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Londonís public sector responds to Brexit

Thu 25th August 2016, 5:07 pm

It has been two months since Britainís landmark decision to leave the EU, and now that the dust is beginning to settle, Londonís senior public sector officials respond to the fallout.

The new deputy mayor for housing and residential development, James Murray, is pessimistic about the situation: "The mayor has been clear that fixing London’s housing crisis will be a marathon, not a sprint – and the UK’s decision to leave the European Union has now made this job even harder."

Some London boroughs are more optimistic. Paul Nichols, divisional director for regeneration enterprise and planning at Harrow, said: "We don’t currently envisage that Brexit will negatively affect our own housebuilding plans. The council is delivering a build-to-rent programme, alongside estates regeneration and affordable homes programmes: the demand in these areas is as strong as ever.

"The more immediate impact of Brexit appears to be on market housebuilders. If their plans are scaled back, this could place additional pressure on London’s rental market in the short term,” added Nichols. “Naturally, we are watching the situation closely and particularly alert to interest rate changes, loan costs and any potential upward pressure on build costs. In the wider development market, there has been no indication so far of any weakening in the desire of developers to get on with their major schemes in Harrow."

Brendon Walsh, executive director regeneration, economic development and environment, at Hounslow Council, said: "So far the feedback from housebuilders has been patchy, there have been some concerns about availability of skilled labour but not when it comes to the financing of schemes. Clearly the froth seems to have come off the top of the central London market, but this hasn’t impacted Hounslow, which still represents good value in the context of London."

But when considering the wider impact of Brexit, Ealing Council’s executive director regeneration and housing Pat Hayes is more concerned: "We in London and in Ealing will carry on working to attract investment and loudly proclaiming our commitment to economic growth and social inclusivity ­ and we will continue to be successful albeit, in more difficult circumstances. The losers are the younger generations who will miss the opportunities to live, work and study in Europe which people my age enjoyed and will suffer from the economic slowdown which might arise from our exclusion from the single market."

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