Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

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60 Seconds: The rise of the Yimby

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The rise of the Yimby

Morning,

Those of you that work in the housing/development sector will know all about NIMBYs.

But how many of you have heard about YIMBYs?

They’re just as passionate, enthused and angry as your traditional NIMBY.

“Yes in my backyard”  is a rapidly growing movement, consisting mostly of young people but by no means limited to youngsters.

A recent paper by John Myers of London YIMBY points out that the alternative of development is economic stagnation, social divide, and even political turmoil.

f04cae28-de35-4cf7-8e0e-3cbb397781deThe report suggests ways in which developers could win the support of existing homeowners for new proposals. After all, others will remember when the house they lived in was a nice green field too.

It raises the question: “why do existing homeowners wield all the power?”

Answer: 1. They vote and 2. they understand how to influence the system.

Younger people are especially angry at not being able to afford their own homes until they reach their thirties and are making it known, but they don’t know how to turn that anger into influence. So what do we do? At Curtin&Co we take the proposals to them and help them navigate the incomprehensible planning system so that they can make their voices heard.

Can you imagine the planning committee where councillors are afraid of turning down proposals instead of the usual fear of voting in favour of them? The tide is turning…

Have a good weekend,

Tom


Developers targeted
London mayor targets developers over affordable housing obligations

The wealth of housing?
Housing wealth will be crucial in plugging the pensions gap

Steady as she goes
House price growth holding steady

When is affordable actually affordable?
London mayor sets out new rules for affordable housing

Department for the housing crisis?
Jeremy Corbyn plans team to tackle housing crisis

Fast-track housing
London mayor pledges fast-track permissions for affordable housing

The Brexit Effect
Mapped: How house prices have changed in every London borough since the Brexit vote

And finally….

The 10 best jokes from the Edinburgh fringe

This week at Curtin&Co

Curtin&Co was delighted to be part of the project team which gained consent for the development of 144 homes in East Bergholt by Countryside. The application was approved at Planning Committee by 12 votes to 2. Emma Woods from Countryside development said: “Martin and his team with their quick responsiveness and knowledge of the site and area were an integral part of the team.” Congratulations!


Curtin&Co specialises in the fields of Community Consultation and Political Engagement, especially around development, and Reputation & Crisis Management.

Curtin&Co has grown rapidly to a team of over 20 highly qualified political, community engagement and reputation management specialists, having been founded by Tom Curtin in 2009.  In 2016, Curtin&Co was delighted to be listed in PR Week’s Top 150 Public Relations consultancies at number 86 and in the Top 10 Public Affairs consultancies at number 8; a recognition of the quality of the service and growth achieved.

To find out more visit www.curtinandco.com or call Helen Barrett on 0207 399 2288


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60 Seconds: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Afternoon,

In the old days of cinema, actresses would sport a beauty spot to highlight their charms. (Nowadays I believe they’re called zits.)

But today the term is more associated with beautiful landscapes (i.e. all of the UK is beautiful if you’re to believe CPRE who can see beauty in a landfill site.)

e84bfc24-824f-4322-996e-c037d67eea96Take the decision by Tower Hamlets this week to refuse permission for thousands of new homes on the Isle of Dogs, that well-known beauty spot nestled next to the quaint hamlet of Canary Wharf.

The reasoning behind the objectors is to preserve green space on the island (which isn’t being built on) not to mention that most valuable of community assets, a petrol station (although that’s a lot more useful than the obligatory “community centre” most unimaginative councils ask for in the sleepy shires).

In addition, and I’m not joking, objectors complained the new towers would obscure the view of Canary Wharf. The person who can obliterate these views should be given an immediate peerage say, Baron Block of Towers.

All this comes as the CPRE released its annual green belt under siege report, which grimly asks us to stuff our towns and cities with more homes on brownfield sites or lose every blade of grass.

So what are we going to do? Is it brownfield first or green belt release? Or, is it no field (or petrol station), ever, anywhere?

Or nothing.

Have a good weekend,

Tom


Requires improvement!
Epsom and Ewell Borough Council could be stripped of planning powers because it refused too many major planning applications

Stamping on housing 
Stamp duty causing bottleneck in housing market, report says

Time-limited tenancies
If social housing is precious, tenancies should be time-limited

Rise in homelessness 
We’re on the verge of a huge increase of homeless people in the UK

Repossessions fall 
Home repossessions drop amid low interest rates

Yes In My Back Yard?
Forget Nimbys. Yimby housing policy can transform the UK – with the political will

And Finally…

Desperate press release of the day


Curtin&Co specialises in the fields of Community Consultation and Political Engagement, especially around development, and Reputation & Crisis Management.

Curtin&Co has grown rapidly to a team of over 20 highly qualified political, community engagement and reputation management specialists, having been founded by Tom Curtin in 2009.  In 2016, Curtin&Co was delighted to be listed in PR Week’s Top 150 Public Relations consultancies at number 86 and in the Top 10 Public Affairs consultancies at number 8; a recognition of the quality of the service and growth achieved.

To find out more visit www.curtinandco.com or call Helen Barrett on 0207 399 2288


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60 Second: How your house can be a tax dodger

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How your house can be a tax dodger,

The super rich love buying houses in London; not that they live in them – they’ve got super yachts, houses in Palm Springs and Monaco for that.

But buying a house can be a great way to avoid tax. First, you need a good accountant and lawyer. And, of course, it’s vital that you keep your identity secret; they’ll see to that.

Having never engaged in this activity myself (I pay up and shut up) I don’t fully know how these tax havens work but here’s my attempt at explaining.

It’s quite easy really.

Step 1. Set up a company in Panama.

Step 2. Take out a huge loan against a company you own registered in the UK.

Step 3. You then have to set up a subsidiary for your company in Panama and transfer the loan interest payment to the first company you have set up in Panama.

Step 4. You then have to set up another company in Switzerland which will be responsible for ensuring that any business interests in Europe first have their profits diverted to the UK, to take advantage of the capital spending allowances.

Step 5. You need to bill excess profits to the second company in Panama.

If you’re getting a bit lost at this stage, don’t worry the top legal and accountancy firms come – at an appropriate fee, of course.

Step 6. The second Panama company then has to bill the first for mortgage interest payments to further reduce profit owed. This will offset against losses capital but not account day-to-day losses in Europe. For which you have to build another complex web of structures.

It’s simple if you understand it….. Which I don’t pretend to.

e56457e6-f623-4ad3-aa6e-01d37fefab89The advantage of this for those that can afford it is that they pay less tax and they can often use these vehicles to conceal ownership.

For those of us who live in more modest accommodation, the cost of fees easily outweighs the tax advantage. So I’ll just have to pay up.

Surely there needs to be some sort of transparency as to who owns what.

A transparent national register of ownership is what is needed. Politicians love talking about transparency. Hopefully, we will see it in action.

Frighteningly, I think I’m beginning to think like Jeremy Corbyn.

Have a good weekend.

Tom


Transparency Required
Information commissioner calls on landlords to publish fire risk assessments

March of the YIMBYs
Housing is a growing political problem for the Conservatives

Help to buy reviewed
Housebuilders’ shares plunge as reports say end of Help to Buy on the table in Government review

Modest housing?
Barratt forecasts ‘modest’ house building growth

Green Belt on the line
Green belt expected to be targeted by Sajid Javid’s house-building plans


Curtin&Co specialises in the fields of Community Consultation and Political Engagement, especially around development, and Reputation & Crisis Management.

Curtin&Co has grown rapidly to a team of over 20 highly qualified political, community engagement and reputation management specialists, having been founded by Tom Curtin in 2009.  In 2016, Curtin&Co was delighted to be listed in PR Week’s Top 150 Public Relations consultancies at number 86 and in the Top 10 Public Affairs consultancies at number 8; a recognition of the quality of the service and growth achieved.

To find out more visit www.curtinandco.com or call Helen Barrett on 0207 399 2288


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60 Second: The European Conundrum

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tom3c70f0c3ca84

Afternoon,

Samsung has announced that its new European HQ will be in Germany – not Britain as originally planned.

Why? Because young people – who they are trying to attract – will have more money in Frankfurt than London.

But why are Samsung and others shying away from Great Britain?

Because the cost of buying and renting is cheaper. So young people will have more disposable income.

When I first came to London in 1974, there was a massive recession, house prices were high and rented accommodation was almost impossible to find.

And in forty years little has changed.

The short answer is basic economics. Too much demand and not enough supply. Regular readers will know that I have ranted a lot about how the supply of housing is artificially constrained due to the quagmire that is known as the planning process.

This is particularly so in relation to release of land – especially the holy land known as the Green Belt.

2ead184b-e60c-4ff2-8270-06a385bb18f0Recently, there has been increased focus on the super-rich and how they use housing to store up property like gold bars which just increase in value.

But we need radical solutions.

Here’s one. Remember China’s one child policy; I would propose a one house policy. Every individual should only be allowed to own one house in the UK until we bring the housing crisis under control. Landlords would have to sell off their excess houses at the market price. Businesses would be exempt but would have to pay an additional levy which would go directly into building new houses. An additional levy would also be charged on houses that are unoccupied after a grace period.

When and if the housing crisis is finally solved, we can phase out this policy and steadily increase the number of houses landlords are allowed to own as well as reduce the levy.

An advantage of this policy is that it would provide an incentive to the 123 MPs, almost 30% of the Conservative and Liberal Democrats who are landlords, to get a move on.

Politicians are always saying China is the future and we need to look to it. Maybe they’re right.

Will this happen? I wouldn’t bet my house on it.

Have a good weekend,

Tom


Knock them down says Minister
Most new buildings should be knocked down because they are ugly, says HayesLeasehold on final lease of life 
Javid to announce leasehold changes and crackdown on unfair ground rents

Peppercorn rents?
Ground rents will be restricted to “peppercorn” levels

Recent government report found 1 in 5 homes are leasehold
Leasehold ban proposed for sale of new houses

‘If housebuilders will not step off the gravy train, I will derail it’ – Sajid Javid 
Developers are using ground rent as an “unjustifiable licence to print money”

Javid told leasehold reforms don’t go far enough 
What about us, Mr Javid? Your leasehold reforms don’t go far enough say families still trapped in their homes

Javid appoints Grenfell task force 
Sajid Javid appoints Grenfell task force to run fire recovery

We need help now
At least ten councils have now begged Sajid Javid for ‘Grenfell’ cash to fix dangerous buildings

And Finally…

Parliament released new photos of every MP and people are giving them imaginative back stories


Curtin&Co specialises in the fields of Community Consultation and Political Engagement, especially around development, and Reputation & Crisis Management.

Curtin&Co has grown rapidly to a team of over 20 highly qualified political, community engagement and reputation management specialists, having been founded by Tom Curtin in 2009.  In 2016, Curtin&Co was delighted to be listed in PR Week’s Top 150 Public Relations consultancies at number 86 and in the Top 10 Public Affairs consultancies at number 8; a recognition of the quality of the service and growth achieved.

To find out more visit www.curtinandco.com or call Helen Barrett on 0207 399 2288


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60 Second: London’s Calling

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tom3c70f0c3ca84

Morning,

London is one of the greatest cities in the globe. Sure, it may not have as many beaches as I’d I like, but even I couldn’t resist the charm and bright lights when I was younger.

Like today tourists would flock from across the world to see the world famous sights, but back then there was a major difference, it didn’t cost an arm and a leg to have fun.

In those days I could have bought a house after saving for a year on a standard graduate salary. Now, a victim of its own success, London is one of the most expensive places in the world. That’s fine if you’re working as a top lawyer, banker, or have wealthy parents….but young graduates cannot afford to live in London and enjoy themselves.

They’re also completely priced out of many areas like Mayfair and Kensington.

Many young people have left the capital so they can afford a house larger than a box and have the luxury of a garden. Although a major concern it’s not just the property and rent prices, even the cost of living is very expensive. Employers are beginning to recognise this and are moving jobs out of London.

Samsung has decided not to set up its European headquarters in London because the city is “not a fun place to live unless you are really rich”. Instead they’ve set up in the city of Berlin and have taken their $150m (£117m) technology fund with them.

If this continues London could lose vital skilled jobs and the tax receipts that come with them. Ironically, this would actually reduce house prices and cost of living.

As young people have left London, the politicians haven’t really sat up and taken notice. I suspect businesses leaving will cause more of a stir.

Have a good weekend.

Tom


L&G Kick Off Modular Factory
First ‘prefab’ homes due at Leeds factory

IDS Take On Social Housing
Former-Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, demands a “revolutionary” approach to social housing

K&C In New Grenfell Fallout
Kensington and Chelsea made more than £50m in s106 affordable housing payments


Curtin&Co specialises in the fields of Community Consultation and Political Engagement, especially around development, and Reputation & Crisis Management.

Curtin&Co has grown rapidly to a team of over 20 highly qualified political, community engagement and reputation management specialists, having been founded by Tom Curtin in 2009.  In 2016, Curtin&Co was delighted to be listed in PR Week’s Top 150 Public Relations consultancies at number 86 and in the Top 10 Public Affairs consultancies at number 8; a recognition of the quality of the service and growth achieved.

To find out more visit www.curtinandco.com or call Helen Barrett on 0207 399 2288


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60 Seconds: Oh Jeremy Corbyn!

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tom3c70f0c3ca84

Afternoon,

We were delighted to have Katie Perrior as our guest speaker at our annual House of Lords bash on Tuesday. As you all know, or should know, she was Mrs May’s Director of Communications until April when she wisely decided to resign.

Among the many insights she gave us was that of life at Number 10 and particularly on housing and the ‘ongoing crisis’.

When I landed in Liverpool in 1974 in a battered Ford Escort, with a wife and a beautiful daughter, it was everything I had in the world. I had a job in London but nowhere to live. (This is pre Airbnb days). But my kind cousin Mary put me up and I eventually found a place to rent.

Now this wasn’t easy as there were rent controls in place which meant I could go to a tribunal and have my rent halved.

Naturally this led to a large number of landlords taking their properties off the market and a dearth of privately rented properties. I didn’t go to the tribunal as the flat was owned by a friend of a friend.

My salary was £2,500 – about £23,000 in today’s money and my wife did not work.

8229ac1e-d0fc-4051-be39-aa63fa98fb1dAfter three or so years my salary had risen to £4,000 – not much of a rise really as we had 30 per cent inflation and a pay freeze thanks to that great socialist Jim Callaghan.

These were rough times – the IMF were trying to save the economy, the telly was on at 10.30 (which for a young couple was a sort of blessing), everyone was on strike.

And that is what ‘Oh Jeremy Corbyn’ is offering us again.

And people are buying it. But why? Because nobody remembers the 70s (anyone who remembered the 60s definitely missed the party).

By 1977 I was on a salary of £4,000 and I decided it was time to try and own a property. So I went off to the building society and met the manager (the sort of chap who wore a bowler hat).

“How do I stand for a mortgage,” I asked.

“Mr Curtin,” he said “you don’t stand, you kneel. What you need is to save with us for a year and build up a 10 percent deposit. Then we will consider a mortgage for you.”

So for a year we scrimped and saved – I didn’t have one take-away meal in that year and discovered more than 50 recipes for minced meat.

And the building society was true to its word – a year later I was offered me a 90 per cent mortgage on a lovely two bedroom maisonette with a nice back garden in Harrow. All at the outrageous price of £9,950.

But just before I exchanged, I was offered a dream job in Dublin, so I walked away.

Two questions for you:

1. How much is it worth now? I daren’t think

2. Could you envisage the same scenario today?

So when young people sing: “Oh Jeremy Corbyn” you can understand why.

He is offering that most precious of gifts: hope.

And in the 1970s – despite the economic disaster- there was hope not fear

Have a good weekend,

Tom


Housing stock falls
Number of homes on the market falls to a new low with housing market ‘stifled’ by uncertainty, says Rics

London house prices keep falling
No let-up in falling London house prices, say chartered surveyors

Legalised extortion? 
One MPs verdict on house builders who sell houses but keep the freehold

Met fights cuts with £1bn property sales
Met police sold £1bn of property to soften blow of budget cuts

Building for the future 
Sadiq Khan announces £1.7bn deal to build 50,000 affordable homes across London

Too expensive to have fun?
Samsung rejects London over Berlin for new HQ because ‘it’s not fun unless you’re really rich’

Housing the homeless 
Housing people fast is five times cheaper than homelessness – here’s why

Barratt keeps building
Barratt to build more houses as profits move higher

And finally…

French army band plays Daft Punk to Trump and Macron

This week at Curtin&Co

Curtin&Co was delighted to be part of the project team which gained consent for two planning applications this week for Parsons Construction in Eastleigh. The first was a detail consent for 27 new homes while the second, hybrid application was an outline consent for 34 homes and detailed consent for four office buildings


Curtin&Co specialises in the fields of Community Consultation and Political Engagement, especially around development, and Reputation & Crisis Management.

Curtin&Co has grown rapidly to a team of over 20 highly qualified political, community engagement and reputation management specialists, having been founded by Tom Curtin in 2009.  In 2016, Curtin&Co was delighted to be listed in PR Week’s Top 150 Public Relations consultancies at number 86 and in the Top 10 Public Affairs consultancies at number 8; a recognition of the quality of the service and growth achieved.

To find out more visit www.curtinandco.com or call Helen Barrett on 0207 399 2288


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60 Second: Times keep a changing

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tom3c70f0c3ca84

Times keep a changin’

Afternoon,

Responsibility for housing in Westminster has now changed hands six times since 2010 – from John Healey, to Grant Shapps, to Mark Prisk, to Kris Hopkins, to Brandon Lewis, to Gavin Barwell and now to Alok Sharma. That’s about once a year.

This wouldn’t have been too much of an issue if the process of building houses did not take years from start to finish.

The Minister for Housing needs to be a long-term visionary, who needs the courage (which is not missing) and more importantly, the freedom to tackle vested interests.

A few years back, the government considered an independent body to grant planning for major projects without having to through the local plan process.

b68b50ac-fe01-435e-9a65-e52fce679af4If we are really serious about building in the leafy Conservative suburbs around London – many of whom have major supply issues, then maybe that’s what we need. (Jeremy would have no problem with it.)

Almost every government takes the same approach to housing. They all call for more housing whilst tinkering on the edges of housing regulation, making it more complex at every turn.

The youth vote in the election seemed to have focused minds and the government has made welcome noises in recent days.

As one MP said, “we can’t expect the young to be capitalists without capital”.

Sajid Javid told council leaders at the Local Government Association’s annual conference that wealthy communities living in areas “where housing is particularly unaffordable” have to accept that more homes needed to be built nearby. Good luck trying to convince the Tory grassroots of that.

It is all well and good increasing council housing targets but without stringent sanctions, they could ask councils to build a billion houses a year and it wouldn’t make the slightest difference.

I wish Alok Sharma a long tenure and good luck in his new role.

God knows he’ll need it.

Have a good weekend

Tom


Green Belt Under Siege
Theresa May accused of going back on promise to protect Britain’s green belt

Javid takes on the NIMBY attitude 
Families living in wealthiest parts of the country must accept new homes, Government says

Help to buy scheme helps house builders shares
The help to buy scheme has built up house builder shares – but it can break them down, too

Haringey votes through £2bn vehicle amid protests 
Controversial Lendlease Haringey deal approved

Market finally cooling?
UK house price fall takes annual growth rate to slowest in four years

Phantom homes? 
Third of homes meant to be completed remain unbuilt despite housing crisis, Shelter reveals

And Finally… 

Polish first lady leaves Trump hanging – Donald Trump in handshake trouble… again


Curtin&Co specialises in the fields of Community Consultation and Political Engagement, especially around development, and Reputation & Crisis Management.

Curtin&Co has grown rapidly to a team of over 20 highly qualified political, community engagement and reputation management specialists, having been founded by Tom Curtin in 2009.  In 2016, Curtin&Co was delighted to be listed in PR Week’s Top 150 Public Relations consultancies at number 86 and in the Top 10 Public Affairs consultancies at number 8; a recognition of the quality of the service and growth achieved.

To find out more visit www.curtinandco.com or call Helen Barrett on 0207 399 2288


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60 Second Bulletin: That Class Sketch

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tom3c70f0c3ca84

Afternoon,

For many a year, British society could be summed up by watching the classic John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett ‘class sketch’ first aired in 1966.

For those of you too young to remember this (obviously including myself), the sketch features the three comedy icons stood in height order, representing the upper class, middle class and lower class Britain. The late Ronnie Corbett, representing the traditional working man, repeatedly says “I know my place”.

Well the election on 8th June shows that voters don’t necessarily know their place. Whilst Jeremy Corbyn is being hailed as the real winner from the election (another sign of the strange times we live in), it is also true that Mrs May’s disastrous campaign did manage some successes in parking the Tory tanks on Labour’s lawn.

Places like Mansfield, Walsall, Middlesbrough and Stoke-on-Trent punted for the blue rosette for the first time in decades (in some cases, ever). Unfortunately for Labour, northern and midland working class voters appeared to no longer “know their place”.

But of course, neither did a lot of traditional middle class voters, perhaps summed up perfectly by Kensington backing Comrade Corbyn.

Is this a sign that the class system in Britain is dead? Or that it is just being reconfigured? As polling companies have shown for a while that we can actually be divided up into six classes, including “Not working” class.

One of the other lines from the iconic Frost Report sketch is the upper and middle class Cleese and Barker “looking down” on working class Corbett. With Brexit driving a wedge between well-heeled, university educated urban voters and traditional working class communities in “left behind” Britain, it could be that voting Labour is now how the new metropolitan elite “look down” on the Conservative voting hinterland.
Strange times indeed.

Tom

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This week at Curtin&Co

Curtin&Co is delighted to have been part of the project team working with Bloor Homes to achieve approval for an application of 450 homes at Chippenham in Wiltshire.Congratulations to Bloor and all of the team!

Is this a good idea or very bad idea?

How the nation’s homeowners voted in GE17
Renters Vs Homeowners. How did they vote?

Brexit impact on house prices
Housing prices start to fall ahead of Brexit negotiations.

Battersea Power Station slashes affordable housing
Sadiq Khan to review as affordable housing offer reduces from 638 to 386.

Grenfall Tower Planning System Review
Extra assurance made by Planning Committee Members over fire safety.

And Finally…

Ascot Vs The Queen’s Speech
Queen’s speech organised around her trip to Ascot


Curtin&Co specialises in the fields of Community Consultation and Political Engagement, especially around development, and Reputation & Crisis Management.

Curtin&Co has grown rapidly to a team of over 20 highly qualified political, community engagement and reputation management specialists, having been founded by Tom Curtin in 2009.  In 2016, Curtin&Co was delighted to be listed in PR Week’s Top 150 Public Relations consultancies at number 86 and in the Top 10 Public Affairs consultancies at number 8; a recognition of the quality of the service and growth achieved.

To find out more visit www.curtinandco.com or call Helen Barrett on 0207 399 2288