Lexington’s Property Bulletin: NOVEMBER 2009


Boris’ advisor joins Lexington

Alex Crowley, Boris Johnson’s former political adviser, has joined Lexington Communications as Associate Director.

Alex worked with Boris for almost 2 years, both at City Hall and as Boris’ policy director during the Mayoral election campaign. 

Before that, he worked for the London Assembly Conservative Group.

Alex brings unique insight into London politics at the highest level and will strengthen the Lexington’s offer to those clients that have policy issues in the Capital.  

Wyn Evans, who heads up Lexington’s Property & Planning team, said: 

“We are delighted that Alex has joined Lexington. Boris is stamping his personal authority on planning and economic development issues with the publication of the London Plan and his increasing interventions on individual applications. Understanding the political dynamics of City Hall is essential for companies wanting to engage with the Mayor and the GLA on property and planning issues.”

Alex can be contacted on 020 7025 2300 or alex.crowley@lexcomm.co.uk.

Slough Trading Estate Masterplan gets the go-ahead

Slough Borough Council has given the go-ahead to the first stage of SEGRO’s 20 year development plan to transform Slough Trading Estate.

Working closely with the team of professional consultants, Lexington developed a comprehensive communications plan that resulted in SEGRO securing the support of occupiers, a diverse local community, a cross party of MPs, regional agencies and positive local press coverage.

SEGRO described Lexington as: “great organisers and quick to pick up on political sensitivities amongst stakeholders.”
For more information about the consultation and promotional plan, please contact emma.cerrone@lexcomm.co.uk

Government publish the first National Policy Statements

Plans to speed up the delivery of major infrastructure in the UK have taken a step forward with the publication of the draft National Policy Statements (NPSs) for energy and ports.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband MP has published the eagerly awaited framework for energy. As anticipated, there is one overarching policy with five individual NPSs covering particular areas from nuclear to renewable energy.  Following the Government’s earlier Strategic Site Assessment, the nuclear NPS is the only statement to identify specific sites.

The Department for Transport has also published the first of a number of NPSs within its remit with the publication of the consultation on ports.

All the statements are now subject to consultation until February. House of Commons Select Committees have also announced plans to scrutinise the policies in January. 

However, it is highly unlikely the final policies will be published before the next election, and with most commentators expecting a change of Government, industry will look to the Conservatives to maintain greater certainty in the planning process. 

The Conservative’s Shadow Energy Minister Greg Clark MP has indicated his support for the concept of NPSs to speed up the planning process for major infrastructure projects, although remains committed to abolishing the Infrastructure Planning Commission as the determining body.

For more information, contact Chris Yearsley on 020 7025 2300 or chris.yearsley@lexcomm.co.uk

Tories to publish planning reform proposals

Bob Neill MP, the Conservatives’ shadow Planning Minister, has confirmed that the Party intends to publish its consultation paper on reforming Britain’s planning system “ahead of Christmas”. 

The paper is expected to confirm the Party’s much trailed policy to abolish regional plans and housing targets while giving local councils financial incentives to support development.

It is also expected to propose the abolition of the new Infrastructure Planning Commission (rolling its functions into the Planning Inspectorate), and to introduce a new over-arching national planning framework while streamlining existing national planning policies.

Lexington has been running policy workshops and briefings on the potential implications that these changes could have for individual property companies and their development proposals.

If you want more information about this service, please contact Wyn Evans on 020 7025 2321 orwyn.evans@lexcomm.co.uk

Focus on: The London Plan

In October 2009 the Mayor published his draft replacement London Plan, along with his draft Economic Development and Transport strategies. Lexington’s Associate Director, Alex Crowley, sets out his analysis:

The central theme running through this draft of the London Plan is the idea that economic growth and the continued development are compatible with a high quality of life and the ‘beautification’ of the city. High quality housing with enhanced space and design standards, mixed communities and improved urban realm are particular political, as well as personal, priorities for the Mayor. Therefore, this draft contains a lot on improving the local environment, protecting strategic views, protecting small shops, setting very clear guidelines around tall buildings and protecting back gardens. A new housing design guide was published by City Hall earlier this year.

Throughout the process of developing the new London Plan, the Mayor has had to maintain a fine political balancing act between satisfying the demands of business and the development community, and the demands of Tory Councils, London Assembly members and activists. The latter groups feel very strongly that outer London areas should be ‘protected’ against further development. These groups oppose tall buildings, want to protect strategic views and feel that City Hall should not dictate to councils what should or should not be built in their areas. Therefore, the Mayor has been at pains to accommodate these views in his published documents and public rhetoric- although he also accepts you cannot have a strategic plan that is too narrow in its focus and he is not a NIMBY at heart.  So although the document proscribes specific circumstances where tall buildings could be approved, they aren’t ruled out completely- as many outer London Tories would like to see for their areas. 

Overall, this draft delivers most of those political promises, whilst making clear that the Mayor wants to position London as the undisputed business capital of the world, and wants to broadly encourage sustainable growth. Crucially, unlike Tory proposals at a national level, the Mayor has not called for the return of planning powers to local councils. To satisfy calls for this to happen, he has worked hard to engage with local councils and has stuck to his promise to use his powers of intervention sparingly. This approach has won broad support across party lines.

Comments on the plans need to be submitted to the Mayor by 12 January 2010. More information can be obtained here or via Alex Crowley on 020 7025 2300 or alex.crowley@lexcomm.co.uk

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