25 June 2019

Rain stops play...for now!

By Maggie Agbonson

Recently Cascade was fortunate enough to be invited to play in the inaugural London Real Estate Cricket Cup. Sadly the rain saw off play, but the Forum provided a useful opportunity to reflect on the developments in the industry a year on from the borough elections.

There is growing frustration at the lack of speed at which things are progressing, that the lack of focus and legislation from the Conservative Government means that borough councils have growing control over shaping the way London develops. This, in turn, leads to greater control for the Mayor – now just 44 weeks away from re-election.

The Mayor, who sponsored the event, is more than aware of the challenges he faces to deliver his ambitious targets set out in the London Plan, and remains keen to make sure the private sector is available to help him deliver. But, and it’s a big one, there remains that refusal to acknowledge within the sector that the rules have changed. One interesting development is the sudden desire for developers to start talking about the “need” for a return to council housing.

It would be easy to be cynical and wonder if the private sector is simply trying to undermine the Be First model in Barking and Dagenham or to only deliver private development in exchange for financial contributions towards social homes. Seeking to make the most of the impasse, the Mayor sent Jules Pipe (Deputy Mayor for Planning) and Rickardo Hyatt (Assistant Housing Director) to the Forum but there might well be a break in the weather.

All eyes are now on Westminster as we await the outcome of the Conservative leadership election (and the next PM) between Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson. Although Jeremy Hunt has said very little on housing, in fact his campaign website says nothing, we do know more about what to expect from Boris Johnson. Cascade is monitoring both candidates closely and will let you know of any relevant announcements.

Speaking to the Assembly Members during his time at City Hall, as well as the current Chairman of Homes England, Sir Edward Lister, “Boris” is considered to be one of the great delegators and his housing staff in London did deliver. Many are rumoured to return when (should) “Boris” be handed the keys to No.10 but those expecting the handbrake to immediately come off non-Brexit legislation might be disappointed.

All the indicators now point to a General Election, quite possibly called as early as the 23rd July. Rumours of an immediate no confidence vote in the Government during the three days before Parliament rises on the 25th July has focused minds in the Conservative Party. They will fear a Brexit Party much less with a chief Brexiteer taking them into battle. If the new leader doesn’t go to the country, then he would then almost certainly face a vote of no confidence on 3rd September — the first day back from summer recess – this would mean an election on 24th October, a week before the Brexit deadline.

As for Labour, suddenly from nowhere yesterday, they announced that sitting Labour MPs have been given two weeks (instead of the usual three months) to inform the party whether they want to be a parliamentary candidate at the next election. The clearest indication yet that they think a General Election is only weeks away.

Expect the process of reselecting the candidates to yet further distract Labour minds away from the actual business of their respective councils, although MPs will be buoyed by the reselection of all London Assembly candidates for the 2020 elections. However, it’s easier to get members to come out and vote against an unpopular MP on a rainy night than a Assembly candidate, and the one thing we do know for certain is… that it definitely rains.

Maggie Agbonson

Maggie is a recent graduate in International Relations from London Met and has been a member of Cascade since January 2019. She works across London and the South East including Cambridge, Lambeth and Wandsworth.
020 7871 3565

Join our mailing list