Last week marked a big milestone for the Mayor’s draft new London Plan with the Examination in Public (EiP) opening at City Hall on Tuesday 15 January. In his opening address, Jules Pipe, the Deputy Mayor for Planning, Regeneration and Skills, said, “To deal with the challenges it faces, London needs something radical”.
The early hearing sessions this month have focused on the Good Growth principles and the overall Spatial Development Strategy. There is overwhelming consensus amongst the respondents that the draft plan is far too detailed and prescriptive for a Spatial Development Strategy and it fails to deliver on its statutory remit to only deal only with matters which are of strategic importance to Greater London. The GLA contests that the draft Plan reflects what the Mayor thinks is needed on a London-wide basis to deal with the issues facing it and that all policies are of strategic importance. However, it is difficult to comprehend how the provision of water fountains and the size of a store cupboard within a dwelling can be deemed to satisfy the ‘strategic importance’ test in the Greater London Authority Act 1999.
On a more positive note, our suggestion that the Good Growth policies in Chapter 1 of the draft Plan should be presented as objectives, rather than policies, was supported by the majority of Respondents attending the Good Growth session. There was considerable support for a need for a clearer vision and prioritisation of policies upfront in the Plan.
Another common theme amongst respondents’ representations is the significant additional burden on resources that the Plan would place on the boroughs through additional work at a time when planning department budgets are already over-stretched, for example widespread use of design reviews and establishing and maintaining a small sites register. In response to this, the GLA stated they think they have reduced the resource burden on the boroughs by writing a lot of their Local Plan policies for them and allowing them to focus on more detailed matters such as site allocations and area action plans. It will be interesting to see how the boroughs react to this shift in power and control.
Next month the sessions will start to drill into the detail of the housing policies. The EiP is due to run until mid-May and London First is representing Members at twenty-four of the hearing sessions. The Mayor is aiming to adopt the Plan by the end of the year.
Thank you to all our Members who attended the working group roundtable sessions to help refine our strategy for the written statements and hearing sessions. All the statements submitted to date are now available to view here. Further statements will be uploaded after the next two submission deadlines on 29 January and 1 March.