Press release: Property sector calls on next London Mayor to promote development, “unleash growth” and create 400,000 new jobs

24 Apr 2024

As part of its Mayoral Manifesto, London Property Alliance also urges the successful candidate to address long-term infrastructure funding challenges for TfL and deliver a clear vision to make London a global science superpower

The London Property Alliance (“LPA”), which represents the capital’s leading real estate developers and investors, has called on the next Mayor of London to utilise their powers over planning, economic development and transport to realise central London’s potential for growth and drive employment.

Charles Begley, Chief Executive, London Property Alliance, said: “This Mayoral Election comes at a critical moment as we need to jumpstart the economy and ensure London retains its position as a leading global city amid fierce competition to attract world-class businesses and talent.

“There is a huge opportunity to unleash growth in central London by adopting a more flexible and balanced approach to planning. This would accelerate the delivery of the modern, sustainable office and research space demanded by leading businesses and their employees – as well as unlocking billions of pounds in developer contributions to help address the generational challenges we face around affordable housing and sustainability.

“More broadly, we must look properly at how we fund infrastructure after the Government’s decision to shelve the HS2 terminal at Euston and de-prioritise other major projects. The capital should be leading the way in establishing a new model for devolution that can be replicated across the country, and if we are serious about attracting more visitors and workers back to central London we need to secure a sustainable funding package for TfL instead of relying on short-term sticking plasters.”

Ahead of next month’s Mayoral election, with the UK experiencing an economic downturn and London facing competition for investment and talent from global rivals, the LPA is calling on the next Mayor to:

Introduce a new flexible approach to planning in central London

A more flexible approach to development is needed across the Central Activities Zone: an area covering just 2.2% of Greater London’s landmass, that spans most of Westminster and the City of London plus Canary Wharf and its neighbouring districts. This geographical and commercial heart of the capital accounts for 48% of London’s annual economic output (GVA) and supports 41% of total jobs.

New analysis undertaken by Arup for the LPA shows that a planning approach that balances heritage and sustainability with the economic factors and the need to drive growth for the CAZ+ district, could enable 40.7m sq ft of additional workspace, 4.7m sq ft of new retail, and 6.5m sq ft of hotel accommodation to be delivered in this area over the next two decades. This could support 407,200 new jobs.

Secure long-term funding for TfL

The next Mayor must secure a long-term funding package for TfL to ensure that the network is equipped to handle increasing passenger numbers and support the return of more workers and visitors to central London.

The LPA highlights that the £250m capital funding provided by Government for 2024/5 still leaves uncertainty as to how TfL will fund its planned £1.9bn annual capital investment over the next three years, with major improvement works such as the much-needed £500m Central Line Improvement Programme in jeopardy.

The latest data from the LPA’s Global Cities Survey found that under-investment in New York’s subway system has meant ridership remains at 70% of pre-pandemic levels, versus 84% in London, which has contributed to an increase in Manhattan office vacancy (to 22%).

Address infrastructure funding challenges

The decision by the Government to abandon the HS2 terminus at Euston raises questions as to how major infrastructure projects will be delivered in London.

Fiscal devolution for London would create stronger incentives for economic growth and help provide the resources for further infrastructure investment, as was demonstrated by the Elizabeth line and Northern line extension to Battersea Nine Elms. The Alliance calls on the next Mayor to work with his or her fellow city leaders across the country to help secure a lasting and stable fiscal devolution deal with the next national government.

Ensure London fulfils its potential as a science superpower

London’s property industry body argues that the next Mayor should build on the success of London’s life science districts in the Knowledge Quarter (King’s Cross / Euston), White City, Whitechapel, Sutton (Southwark / Lambeth) and the Docklands (Canary Wharf and Canada Water) to establish the capital as a leading global centre for research and innovation.

We need a new strategic vision to support the growth of the capital’s life sciences sector and develop world-leading science clusters by unlocking collaboration between academic institutions, healthcare and business.

The LPA is also calling on intervention from the next Mayor to address the planning bottleneck with 2.6m sq ft of lab space currently awaiting a planning decision.

Read the report here