Sadiq Khan today announced the appointment for three new deputy mayors, Val Shawcross for transport, Sophie Linden for police and crime, James Murray for housing. Additionally, it was announced that Fiona Twycross AM will chair the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority.
Khan has notably been slower to make his Mayoral appointments than his predecessor, Boris Johnson. The Tuesday after the election in 2008, Johnson had appointed four Deputy Mayors and named Sir Simon Milton as his senior adviser for housing and planning who took up the role full-time as Deputy Mayor for Policy and Planning.
Sadiq Khan has demonstrated his feminist credentials by appointing women to two of three of these key posts.
Val Shawcross, recently retired from the London Assembly after 16 years, will be his number two on transport and deputy chair of Transport for London.
Sophie Linden, deputy mayor of London Borough of Hackney and a former special adviser to David Blunkett when he was Home Secretary, will oversee the Metropolitan Police.
James Murray’s appointment to Deputy Mayor for housing will be seen as no surprise to the property industry as his involvement in Khan’s campaign started rumours some time ago. Murray will have a prominent role in delivering Khan’s pledge to build 50,000 homes a year.
Khan was quick to announce last week that he intends to fast-track scores of sites on public land for development. This announcement was made during a visit to Landmark Court, Southwark, which is owned by Transport for London and is included in its first tranche of sites revealed to the 13 major property development companies and consortiums appointed to TfL's Property Partnership Framework. In the case of Landmark Court, Khan wants to unlock the site in order to build at least 120 new homes.
Khan’s campaign pledge was for ‘all developments on public land to include at least 50 per cent affordable homes, with the same target for private developments’. However, it has been widely reported that Khan appears to be back-pedalling on this campaign pledge by stating that the policy was now a ‘strategic long-term target’. Though it is worth noting the key distinction Khan made about developing on public and private land. The new Mayor will be trying to extract as much affordable housing from developers, however the 50 per cent is an ambition, and an insistence of this in every application could bring development to a halt in the outer boroughs.
Khan, is by no-means a left-wide ideological radical. He has demonstrated by becoming Labour’s candidate for Mayor of London and running an inclusive and much lauded campaign against Zac Goldsmith that he is a savvy and innovative operator. That’s especially the case when you think of the tightrope he has had to walk in the wake of Labour’s election defeat last year under Ed Miliband, the rise of Jeremy Corbyn and being pitted against Tessa Jowell, who was the favourite to be Labour’s candidate for Mayor of London.
Murray’s appointment will no doubt concern the industry given his tough approach on developers to deliver affordable housing. However, the post of Deputy Mayor for planning vacated by Sir Eddie Lister still remains vacant and at present the structure of the decision making process and whether there will be an appointment remains uncertain.
This article was written by MPC London Associate Director, Raj Mandair.