I was a guest of organisers David Jennings and Leigh Salter at their recent high octane @MoversShakersUK Residential Property Breakfast. A 'who’s who' of the residential property sector made an early start at the Dorchester Hotel Park Lane to hear from Deputy Mayor for Housing, Ric Blakeway, followed by an expert panel comprising Nick Jopling (Grainger); Rob Perrins (Berkeley Group); Steve Morgan (Redrow); and Steve Stone (Crest Nicholson). The panel was ably chaired by CBRE's Head of Residential, Mark Collins in a particularly fetching pinstripe suit! The top table was heaving with residential property top talent, including: Tony Pidgley (Berkeley Group); Peter Pereira-Gray (Welcome Trust); Killian Hurley (Mount Anvil); and Rob Tincknell (Battersea Power Station) to name just a few.
A number of guests remarked that Mr Blakeway has become increasingly 'Boris-like' in his intonation and mode of delivery! He provided some fascinating statistics, informing us that planning consents have been granted for 241,000 new London homes. Tony Pidgley guessed 250,000, having, as he explained, rounded up the number! In 2004 there were only 108,000 planning consents - so nearly double the number of consents have been granted, but the number of houses delivered hasn't doubled. We were told that only four boroughs build enough houses and we need to unlock the (28) others. We were also told that the Greater London Authority (GLA) is 94% there on the release of public land -they have three sites coming forward in the summer to reach 100%. He mentioned build to rent as 'a very important emerging sector'. The GLA is looking at what can be done around a public backed rental market, viewing a professionally managed rental product as part of the contribution to affordable housing.
The Deputy Mayor departed leaving the panel to debate some of the key issues. Highlights included Steve Morgan flagging the construction industry’s capacity issues and the need for more training. He also returned to his bugbear pointing out 'we can’t get on site with 40% of our land bank because of planning red tape!' Nick Jopling urged the government to encourage and enable the supply side and to ‘help a proper professional market for rental’. The panel were against a build to rent planning use class but in favour of a covenant - something the GLA set out in their supplemental planning guidance. Steve Stone suggested that the government should subsidise transport for key workers so that they can commute to work.
Susan Freeman is a Partner in our Real Estate department.