fourth minister responsible for housing in the last three years. Prior to entering Parliament Mr Lewis was a barrister and a former director of a company providing private primary schools in Essex, a role which he resigned in 2012. He was council leader in Brentwood, Essex and is a close ally of Eric Pickles, who is constituency MP in Brentwood. During this period they (Mr Pickles and Mr Lewis) presented a radio show ‘The Eric and Brandon Show’ which was a non-political radio show that aired on Essex radio station Phoenix FM.
Labour are set to unveil new housing policies during their autumn political conference. The Lyons Review, launched during their 2013 conference, was set-up to review the best way to deal with the current housing crisis. Labour have focused on the protracted delays in the release of land as a root cause of Britain’s housing crisis. Sir Michael Lyons, chair of the review group, has stated that in times of severe housing shortage communities should not be able to veto development. Sir Michael has also set out his very own 2020 vision for the expansion of current conurbations, capable of using existing infrastructure, which he has argued could be built as quickly as new towns, and lead to tens of thousands of new homes. Although Labour are unlikely to adopt all of Lyon’s proposals they will certainly set out Labour’s overall approach and direction of travel in this crucial area of policy.
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