Engage Communicate Facilitate - An analysis of Sadiq Khan's mayoralty 2016-2020 - engage. communicate. facilitate - ECF

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Engage Communicate Facilitate - An analysis of Sadiq Khan's mayoralty 2016-2020 - engage. communicate. facilitate - ECF
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Engage Communicate Facilitate - An analysis of Sadiq Khan's mayoralty 2016-2020 - engage. communicate. facilitate - ECF
Four years ago, Sadiq Khan became the Mayor of London, having defeated the Conservative
candidate, Zac Goldsmith, by a convincing margin, after a fractious and fraught election
campaign. After eight years of Conservative rule under Boris Johnson, London returned a
Labour Mayor who promised to focus his entire energy at the job in hand, in stark contrast to his
extremely ambitious predecessor.

It would be fair to say the name Sadiq Khan evokes mixed emotions within the property
industry. There was a perception that under Johnson’s administration, the door was always
open, and members of his team, particularly Sir Edward Lister, were accessible to developers
who wished to discuss their aspirations for a site or project. Under Khan the perception has
been the door is firmly closed. The Mayor and his team do not seem comfortable in the
company of developers or their consultants, and some complain that the lack of policy direction
from City Hall has contributed to drift and inertia in terms of driving up housing delivery.

There may well be some element of truth in that, but what does the data say? To a large extent
it is possible to find a piece of data to justify any preconceived opinion about the current
Mayor’s record. According to the statistics, the proportion of large housing schemes made up of
affordable homes has ticked up from the position the Mayor inherited, and he has used his call-
in powers to drive up affordable housing numbers on several projects across London. However,
overall housing starts and completions, despite being up on his predecessor, have fallen short
of original aspirations. The draft London Plan is also stalled and the Mayor finds himself at
loggerheads with the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government with
little prospect of resolving fundamental differences.

Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mayor has an additional year at City Hall but diminishing
latitude to effect real change in housing delivery numbers. When the election comes in 2021,
he will be standing on the record of the last four years. Had the election been held on 7 May
2020, there is little doubt that, despite the mixed reception for the Mayor in developer circles, he
would have won re-election and a further four years at City Hall.

It is within that context that we have put together this paper reviewing Khan’s four years in
office, whilst also drawing some conclusions on how the next year in politics may impact on his
re-election chances.

We also look at what a second term Khan administration might seek to a achieve with a focus
on housing and infrastructure development. This is our view, and you will have yours. One thing
we can all agree on is that the last four years have been extremely interesting to observe from
a political perspective. The next year, and the four after that will make for interesting viewing as

Oliver Deed
Director, ECF
Engage Communicate Facilitate - An analysis of Sadiq Khan's mayoralty 2016-2020 - engage. communicate. facilitate - ECF
The next Mayoral and London Assembly elections were due to be held on 7th May 2020. Due
to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, these electoral races along with others across the country
have been postponed by the UK Government until May 2021 on the advice of the Electoral
Commission [1].

                  Left to right: Shaun Bailey, Siobhan Benita, Sian Berry, Sadiq Khan

At the moment four candidates have declared to stand in the postponed London Mayoral
election including incumbent Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (Labour), Shaun Bailey
(Conservatives), Siobhan Benita (Liberal Democrats) and Sian Berry (Green). Former
Conservative MP, Rory Stewart (now Independent) was a candidate for the 2020 race but pulled
out on 6th May 2020.

With Sadiq Khan 25 points clear of second placed Shaun Bailey according to the most recent
YouGov poll and the bookies strong favourite now it was all but certain that he would be elected
to serve a second term this May, winning in a landslide [2]. However, while a Khan victory
remains the most likely outcome in 2021 given the current lead, a lot can change in a year as
recent events have demonstrated. Even the recent withdrawal of Rory Stewart from the race
could have an impact, with centre-right inclined voters getting behind Shaun Bailey.

Khan’s Mayoralty has been shaped by a number of notable events such as the Westminster
terror attack, Grenfell Tower tragedy and Extinction Rebellion protects. With the election
postponed, lockdown provides an opportunity to reflect on Sadiq Khan’s first term of Mayor
of London from a housing perspective, the current state of play and what we can expect to
happen moving forward in light of the decision to push the race back.
Engage Communicate Facilitate - An analysis of Sadiq Khan's mayoralty 2016-2020 - engage. communicate. facilitate - ECF
What did Khan promise?
Sadiq Khan beat his Conservative rival Zac Goldsmith to the Mayoralty in 2016 winning 44.2% of
the vote to Goldsmith’s 35% in the first round and 57% to 43% in the second round.

Receiving a strong mandate, housing and infrastructure delivery were at the forefront of Khan’s
manifesto, with a focus on genuinely affordable social rents, London Living Rent and ‘part-buy,
part-rent’ housing.

                                    Pledges included[3]:

                                    •   Tackling London’s housing crisis by building
                                        thousands more homes each year, with 50 per cent of
                                        new homes being genuinely affordable

                                    •   A new ‘Homes for Londoners’ team tasked with
                                        building homes on land owned by the Mayor.

                                    •   Support for Councils to enforce “clear, new rules to
                                        maximise affordable housing in new developments”

                                    •   Estate regenerations to only take place with resident

                                    •   Protection of the Green Belt and prioritization of
                                        brownfield sites

                                    •   Putting “good design and sustainability at the heart of
                                        the London Plan”

Has he delivered?
An initial success was the £10 million ‘Homes for Londoners’ team established at City Hall,
ensuring the seeing through of the manifesto pledge. The team was set up to facilitate
collaboration between the Mayor of London, local councils, housing associations and
developers. Work is overseen by the Homes for Londoners Board, comprised of public-private
sector expertise. As part of this drive, Sadiq Khan secured £4.8 billion from the UK Government
ro help build 116,000 affordable homes by 2022.

Engage Communicate Facilitate - An analysis of Sadiq Khan's mayoralty 2016-2020 - engage. communicate. facilitate - ECF
On planning related issues, Khan has left his mark, overseeing the publication of the Affordable
Housing and Viability SPG adopted in August 2017[4], which established the fast track route.
He also introduced estate regeneration ballots on schemes proposing 150 or more homes if
they are to receive GLA funding[5] – both of which align with promises made in his original

He has stood firm against a panel of inspectors’ recommendation for a green belt review as part
of the next London Plan review, upholding his promise in this area [6]. However, it remains to
be seen whether he might have to compromise on this position in order to get his London Plan

On housing delivery, according to UK Gov figures, 37,000 homes per annum have been
completed in Khan’s tenure, which is below target [7]. However, completions during his term
in office have exceeded the levels he inherited from his predecessor [8]. There is no doubt the
increase in completions will be trumpeted as a key Khan achievement when the 2021 election
campaign kicks off.

Further progress by Sadiq Khan has been slowed by delays in the London Plan; the planning
document that sets the framework for building in the capital for at least a decade.

Last year he said he wanted to build 65,000 new homes a year to keep up with demand from
London’s rapidly rising population, but during the drafting of the new London Plan he was
forced to reduce this target to 52,000 a year in line with recommendations from planning
inspectors [9].

The London Plan: a tortured process

Engage Communicate Facilitate - An analysis of Sadiq Khan's mayoralty 2016-2020 - engage. communicate. facilitate - ECF
For many the process of bringing forward new London Plan has appeared to be a tortured
process; public consultation commenced in December 2017 and it is still not adopted.

Sadiq Khan wrote to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government,
Robert Jenrick MP with an intention to Publish the London Plan in December 2019 [10]. A
response was received on 13th March this year with various different directions [11].

Robert Jenrick has blocked the the adoption of the London Plan until “significant
improvements” have been made. Criticisms included an alleged “over-restrictive stance” on the
release of industrial land for residential development, a focus on “one-bed flats at the expense
of all else” and too rigid an approach to proposed development on green belt and metropolitan
open land. There were also wider criticisms about the complexity of the Plan and the Mayor’s
housing delivery record.

                               Left to right: Robert Jenrick, Sadiq Khan

 “Your Plan added layers of complexity that will make development more difficult
 unnecessarily; with policies on things as small as bed linen. Prescription to this degree makes
 the planning process more cumbersome and difficult to navigate; in turn meaning less
 developments come forward and those that do progress slowly. One may have sympathy
 with some of individual policies in your Plan, but in aggregate this approach is inconsistent
 with the pro-development stance we should be taking and ultimately only serves to make
 Londoners worse off.”

                                          Robert Jenrick in response to Sadiq Khan, March 2020

It is unlikely that a revised version of the Intention to Publish Plan with modifications will come
quickly in current context defined by COVID-19. Given postponement of election, there is now
a window of opportunity in next six months, in which time it is more likely that improvements
will be made.

Ultimately, compromise is likely to happen in order to ensure adoption of the plan with less of a
reluctancy to make changes on industrial land, density and housing mix rather than the Green
Belt, which remains politically totemic.

Engage Communicate Facilitate - An analysis of Sadiq Khan's mayoralty 2016-2020 - engage. communicate. facilitate - ECF
Planning decisions
Since 2016, 10 applications in London have been outright refused via Mayoral Direction by Sadiq
Khan, including seven in Conservative boroughs, two in Labour boroughs and a single scheme
in the City of London; the highly controversial Tulip, which was criticised on the grounds of
inappropriate height and design.

Of the schemes refused, four of them were due to inappropriate development on Green Belt
land or in Metropolitan Open Land and four due to the lack of affordable housing.

In addition to Mayoral Direction, 18 applications have been called in during Sadiq Khan’s first
term and subject to a public hearing. Of the applications, 15 have been determined and, at the
time of writing, three are awaiting their hearing (Bishopsgate Goodsyard, Homebase Manor
Road and 5 Kingdom Street) [12].

Of the call-ins decided, eight applications have been in Conservative boroughs and seven
in Labour boroughs. All were refused by the original planning authority and overturned
for approval, with the exception of the VIP Trading Estate, the initial decision to refuse by
Greenwich Council being upheld on the grounds of scale. Notable call-ins which were
overturned for approval included Osiers Road (Wandsworth), the Former Biscuit Factory
(Southwark) and Beam Park (Havering).

In the majority of instances, call-ins have been used to improve these schemes, in most cases
increasing affordable housing and the number of residential units.

 Scheme                          Borough                      Borough              Khan Decision
 Former Biscuit Factory          Southwark                    Refuse               Approve
 100 West Cromwell Road          Kensington & Chelsea         Refuse               Approve
 Kidbrooke Station               Greenwich                    Refuse               Approve
 Osiers Road                     Wandsworth                   Refuse               Approve
 Pentavia Retail Park            Barnet                       Refuse               Approve
 Kensington Forum Hotel          Kensington & Chelsea         Refuse               Approve
 VIP Trading Estate              Greenwich                    Refuse               Refuse
 Eynsham Drive                   Greenwich                    Refuse               Approve
 Beam Park                       Havering                     Refuse               Approve
 Newcombe House                  Kensington & Chelsea         Refuse               Approve
 Citroen Site                    Hounslow                     Refuse               Approve
 Natonal Institute of Medi-      Barnet                       Refuse               Approve
 cal Research
 Homebase, Swandon Way,          Wandsworth                   Refuse               Approve
 Hale Wharf                      Haringey                     Refuse               Approve
Palmerstone Road                 Harrow                       Refuse               Approve
                 Applications subject to public hearing during Sadiq Khan’s Mayoralty

What can change?
Between now and May 2021, anything can happen. National politics will play a key role in defin-
ing the Mayoral election when it does finally take place. At the time of writing, we believe the
following issues will have a bearing on the outcome:

•   The Government’s performance in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic. If the Government
    is perceived to have performed well, that could be a boost to Bailey’s candidacy. Equally, the
    perception of a poor performance will damage the Conservative candidate.

•   The fallout from a massive fiscal expansion by Government and a sharp recession across the
    entirety of the UK economy and particularly in the financial and services industry – this will
    hit London hard and it is likely the Government will be blamed for it in the long-run.

•   The outcome of negotiations with the EU to avoid the cliff-edge in December 2020. If the
    negotiations were to conclude without a deal in December 2020, it is highly likely that the
    short term fall out would be significant and increase the turmoil in the economy.

•   Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership of Labour. If Starmer has a successful 12 months, it boosts
    Khan’s chances of re-election. Should Labour continue to perform poorly in the opinion
    polls, it will inevitably give hope to Bailey backers.

•   New candidates entering the race such as former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid Javid

While Sadiq Khan has faced a number of challenges during his time as Mayor, not least the
delaying of the London Plan, barring a miracle, he should win next May with an increased vote
share. Not only is he ahead in the polls, but he will likely be bolstered by the recent change in
the Labour Party’s leadership.

With the Mayoral race expected to re-commence towards the close of 2020, there will be
increasing scrutiny and focus on Khan’s pledges for his next term. We have so far heard policies
around making London carbon neutral by 2030, introducing rent controls, completion of the
Elizabeth line and a push for more devolution from Westminster. On housing, the focus is
likely to remain on getting the London Plan over the line and driving up completion numbers.
Whether this can be achieved during an extended period of social distancing is yet to be seen.

1.   Electoral Commission, Statement on the UK Government’s decision to postpone
     May’s polls, March 2020, https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/media-centre/state-

2.   YouGov, The London Mayoral Race: Sadiq leads the pack, March 2020, https://yougov.

3.   Sadiq Khan and London Labour, Sadiq Khan for London: A Manifesto for all Lon
     doners, March 2016

4. Mayor of London, Homes for Londoners: Affordable Housing and Viability SPG, Au
   gust 2017, https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/ah_viability_spg_20170816.pdf

5.   London.gov.uk, Estate Regeneration, July 2018, https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/

6. Mayor of London, Response to Inspectors’ recommendations, December 2019, https://

7.   Evening Standard, London housing crisis:affordability of homes named ‘top priority’for
     next Mayor — as Tories accuse Sadiq Khan of slow progress, March 2020, https://www.

8. Inside Housing, Fact check: did Boris Johnson ‘massively outbuild Labour’ as Lon
   don mayor?, November 2019, https://www.insidehousing.co.uk/insight/insight/fact-

9. Planning Resource, Khan ‘defends London Plan housing targets and green belt
   stance’, November 2019, https://www.planningresource.co.uk/article/1665451/khan-de-

10. London.gov.uk, The London Plan – Intend to Publish version, December 2019, https://

11. London.gov.uk, Secretary of State’s response, March 2020, https://www.london.gov.uk/

12. London.gov.uk, Public Hearings, Accessed May 2020, https://www.london.gov.uk/what-

Oliver Deed
Will Hamill
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