Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 360 - 371)



  360. So it is large companies wanting to get all their staff under the main roof?
  (Dr Damesick) That is one important source of demand. Also there is demand for space in tall buildings from small to medium-sized occupiers who would like smaller units of high quality accommodation in a prominent building.

Mrs Dunwoody

  361. But everybody who wants office space can find it in a tall building?
  (Dr Damesick) Not everybody, but a significant proportion within the market.

  362. Some are small, some are large, but there is a group that cannot get in?
  (Dr Damesick) No. You can have tall buildings which can accommodate both a substantial medium-sized occupier and a range of smaller occupiers. I think that is what is going to happen, probably, in, for example, the Swiss Re Tower being developed in the City of London. There will be one significant headquarters in there occupying part of the building and a range of other tenants.

  Chairman: We must press on, I am afraid.

Mrs Ellman

  363. Can you name any companies who did not come to London or relocated from London because of a lack of tall buildings?
  (Dr Damesick) Not specifically, but I would add the point I made earlier—that I think that is the wrong test.

  364. What is the test?
  (Dr Damesick) Economics and efficiency work the margin. If, because of a restriction on supply, some companies are not able to occupy their optimal accommodation, their efficiency and productivity will be affected at the margins.

  365. Can you name any who have not come to London or stayed in London because of the lack of tall buildings?
  (Dr Damesick) Not for London. We have numerous examples now of companies who have not stayed in the City of London because they could not find the accommodation they required—

  366. Because they could not find tall buildings?
  (Dr Damesick) Yes, or buildings of—

  367. Could you name some?
  (Dr Damesick) Well, the companies that have gone to Canary Wharf I have in mind—Lehman Brothers, Barclays Bank, HSBC, Clifford Chance.

  368. But you cannot name any who have left London altogether?
  (Dr Damesick) No.

Ms King

  369. So do you think that the demand for tall buildings can be met by areas that have already been identified such as Canary Wharf and Croydon, or do you think it will have to be beyond that? Other sites?
  (Dr Damesick) I would come back to central London and say that I think there will be some demand for tall buildings in central London which needs to be met. I would not envisage that we can look at Canary Wharf and expect that, successful location though it is, to be able to take all the demand that there might be of large units of office space. We should remember at Canary Wharf we are talking about a location which is served by one tube line so there could be other locations in addition around the fringes of central London or further afield which can absorb some of the demand for large units of office space if those demands cannot be met in central London.

  370. Talking about tube lines, you will be aware that Canary Wharf contributed £90 million towards the Jubilee line. Do you think that it is reasonable to ask developers to contribute towards transport costs? It is clear that the Heron Tower, for example, made no similar contribution.
  (Mr McKee) I think the view of the property industry today is that they expect to be asked to contribute towards that kind of investment. They would see a positive value in having that kind of transport infrastructure provided. My only qualification to that would be that, when one looks at the total financial demand being placed upon the viability of development proposals, including the seeming interest in the Henry George Foundation's ideas by the Mayor, there is a limit to what can be provided, and once that has been exceeded then you will find those schemes will not proceed. So yes, but it has to be kept within a reasonable boundary.


  371. But is it not fair to say that if you are going to put a tall building up it should meet the full cost to the community of putting in extra transport?
  (Dr Damesick) If you take the case of the Heron Tower or another tall building in the City, it depends whether there are specific transport investments which can be, as it were, earmarked as having been needed to service that development. I would make the other point, however, that if we are talking about the City, obviously any transport improvements would benefit landowners and, indeed, occupiers in the city more generally, so that raises the issue of whether they in general should be contributing towards the enhancement of transport links. There I think there are practical problems in how you would, as it were, realise such contributions.

  Chairman: On that note, can I thank you very much for your evidence.

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