Diary: Pity the planning fools

The answers to life can all be found in 1980s TV shows, as far as Diary is concerned – and we’re pleased to learn that Esther McVey shares this philosophy. How else would she arrive at her “planning A-Team” – a crack team of specialist planners, designers and ecologists on a mission to help local authorities? According to The Times, a speech from the housing and planning minister included the rallying cry: “It doesn’t matter if it’s boosting capacity or plugging gaps in labour and expertise, if you have a problem, maybe you can hire the planning A-team.” With all due dramatic pauses included, we hope. If this doesn’t work, McVey’s next question to her department will surely be: How can we get hold of a talking car?

Outcry in EG?

Diary diligently tuned in to the Supreme Court’s live broadcast of its hearing of the appeal in Duval v 11-13 Randolph Crescent Ltd [2018] EWCA Civ 2298; [2018] PLSCS 177, and our ears pricked up right at the outset. Lord Carnwath, eager to gauge the significance of the issue before the court, asked whether there had been “outcry in the Estates Gazette”. We will forgive his lordship for clinging to tradition with our old name, but gladly Joanne Wicks QC (who appeared for the appellant and, coincidentally, was profiled in EG only last week) came armed with evidence of the case’s “far-reaching and unforeseen consequences”, including one of our Legal Notes, written by regular contributor Elizabeth Dwomoh. Congratulations, Liz, for getting a well-deserved name-check in the Supreme Court, even if your expert analysis of the decision doesn’t quite constitute “outcry” in our book. Decide for yourself at: www.egi.co.uk/legal/the-need-to-abide-by-absolute-covenants/

It’s a hell of a town

Your regular Diary scribe was in New York last week, very much on non-commercial property business. But our thoughts couldn’t help turning to the job as we clocked up the miles romping around Manhattan, from unreasonably early morning (they should call it “the city that never sleeps in”) to neon-lit night. The bright lights of Times Square amply demonstrated, for anyone fearing the end of bricks-and-mortar retail, that it is alive, well and gorging to excess in the Big Apple – and that was before we visited the cavernous Westfield World Trade Center. High above that – 102 floors up, to be precise – on the One World Observatory, Diary got visual proof, if proof were needed, that New York is real estate on a truly epic scale.

You dirty rat

Diary’s one other abiding thought on New York? Like London, it’ll be great when it’s finished. There is work going on everywhere, and it’s hard to find a street to walk down without a temporary route guiding you off the sidewalk to make way for some development or other. On one such diversion, we happened upon this chap – very much the angry Stateside cousin of our Roland – used as something of a mascot for a union protest about a developer’s local plumbers’ rates. If there’s one group we wouldn’t want to tick off, it’s New York plumbers – after all (depending on what canon you follow) they count Mario and Luigi among their number.

Ace news for HMV

A few weeks ago, we praised the use of football pitches as an evocative way of measuring decline in the retail sector. But, when it comes to good news for shoppers, it seems a different sporting metric is called for. At least, according to the BBC’s coverage of plans to open “the world’s largest HMV store” – a feat which, while definitely to be celebrated, is not quite the achievement it once was. So, what did the Beeb serve up? It described HMV Vault in Birmingham as “spanning 25,000 sq ft across one floor – almost the size of 12 tennis courts”. But why stop there? That is also equivalent to 162 10-pin bowling alley lanes. Or more than 12,000 Monopoly boards. Or, if you are a stickler who prefers to use the industry standard… a bit less than half a football pitch.

Big on Instagram

“Setting up business at an iconic address is not only a great investment but a sure-fire way to make an impression,” says Savoy Stewart. “But today it isn’t enough to make an impression in name and location alone; to be iconic, you need to make it on Instagram too.” The very thought of which makes Diary shudder. The agent took 10 of the tallest office buildings “breaching the London skyline” and compared the number of times each has been snapped on Instagram. 30 St Mary Axe – “The Gherkin” – is clearly the most popular, with 81,100 hashtags. Tower 42 – “NatWest Tower” – has 21,379 and One Canada Square in Canary Wharf has 10,506. Our near neighbour, 22 Bishopsgate, only has 2,056, although it is still a building site. But bottom of Savoy Stewart’s list is 25 Canada Square – “Citigroup Tower” – with only 451. Awwww. If you’re local, please do give it some love today.