A new draft London Plan is out for consultation until 2nd March 2018. It brings together pre-existing strategies on housing, environment and transport and is significantly different from previous plans and drafts produced by previous mayors. The business lobby group London First has produced an analysis of the most important aspects of the Plan.
The key points are:
- A focus on delivery, particularly of housing and transport within Opportunity Areas using compulsory purchase powers where necessary, with a strategy for funding infrastructure that includes Land Value Uplift and the Development Rights Auction Model as well as powers to develop on public-sector-owned land. London First would like to see greater clarity on mechanisms for collaboration with boroughs, or intervention where boroughs fall short on Opportunity Area growth and housing targets.
- A renewed approach to spatial “growth corridors” based on existing and planned transport infrastructure and recognising opportunities for collaborative development in adjacent parts of the South-East presented by HS1, HS2 as well as Crossrail 1 and 2. [Opportunity Areas around the Thames Estuary are Poplar Riverside, Royal Docks and Beckton, Greenwich Peninsula, Woolwich, Barking Riverside, Charlton Riverside, Bexley Riverside, Thamesmead and Abbey Wood.] London First considers that the plan could further reinforce government focus on cross-boundary collaboration including ways and means to encourage co-operative behaviour between authorities.
- The draft London Plan confirms 35% on-site affordable housing targets and implementation guidance from the recent Affordable Housing and Viability Supplementary Planning Guidance, but with more localised thresholds for affordable housing in Opportunity Areas. London First is lobbying for even more flexibility to enable a ‘fast track’ process without detailed viability appraisal slowing down the pre-application phase of the planning process.
- The draft Plan focuses on densification and the policy to enhance protection of the Green Belt is confirmed. Site optimisation will be design-led in line with the Mayor’s Good Growth agenda, which seeks to “improve the health and quality of life of all Londoners, to reduce inequalities and to make the city a better place to live, work and visit”. Formal design reviews will be required above specific density thresholds and boroughs will be required to prescribe acceptable locations and heights for tall buildings. London First continues to advocate flexibility for localised borough reviews of green belt and metropolitan open land close to transport nodes but of poor environmental or civic value which could be modified to support development incorporating properly accessible green space.
- The draft Plan supports new office developments in town centres and provision of flexible workspace for small and medium enterprises with new Creative Enterprise Zones supporting creative industries. The draft plan promotes a “no net loss approach to industrial land” and intensification of existing industrial land. London First advocates the identification through the local plan process of new industrial locations near arterial roads, rail and waterways through land use swaps or release of brownfield land (including in green belt).