Central London’s largest property companies have set out a plan for keeping London and with it the UK, globally competitive following Brexit, in a series of recommendations aimed at the Government, Mayor of London and local leaders.
Crucial to the plan, put forward by the WPA and sister organisation CPA, which combined represent more than 420 major property owners, developers, investors and advisors operating across central London, is a formal collaboration with the UK’s other major cities.
The 52-point Manifesto for Growth Post Brexit also warns against any major new tax and planning policies which could adversely impact business and deter investment as companies grapple with the complexities of adapting to a post EU economy.
The associations, which count five FTSE100 and nine FTSE250 companies among its members, ask that decisions on Brexit are made and announced as quickly as possible to reduce the dangers of uncertainty. Among the decisions it is looking for from the Brexit negotiations are:
- An immigration policy that gives access to global talent
- Continuing passporting rights for financial services
- Legal equivalence with the EU for financial and insurance activities
The associations also state that the decision to leave the EU means that ongoing investment in the capital’s infrastructure, housing and workspaces to accommodate its growing population must be accelerated.
James Cooksey, the Chairman of Westminster Property Association, said: “There are clearly challenges ahead, as well as opportunities, and to face these the country needs to unite and work together in the national interest. That means sharing knowledge and opportunities, making the most of the strengths of each city region and forging stronger links.
“Brexit also brings into sharper focus the need to continue investment in London if it’s to remain the pre-eminent global city. Therefore our recommendations on increasing housing supply, employment space and infrastructure delivery are critically important.”
The associations have also called for further devolution of powers in the capital in order to give the Mayor of London and councils greater say over their finances and allow them the flexibility to invest in their local areas.
Mark Ridley, the President of the City Property Association, said: “London runs a trade surplus with the rest of the world. It creates 23% of the UK’s GDP and contributes 30% of the total tax revenue. It is therefore, imperative that the capital’s importance to the UK economy is recognised as we negotiate our post-Brexit position in the world.
“It should also have a greater say on how it invests the money it raises, allowing for greater accountability locally. A strong London is good for the country, just as strong regions are good for us all, and our members are four square behind the principle that through better collaboration and coordination, we can ensure success is more widely spread than ever before.”
The five pillars of growth set out in the manifesto are:
- Pillar 1 – UK Collaboration: Aid the London property sector to work with counterparts across UK cities to increase collaboration, share knowledge and promote a greater understanding.
- Pillar 2 – London’s Role: Put London at the heart of the Brexit negotiations to ensure that its interests are understood, accepted and promoted by the UK negotiating team.
- Pillar 3 – Infrastructure and Environment: Invest in world class infrastructure and create a healthy environment for residents, employees and visitors.
- Pillar 4 – Homes and Workspaces: Provide the homes that London needs and the modern workspaces for its businesses.
- Pillar 5 – Future Workforce: Provide the skills needed to build London and to attract and grow businesses.
Professor Tony Travers of the London School of Economics and Chairman of the London Finance Commission has set out his support for the associations’ Manifesto, writing in its foreword:
“The five pillars for growth outlined in this document provide a great summary of what Whitehall, City Hall and the boroughs should, working with the property industry and other sectors, commit themselves to achieve. London is well-placed to meet both domestic and international challenges, but only if civic institutions have the power and policy to do so. “
The infrastructure urgently sought by the CWPA if London is to maintain its competitiveness includes:
- Broadband connectivity: London’s standing as a technology capital should no longer be undermined by pockets of poor digital connectivity. London should at least be in Europe’s top 10 of connected cities by 2020.
- Utilities: stronger regulation is needed to sanction underperforming utility companies that are delaying accommodation needed for business growth.
- Environment: measures to reduce harmful emissions, particularly CO2 and NOx, including promotion of sustainable growth
- Transport: investment in infrastructure and initiatives to create a truly 24-hour city with improved links between the outer boroughs and central London, in particular bringing forward Crossrail 2 during this Parliament and maximising housing and commercial density around new transport hubs.
- Housing: support for affordable housing and the private rented sector, encouraging intensification and higher densities in new development, especially around transport hubs, while protecting vital employment space.
- Training: incentives for training, especially in the construction sector, and a sufficiently flexible immigration policy for London’s key industries to recruit qualified people.
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