London Property Alliance (the umbrella name for joint activities by WPA and CPA) attended Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham to campaign on key issues for Central London’s built environment.
We hosted a roundtable lunch on Monday afternoon on the topic of ‘Connecting the UK: Funding, Delivering and Integrating Transport Infrastructure in post-Brexit Britain’. Organised with Sheffield Property Association and in partnership with Transport for London and Transport for the North, this fringe event brought together industry leaders, Conservative MPs and policymakers to discuss the vital role connectivity plays in driving UK growth and prosperity.
We discussed the need for innovative funding models, further devolution and supporting regional transport projects such as Crossrail 2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail. Our guests included Bim Afolami MP (Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Department for Transport), Michèle Dix CBE (Managing Director of Crossrail 2), Barry White (CEO of Transport for the North) and former Transport Ministers Stephen Hammond MP and Steve Norris.
Our next discussion with local government leaders early on Wednesday was on Good Growth, which opened with a presentation by Professor Tony Travers, from LSE London, who provided an overview of an increase in public distrust of politics and cynicism towards development. This was attended by the de facto leader of the City of London Corporation, Catherine McGuinness, Deputy Leader of Westminster City Council, Cllr David Harvey, and senior representation from other surrounding boroughs.
This breakdown in trust has been driven by a sense of inequity by communities either feeling unable to afford their own homes or achieve security of tenure, and the apparent opaque and adversarial nature of planning. The Chief Executive of the RPTI (Royal Town Planning Institute) Victoria Hills called for greater investment in planning departments and a step change in the role of planning, which for many people was their primary interface with their local council, and therefore a frontline service.
On Wednesday morning, there was also a Westminster City Council fringe event about ‘delivering the right kind of homes’ supported by WPA. The panel discussion included Kit Malthouse MP (Housing, Communities & Local Government Minister), Cllr Nickie Aiken (Leader of the City Council) and Olivia Harris (WPA Board members and Chief Executive of Dolphin Living).