Did you know that a “Czar” is a person appointed by government to advise on and coordinate policy in a particular area? And did you know that, due to the focus on making London a 24-hour city, 18 months ago Amy Lamé was selected as London’s Night Czar by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, with a view to boosting the night time economy, as well as making London by night safe and accessible for all.
But have the new schemes she’s introduced started to influence London’s property-based businesses? By focusing on certain initiatives such as the Night Tube and its effect on London’s housing market, Assist Inventories want to find out if companies in our sector have noticed any changes since she started her work.
If you already know what you think of the Night Czar then tell us now, alternatively you can read on then give us your thoughts at the end.
The mission of the Night Czar
One of the main reasons Ms Lamé was appointed as London’s first Night Czar was because research showed that music venues, bars and LGBT venues were closing and had declined rapidly in the last 15 years. Born in New Jersey but based in the UK since the age of 21, she has a diverse background in cultural and creative industries. The former Mayor of Camden from 2010-2011 has experience as a comedian, club-runner and LGBT activist.
The mayoral appointment was tasked with ensuring that London thrives as a 24-hour city – by boosting the capital’s night-time economy (restaurants, bars, nightclubs, cafes, shops and transport), as well as safeguarding venues across the city, acting as an advocate for London’s nightlife. That was the vision of Sadiq Khan who wants London to rival the likes of Berlin, Tokyo and New York.
But it’s not all about promoting club culture. Over the years the closure of event venues has seen a steady increase, something that has been linked heavily to property development and rising rent costs. City Hall provided new guidance for local authorities and developers to advise how new homes could co-exist with current live music venues and night clubs, while safeguarding the night-time economy and culture venues.
What’s changed? Assessing the impact with facts and figures
By analysing some of the available statistics it’s possible to see where the new policies and changes have been successful already or not since she started her role. The night-time economy contributes £26.3bn to London’s annual GDP, equivalent to 40% of the UK’s entire night time economy. This figure is expected to rise to £28.3bn by 2029 so that part of the economy is undoubtedly growing.
Ms Lamé has met a lot of people through holding night surgeries with the likes of night-time workers, business owners, developers, police, councillors, community groups, MPs and members of the public. Through sharing best practice around the world she has also helped other cities introduce a Night Czar such as Manchester, New York and Helsinki.
Benefits of a Night Czar for the property industry:
- Making areas currently only accessible by taxi at night more reachable
- Ensuring that night workers who, are often on a lower income, can get home avoiding the cost of taxis
- Making London a more attractive place to live by ensuring that areas which are affordable to lower income workers are safer and more accessible
- Creating more jobs in the travel, catering and convenience sectors as well as the club scene, by ensuring venues stay open
Nightmares for the Mayor: addressing the city’s concerns
One issue about a 24-hour city is ensuring public safety at night, particularly for vulnerable people. Nine in ten victims of sexual offences in London are women. Following on from London’s first-ever Women’s Safety Summit, Amy Lamé developed a city-wide Women’s Safety Charter to improve safety for women at night.
With regards to policing and crime, Joanne McCartney, Chair of the Police and Crime Committee, said in 2016: “Officers report they’ve had to change their shift patterns in order to better police the clubs and bars, and are regularly retained on duty at the end of shifts to deal with scuffles and disorder.”
But London is not just a young person’s city so, in addition, Ms Lamé has put on services and activities for the elderly such as weekly cabaret shows for care home residents. She has also helped to introduce arts projects for homeless people overcoming addictions. Notably, homelessness in London accounts for nearly a quarter of all rough sleeping in England, with the number of homeless people in the city increasing by 18% in 2017.
How has the Night Tube affected the housing market?
At present, five Tube lines run a 24-hour service on Fridays and Saturdays and many bus routes also run 24 hours on Friday and Saturday too, with some even running seven days a week. So it’s not just clubbers who are seeing the benefits of the service. Business leaders’ group London First predict it could be worth £77 million each year to the capital’s overall economy by 2029.
Since the first 24-hour Tube service launched in 2016 it has exceeded the expectations of the Night Czar. She commented: “You only have to talk to businesses, bars and venues to see what a boost it provides for them. It’s been great for workers getting to and from night shifts, and great for Londoners and visitors who are making the most of everything our diverse nightlife has to offer.”. But what does it mean for property centric businesses?
The places that have seen most impact from the 24-hour Tube are at the end of the lines. These areas were previously only accessible by night buses or the last tube at the weekend. Stops near the end of lines appeal to first-time buyers, commuters and younger people due to their lower costs. Making these more accessible means positive things for those who live there but it could mean that those currently affordable areas now increase in cost making London even less accessible to those groups; something that would contradict what the Night Tube aims to achieve.
Figures from the Land Registry show that prices around Night Tube stations are already considerably higher than other areas within the local authority. For example, a home within 10 minutes of Ealing Broadway tube last year cost on average £536,134, compared to £406,999 for other homes in Ealing. This has caused a shift in housing demand with it dropping slightly in the city centre and increasing more in the outskirts where prices are rising. Builders, property developers, investors and agents could capitalise on this new demand by targeting their business in areas such as Walthamstow, Brixton and Loughton. This has given Zones 3 to 6 more potential for new properties, they’re less congested compared to the inner city so developers could build more affordable homes there.
Tackling the next step
Talking to journalist Robert Peston recently, Sadiq Khan, who is two years into his term as London Mayor with two years to go, was asked what he wanted his three biggest achievements as Mayor to be. One of them was fixing the housing crisis. He said it was good news in 2017 that there were record numbers of ‘affordable’ housing starts. Construction begun on 12,500 new properties in 2017 and 6,800 were built by March 2018. The Mayor has promised 116,000 by 2022. He said they also started building more social homes in 2017 than in the last four years.
Looking forward to her next challenges as Night Czar, Amy Lamé said: “As I look ahead, one of my key focuses will be looking at how the workplaces of night-time employees can be improved.”
Property Industry Insight
We would like to know if your business has felt an impact from these initiatives? Have you noticed a positive or negative difference since the Night Czar was introduced?
Please let us know by answering these 6 questions: CLICK TO ANSWER OUR QUESTIONS.