Archive for June 2014

Liberalising short term rentals risks a housing time bomb

Back in February the DCLG put proposals out to consultation to remove the restrictions on London property owners wishing to rent a home on short lets (90 days or less) from doing so without planning permission. This week the House of Commons backed a change to the Deregulation Bill and gave it its third reading.
The DCLG proposal has good intent but risks further overheating and distorting the central London property market. These plans have been drawn with a view to liberalising short-term rentals and giving freedom to property owners to make the most of websites which help holiday makers find alternatives to hotel accommodation in the Capital. But these plans have potentially dangerous side effects.
First, by removing planning restrictions on short terms lets the investment yield on a property balloons exponentially. Take a typical one bed flat in the West End, which might rent on the open market on a normal Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) for £500pw. The very same property listed as a short term/holiday rental can reach £500 + a night.
Instantly the property has gone from a rental return of 3% to a potential 15 %+ (even allowing for vacant periods, and additional management costs). This hugely increases the value of the investment return of such properties and will inevitably lead to a further substantial increase in the capital value of the asset, further inflating London property prices that are already at record highs.
Second, by increasing the return available to landlords, the incentive to replace stable ASTs with more lucrative nightly lets will be irresistible to many. This will serve further to hollow out communities in Central London and flood neighbourhoods with a transient population who have little or no interest in the community.
A report by Westminster City Council found that where rules are already being abused to facilitate short-term lets the impact on local communities is overwhelmingly negative.
The effects, particularly on mansion blocks, of having daily or weekly changes of occupier will be felt most closely by those who remain living in such properties as their homes. They will be faced with increased service charges for the wear and tear on lifts, corridors and common parts. They will face the noise and disturbance from those who are holidaying rather than working and it is they who will have to deal with consequences if such flats are being used as pop-up brothels, venues for sex parties and other anti-social behaviour as has already been experienced where regulations have been relaxed.
Third, as more landlords chase a return and opt for nightly lets rather than stable tenancies, the number of AST rental properties available is reduced, yet with demand remaining high rental prices inevitably rise, pushing up costs for regular residents and working families.
DCLG Ministers point to the way the internet has changed our lives since the introduction of the rules in 1970s, but the truth is that while the internet has made it easier to find a short-term tenant and therefore created greater demand for short-term lets in London, this is even more reason for keeping the rules to protect communities, not abolishing them.
This week ministers conceded this was a sensitive issue, but still chose to push ahead. Responding to concerns raised by London MPs the Solicitor-General said “…London is a super-city: it is an enormous city and it does have unique circumstances. The Government recognise the necessity of working with the London boroughs to design the provision to ensure we achieve the right balance between increasing the freedoms for Londoners and protecting London’s housing supply. We would not want that to be undermined. We are trying to ensure that speculators are not able to buy homes meant for Londoners and rent them permanently as short-term lets.”
Rightly so, at a time of great housing pressure in the UK, where we are still not building enough new homes to meet demand, adding additional pressure by removing existing homes from the rental market will only serve to add to the problem Londoners face.
If these proposals go ahead without adequate safeguards, renters will lose in higher rents; buyers will lose as prices are pushed even higher and communities will lose as they are hollowed out.
What is trumpeted as a desirable liberalisation of rules which will allow homeowners to make a little extra cash, could in fact be an ill-conceived housing time bomb. The Government has said “measures will be put in place to prevent abuse of such reforms or the permanent loss of residential accommodation” but they have yet to demonstrate how this will be achieved.

Jubilee line trains will not stop at Bond Street until December

As part of the station upgrade at Bond Street, from Monday 30th June Jubilee line train will not be stopping at Bond Street Station until December. 

This is part of a new phase of improvement works started in late April which will provide greater capacity at the station, step-free access from street to platform and an interchange with the new Crossrail station which
will be completed in 2018.

The information leaflet below provides further details

Bond Street Station Upgrade

Mayfair Neighbourhood Forum update

Update from Mike Dunn at Mayfair Local:

In January 2014, Westminster City Council formally acknowledged the designation of the Mayfair Forum, a business and residential neighbourhood forum with the statutory right to create a Neighbourhood Plan outlining general planning policies on development and land use in the neighbourhood.

To most of us, the UK planning system is a dark art. However, thanks to the Localism Act 2011, local neighbourhoods now have the power to strip away all of that ‘mystery’, and create local planning policies that can make a very real difference to their communities. This new power to create neighbourhood plans is the most fundamental change to planning policy making for a generation. It’s finally given local communities a seat in the front, alongside the local planning authority, to drive forward planning policy on a wide range of issues (see below).
To this end we have appointed Tibbalds Planning consultants who will help us undertake a study phase, collecting the views and opinions of local people on the place they would like Mayfair to be. This will then be used to develop a Neighbourhood Plan setting out how we safeguard Mayfair’s special character whilst building long-term vitality. The plan will influence across a spectrum of issues including development, conservation and public space whilst also expressing a view on matters such as licencing, air quality and traffic management.
The Neighbourhood Plan will cost in the region of £100,000 to prepare and implement. Therefore we need your help:
1. Join the forum and work with us in creating a shared vision for Mayfair.

2. Support the future success of Mayfair through making a contribution to the Neighbourhood Plan.

Joining the Forum gives members the ability to influence the future of Mayfair. This will be achieved through helping to create a Plan that reflects local needs. Once adopted the Plan will have statutory status giving local residents and businesses real power in shaping the development of our neighbourhood.
Mayfair Local is also a forum for a shared agenda on non-planning issues where businesses and residents will implement ideas to drive long term success and community vitality.
Details regarding membership can be found on the website at For corporate membership please go to
All members will receive regular updates of the forum’s progress and activities, including how to get involved in preparing the plan. In the meantime, we would also love to hear from you, so please feel free to email on and we try to answer any questions you may have.
To find out more, please come and see us at Summer in the Square in Grosvenor Square on 17th,18th and 19th July. You will have the chance to sign up, as well as share with us your views on how we can make Mayfair amazing.
Yours truly
Mike Dunn



Crossrail 2 route changes - have your say

TFL have announced that following public consultation last year, they are proposing some variations to the potential route of Crossrail 2. 

Transport for London and Network Rail are seeking your views on the revised proposals.

Crossrail 2 is the proposed high‑frequency rail line which would provide improved connections and more transport options through London and into Surrey and Hertfordshire.

For details and to share your views, please visit the tfl Crossrail 2 website

This consultation will run until Friday 25 July 2014.

Fitzroy Place Newsletter

Parts of the new development can now be seen from Nassau St. Please see the latest newsletter below for further information on the project:


Hanover Square Ticket Hall

Please see the information sheet below for the latest works update at the Hanover Square Ticket Hall site:


Mount Street Gardens Summer Fair

On Sunday 22 June a summer fair hosted by The Friends of St George's School (Hanover Square), The Grosvenor Chapel, St Georges Church (Hanover Square) and the Mayfair Library will be taking place between 12 - 4pm in Mount Street Gardens.

The fair will include Children's activities, Stalls, Food and Drink (BBQ), music and much more. Entry is free to the event and all proceeds go to acquiring IT equipment for the pupils of St George's.

Please see and share the poster below - Everyone is welcome!

Crossrail - Laing O’Rourke

On 16 June Laing O’Rourke will commence working alongside the current contractor, Bam Ferrovial Kier, at the Tottenham Court Road Crossrail Project. This is part of a two stage handover process with Laing O’Rourke taking over as the main contractor at the Western Ticket Hall at this time.

Please see the latest information sheet below for further details:


The Big Soho Clean Up

On Bank Holiday Monday a group of over 100 young people gave up their Bank Holiday and started work at 6:30am in order to help clean up the streets and other parts of Soho.

Organised by Lanre Olagoke and badged as the Big Soho Clean Up, the young people worked with Veolia, Westminster’s street cleaning contractors at various locations. I was at St Anne’s Church where we worked together to tidy up the gardens, spring clean, sweep up and plant some new flowering plants for the summer.

 In spite of the inclement weather a huge amount was achieved and the contribution was acknowledged by the distribution of certificates of achievement in the evening at a ceremony at which Patti Boulaye sang.

 I would like to express my thanks and admiration not only to all the young people but also to Lanre and Veolia and others who supported the Big Soho Clean Up. It made a noticeable difference and I hope will become a regular event.