Hail Sadiq Khan. Champion of developers. Any thoughts a leftie mayor would skew his post-Grenfell draft London Plan in favour of poor families can be discounted.
‘Densification’ is the Big Idea. A prescription that will promptly jack up values on the right land.
“The aim is to optimise housing potential,” says a cram plan with so little heart it could have been written by the Tin Man. “Boroughs should not set prescriptive dwelling size mix requirements.”
‘Forget family homes’ is the message. The plan is all about attaining the highest unit numbers, not accommodating those in highest need. Sadiq’s plan is built upon GLA estimates that just 4,300 of the 67,000 new homes needed per year should be low-cost three-/four-bed units, against 26,600 low-cost one-/two-bed units. Genuinely good news for developers – and crammer Khan.
Bad news for a family of five or six with a total income sub-£40,000. Who cares? Momentum will. The May elections will likely see some boroughs swing leftward of Khan. Pressure to accommodate poor families over singletons will grow. A development deal between Lendlease and Haringey council is already under threat.
The plan is about attaining the highest unit numbers, not accommodating those in need
I put this scenario to the deputy mayor of London and the deputy mayor of Paris last week. Both were attending a London First conference, which I chaired. Sadiq’s deputy for planning, regeneration and skills, Jules Pipe, suffered 15 minutes of my bleeding-heart questions with patience and grace. He suggested Momentum ardour will cool in the face of reality. Jean-Louis Missika, from the French capital, made a wise point: drop the word ‘densification’, Sadiq. An inflammatory concept, said the man in charge of regeneration of the restless poorer quarters of Paris that are depicted in the TV show Spiral.
Oomph gone missing at JLL and Landsec
“What has happened to JLL?” A question asked with odd regularity. The UK business has lost its once-legendary ‘oomph’, according to both friends and rivals. Are thoroughbred JLL staff feeling down in the mouth after years of watching the CBRE workhorse stretch ahead in the reputation stakes. Who knows? On that topic, Landsec’s oomph appears to be in hiding too.
Rival British Land (BL) used to be the more cautious of the pair. Under Chris Grigg, it has become the more entrepreneurial, daring to go south of the river and invest in Canada Water being one example. Landsec boss Rob Noel appears hesitant on what to do next after a sterling six-year run. Who can blame him? Last time Landsec tried to sex-up the business in 2000 it bought property manager Trillium, with terrible consequences. Full disclosure: CBRE and BL both held very gossipy parties for the press before Christmas.
Trebles all round, partners
Judging by the accounts of Gerald Eve, Montagu Evans and Allsop, their equity partners can afford jolly parties. All three posted accounts to March/April 2017 last month, with no fanfare. Profit for distribution among the 32 members of Gerald Eve was £15m on £62m of income.
At Montagu Evans, turnover was £42m, profit for distribution £23m. The 86 members shared an average payout of £271,000, the highest earning £874,000. At Allsop, income was £44m, with distributable profits of £15m. The average profit for each of the 17 equity partners was £469,000. Among the 41 salaried members the average was £265,000. The highest paid member earned £635,000.
Go see the show at Circus West
I asked Battersea Power Station boss Rob Tincknell on 16 January if the Malaysian backers of the £9bn scheme were paying Apple to grace the development or was Apple going to pay for the 500,000 sq ft it takes in 2021? Rob’s eyebrows rose. Apple will pay rent. A fact confirmed on 17 January with news of a fresh Malaysian cash injection, which values the station at £1.6bn. Without Apple’s golden revenue stream the value would surely be less.
Just before Christmas, I switched from long-term cynic to “blimey, I’m a Battersea believer”. The Damascene moment came during a tour of the public wedge of the 38-acre site accessed from Chelsea Bridge. My decidedly non-spiritual guide was Mark Hutton, sales-person in chief. To date, 800 of the 865 completed flats are occupied. The wall of glass seen chugging into Victoria isn’t pretty.
But Circus West Village is a looker from the other side. The residents’ club room could grace One Hyde Park. The private dining rooms are booked until Easter, even though nearly 20 non-chain eateries and shops are now trading. You can scarf pizza under the railway arches in Danish-owned Mother. Maybe order a takeaway? Then pick up a bottle of ‘89 Langoa Barton at The Battersea General Store for £95, or a magnum of ’89 Haut Brion for £2,000, if feeling expansive. Go, see.
Peter Bill is a journalist and author of Planet Property