Four Calling Birds
A busy end to 2017 has seen us win four out of four planning applications in Camden, Islington, Hackney and Harrow.
We have got permission for a total of 1223 homes, 43810 sqm A1, 223 A4, 1525sqm B1a, 5500sqm C2, 6450 sqm D1 and at least 111000sqm open space. Homes, offices, shops, schools, care homes and restaurants. Not bad for December.
Throughout the course of the projects, months and months of work, I have been fixated on the committee night. That's when the magic happens and the hundreds of pages of technical reports can get distilled into a single question or remark from a Councillor.
Clients often want us to know the result before the night, which we only do if it is going to be bad. Even when we are certain of the merits of an application, it can just take an unfortunate slip from an officer or one member of the committee sending apologies that can scupper two years of good work.
What we do know, is that the way we approach a project - honest open discussion with politicians, officers, the community and the team - will always get the best results. There is no magic answer to winning planning consents, just the hope that your calls will be answered and emails acknowledged.
As we get closer to May 2018, discussions are going to get tougher. There will be more expected from schemes and, therefore, us. Some boroughs will be focused on a combination of non-material planning matters: retaining or taking control, the make up of the group for the next four years, the squabble for Cabinet places post election and the choosing of the new Committee chairs.
The last four years for local government have been book-ended by a disastrous financial settlement and the emerging mess of Brexit. The class of ’14 can not have expected what was to come, but what must the class of ’18 be fearful of and hoping for? By 2022 we will have had at least one new Prime Minister, Brexit (of some sort), (almost certainly) a second term for Sadiq, a new (fingers crossed) President and even a new James Bond.
Will this new generation have overseen the biggest housebuilding boom since WWII or will it have crumpled under the weight of adult social care and an uncertain economic climate?
As before, we can’t know the outcome of all of the above, but we do know that honest conversations, hard work and having an eye on what is around the corner will mean 2018 will end as well as 2017.