Five things we learned from the MIPIM UK property fair

The MIPIM UK property fair was held in London on 19 October. Here are five things we learned from the event:

MIPIM UK: the conference hosted at London Olympia looked at the future of planning in the capital
MIPIM UK: the conference hosted at London Olympia looked at the future of planning in the capital

1. London Plan targets for housebuilding are in line for a significant increase

Jules Pipe, London’s deputy mayor for planning, regeneration and skills, said the forthcoming London Plan update will aim to provide for 66,000 homes per annum, 17,000 more than the existing version agreed in 2015. Pipe said the draft plan, scheduled for release at the end of November, "would be looking to deliver all of that within London’s boundary". But he told Planning that the Greater London Authority would still be writing to other authorities outside the capital to explore opportunities in the wider region to help deliver London’s housing need. Pipe said the plan would not look to develop on green belt, other than derelict industrial land. Pipe said "building strong and inclusive communities" and "growing a good economy" would be the key themes of the new plan and that it would identify new opportunity areas, as well as taking forward existing ones. Nigel Evans of EG London Residential Research reported that the proportion of proposals adhering to the 35 per cent affordable housing threshold laid down in mayoral supplementary planning guidance increased from 15 per cent last year to 22 per cent so far this year. Pipe said the GLA would look to review the 35 per cent target in the early 2020s.

2. The mayor’s infrastructure cash trial will not fund all major transport schemes

Pipe also said the development rights auction model (DRAM), currently being trialled by mayoral agency Transport for London, will not produce sufficient cash for major projects like the Bakerloo Line extension. "What we need is increased devolution of property and other taxes in London. If the government has decided that it is getting out of delivering infrastructure and leaving it to land value capture from developments, that is not going to be producing enough money and schemes will be built out before they build the infrastructure," he said. Michele Dix, managing director of Crossrail 2, said the Community Infrastructure Levy has worked well in London as a funding mechanism, but that her team will be doing further work on how to capture value from a wide range of beneficiaries of the project.

3. More flexible application of the use class rules could help brownfield schemes

Louise Wyman, head of strategic land at housing and regeneration quango the Homes and Communities Agency, said changes to the use class rules could be part of more "intelligent" use of brownfield sites to regenerate cities. Wyman declined to be drawn on the "very politically hot topic" of easing restrictions on green belt land. Robert Smith, head of national strategic land at property firm Carter Jonas, called for a limited review of the green belt, but said developers should be expected to build to higher standards in exchange.

4. Labour borough control changes could upset regeneration, Tory chief warns

Nickie Aiken, leader of Conservative-controlled Westminster City Council, said possible deselection of Labour councillors and their replacement with "very left-wing candidates" in next May’s local elections could have a major impact on regeneration schemes in the capital. Aiken said there is a "move to oust" many local Labour politicians, citing reports that the London Borough of Haringey’s leader could be lose her position following a row over an estate regeneration scheme. Geoff Pearce, executive director of regeneration and development at Swan Housing Association, said many in the Labour Party believe that "regeneration equals gentrification", adding: "We need to make sure we put back as much social housing as we take away."

5. Compulsory purchase powers still have a significant role in land assembly

London deputy mayor for housing James Murray said the use of compulsory purchase order (CPO) powers must "be credible" if the Greater London Authority is to play a more active role in the land market. Murray was commenting on news that mayor Sadiq Khan is considering setting up a centre of expertise to help councils use CPO powers. He maintained that the mayor still sees CPOs as a last resort, but added: "When we have discussions with the property industry, they often come back to the question of the difficulty of getting plots that are ready to be built out. We can help by using land assembly powers."

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