This may seem obvious to anyone with a noxious loo. But it is not obvious to developers.
“They need to think more about the management of the building and not just the marble in the lifts,” says King, innocent of the fact that £3000 per square metre is being spent on the finishes in the Walkie Talkie (see above). King is not innocent, in the sense that he wants to promote the “premier” service CBRE offers in many of the world’s iconic buildings, including the Gherkin. He’s carried out a survey of 400 CBRE-managed buildings around the world. The result? “Who cares about fancy finishes? We value fast service.” Well, yes, they say that now.
Gaining planning permission in the City is easy; every one of the 60 applications made in the third quarter of last year was approved. It has always been easy: every one of 64 applications made in the third quarter of 2008 was granted. There’s a good reason for this, which we will come to later. On the developer’s naughty step, according to tables drawn up by commercial law firm EMW, sits Merton. The south London borough passed 76% of applications in June to September 2008. Not bad… but last year the figure fell to 67% — the lowest among all 33 authorities.
The number of applications across London is up 22% to 6500 since 2008. Despite, or perhaps because of, the pressure, the average success rate is up 5% to 80%.
How come it’s 100% in the City? Applications are not submitted until they meet with the tacit approval of chief planning officer Peter Rees. Until now that is: Rees leaves at the end of March after more than 25 years. No replacement has been announced. The post may even be scrapped. It will be interesting to see if the City still holds a 100% record in five years’ time.