Knight Frank – One in three buyers of London home Chinese

Sky News

One in three buyers of newly built London homes comes from China and Hong Kong, according to a leading estate agent.

Knight Frank has reported that a decline in the value of Sterling has made London more affordable for Far Eastern buyers who want apartments for children studying in the UK or as an investment.

Sky News visited Europe’s tallest residential tower in Canary Wharf with a group of Chinese investors who were viewing a range of developments in the capital.

Investor, Ms Zhou said: “At the start we’re not looking for something too expensive. Maybe around £400,000 and we’ll see how it goes and if it’s going well then family, friends and relatives will come to invest more.”

Chinese buyers have shown interest in London because of its status as one of the world’s most developed and highest value property markets.

The UK’s stable society and education system have also been a draw.

In mainland China, authorities have put restrictions on property speculators to dampen the market, while in Hong Kong prices have risen by 70% in less than two years.

Property consultant, Siqi Zhang told Sky News that London offered better value than Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

“For a normal £400,000 investment you can buy a freehold house in London. But in Beijing you can’t even get a central apartment.”

Research by Knight Frank has suggested that Chinese buyers spent £120m on property in the capital over a recent two-month period. Most were active in the £400,000 to £1m end of the market.

The value of Sterling has declined by 25% against a range of other currencies since 2007, and Chinese investors stand to make investment gains on the double if and when the UK economy normalises.

“We’re forecasting 30% growth over the next five years in property prices in London,” Knight Frank head of residential research Liam Bailey said.

“If the pound to dollar exchange rate goes back to where it was; it means the uplift for Chinese investors could be up to 60% – 70% in the same period if they sell the properties and transfer the money back into their original currency.”

Housing charities have warned that the continued interest of overseas investors in London has made it ever more difficult for ordinary Londoners to get on the property ladder.

The Housing Association has forecast that many young Londoners will have to wait until they are in their 50s to be able to afford a deposit.

Assistant Director, Paul Rees said: “If people buy properties at astronomical prices at the top end of the market, that has a ripple effect all the way down the housing ladder with people at the bottom end squeezed out of the market entirely.

“In effect we simply don’t have enough homes to go around. As a result of that, 800,000 people are on a waiting list for an affordable home and the average house price in London is thirteen times the average salary.”

Skip Tax U Turn after less than a Week! – Cameron backs down after 48Hr Deadline Threat to Block Jubilee

The Skip Tax  – The extraordinary increase in landfill tax from £2.50 to £64 a tonne, only announced last Friday – and neatly designed to fill the budget hole by the Pasty Tax and Caravan tax u-turns – will be dropped this pm according to Politics Home.

Why the rush, the threat from 100s of skip hire firms to disrupt the Jubilee by dropping off skips in the middle of streets in central London over the weekend.


 furious operators are threatening to send more than a thousand skips to block the streets of London over the four-day weekend if the Government does not freeze the landfill tax hike within the next two days.

It follows the Government announcing changes to landfill tax,which have seen the tax cost of disposing of certain materials increase by a staggering 2,460% overnight.

Richard Hunt, chair of the Plant, Waste and Recycling Show, told MRW: “We are giving David Cameron 48 hours to freeze the landfill tax hike or the Queen’s Jubilee weekend might be ruined.

“We will block up central London. We spoke about blocking up the M25 but we do not want to stop people who may be going to the airports to go away on their holidays.”

Given the unique and easy ability of caravan owners and skip owners to bring traffic to a blinding halt in central London what stupid targets to pick.

A group gibes Cameron a 48 hour deadline on Wednesday and he capitulates on a Friday.

Now we know who is running the country, skip owners.

I hope the papers and cartoonists pick up on this.


Wigan – Another Post #NPPF Housing Land Supply Core Strategy Failure

Here is the letter from the inspector suspending the inquiry by six months

as it stands I consider the submitted Core Strategy to be unsound in that it fails to demonstrate an adequate and realistically deliverable supply of housing land….

I have significant doubts regarding a number of the assumptions made by the Council in attempting to demonstrate an adequate supply of deliverable housing land. I am also concerned with a lack of flexibility and the absence of an allowance for cleared dwellings.
Taking a 15 year plan period of 2011-2026 I consider that there should be provision for at least 16,500 dwellings (gross). In my view there is a shortfall of at least 2,500 dwellings in terms of realistically deliverable supply within that period. The NPPF makes it clear that identified housing requirements should be fully met and that a rolling five year supply of specific
deliverable sites should be identified with a buffer of 5% or 20% where there has been persistent under delivery. Taking account of past performance in relation to housing requirements I consider that a buffer of 20% is required in the case of Wigan. There is therefore also a specific need to demonstrate a deliverable five year supply of at least 6,000 dwellings from the likely adoption of the plan i.e. 2013/14. This provides the basis for the work necessary during the suspension.

Will Leveson Indirectly lead to an End to SoS Planning Decisions?

One of the points of speculation of what might emerge from the Leveson Inquiry is that he might recommend that politicians no longer make ‘quasi judicial decisions’ that instead that these be made by independent technical bodies.  If this occurred for press/competition regulation there might be pressure to extend this to other areas such as planning.  Lord Lawson said on Today this morning that this should take place.  An outcome might be like the Irish Planning Board which is statutorily independent.

Certainly politicians have difficulty with quasi-judicial issues, especially when they are are young, inexperienced, come via the modern SPAD/Lobbying/PR worlds and lack the background of working in local government – mentioning no names of course.

There are pros and cons of such  an approach but in my view the firm balance of advantage is for the SoS to retain this role in planning.

The pros:

  • It allows politicians to be politicians without restraint
  • It avoids potential bear traps for politicians which could lead to JR
  • It removes the whiff that such ‘technical’ decisions are the result of behind the scenes lobbying and influence by wealthy and powerful interests

The cons:

  • Casework is an important learning exercise for ministers, showing how planning policy issues affect real communities
  • It shows ministers the complex trade off and weighing and balancing exercise that planning decisions entail.  This leads to better national policy as it is less likely to be drawn in crude strokes that such decisions can be made without such an exercise.
  • It ensures that key precedent decisions have political backing.  If they were independent they could be condemned by ministers for short term political reasons and lead to calls to change policy/the board/the law.  This would create a situation of  instability and potential see sawing of planning policy harming long term projects and investment.
  • The threat of JR if the reasoning of decisions is faulty ensures that ministers treat planning issues seriously rather than making decisions on purely political considerations, some of which may not be material considerations in a case or would because of the law and planning policy be given limited weight.
  • Except in the most simple cases decisions will depend on the weighing and balancing of material planning considerations.  This will be a matter of judgement and in cases where national policy/the development plan pulls in different directions this will be a matter of political judgement not just a ‘technical’ decision.
  • Any independent board would need to be accountable.  Parliamentary hearing could become a farce where inspectors were drilled on unpopular decisions and they would respond by in effect reading out relevant pages from Victor Moore.  It could also politicise the appointment process to the board – much like the American Supreme Court.