Khan looks back at his predecessor’s record, two museums cause bidding wars (of different sorts), some politicos put aside old quarrels and there’s more history than we can dig up. Plus, Robert De Niro’s waiting (to open a hotel)

Hansom HT

Safe as houses?

Londoners conscious of the capital’s inability to get anywhere near delivering the amount of homes required will be interested that new mayor Sadiq Khan is determined to “personally get to grips with the mess that has been left behind” by predecessor Boris Johnson. This week the new mayor observed that Johnson had presided over an affordable housing delivery quota of just 13%, against Khan’s aspired-to 50%, and that 100,000 construction-industry apprenticeships had foundered. However, Khan pointedly makes clear that City Hall is “not going to be able to turn things around overnight”, and further dampens expectation by promising to continue Johnson’s policy of developing Transport for London sites as his first course of action. As you were, then.

Going once, going twice …

Hats off to David Adjaye, the late, great Zaha Hadid, Thomas Heatherwick and Antony Gormley for contributing items to an auction that raised more than £1.1m for the Design Museum’s new home in Kensington. A total of 55 pieces were sold by specialist auctioneer Phillips, including a solar clock designed by Adjaye, a set of three marble tables by Hadid, and a bronze version of Heatherwick’s Spun chair. The highest bid of the night was for Gormley’s Small Spall III statue, which raised £158,500. The museum now has just under £2m left to find before it opens.

Affordable housing is history

I hear the design director of the Victoria & Albert Museum has conceded that the venerable organisation could be complicit in driving creative types out of parts of east London because of gentrification aided in part by its new base in the Olympic Park. This is a tantalising conundrum for students of the “regeneration games”, as it essentially questions whether it is possible for large-scale transformational projects to be too successful, and  - indeed - how prescriptive we can really be with our regeneration goals. All food for thought for when London’s next opportunity to host an Olympiad rolls around, when - who knows?  - perhaps somewhere south of the river will get a look-in.

Best of frenemies

Those of us who lived through the Napoleonic Wars and subsequent Pax Britannica are especially well placed to enjoy the nuances of the current EU referendum. My hacks have taken a view, based on extensive research in the industry, and I am content. Meanwhile, it is fun to sift the mounds of claim and counter-claim issued by both sides for scant crumbs of fact. For reasons I know not, however, the sight of George Osborne, Vince Cable, and Ed Balls standing side-by-side and espousing a shared opinion has caused my right eyebrow to fix itself significantly above normal operating height. Time, I fear, may not heal this particular malady.

Digging deep

Big ticket infrastructure projects like HS2 and Thames Tideway could lag behind because of a skills shortage. But not just for the lack of skilled labourers or engineers. According to Historic England (HE), it’s the crippling lack of archaeologists which could hold up our country’s most important schemes. Thanks to planning permission policy introduced 25 years ago, developers must fund archaeological excavations, and the lack of archaeologists in the country to carry out those excavations has been dwindling. HE says there are only 3,000 people employed in commercial archaeology in England, a figure that has grow by 25% in the next six years if it is to meet the current pipeline of work.


An offer they can’t refuse?

Hotel industry stalwarts who wonder what actor Robert De Niro has to offer their sector need only look at the acres of press coverage garnered by plans for an 83-room boutique establishment in Covent Garden. The extent to which the screen legend will have hands-on involvement in the venture, dubbed the Wellington Hotel, is unclear. Unsurprisingly, hacks have had fun capitalising on a host of puns related to De Niro’s film output in their stories. One hopes the little fockers on Westminster council’s planning committee will be able to put aside the unwholesome images of crime, gambling and vice associated with De Niro’s celluloid work when weighing the pros and cons of the scheme.

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