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The last days of Boris

In the week before the start of purdah (the election period when City Hall is restricted in what it may announce), the current Mayor’s office seemingly scrambled to publish of a number of key planning policy documents, including:

London First submitted representations in advance of each of these documents, with contributions from members and achieved positive changes.

The Mayor also launched a ‘call for sites’ for the London-wide Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA).

Call for sites for the 2016 SHLAA

The GLA is starting a new housing capacity study to inform the next London Plan. This study, the London Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA), and is being undertaken in partnership with local planning authorities in London.

As part of this process the GLA is undertaking a Call for Sites, which started on 15th March and runs for three and a half months. Through the Call for Sites, private, public and voluntary sector bodies and individuals can submit potential housing sites for consideration as part of the Assessment.

Submitted sites will be assessed by the local planning authority and the GLA in order to establish the capacity, availability, deliverability and their suitability for residential and mixed-use development. This will take into account the range of planning policy, environmental and local constraints and the extent to which these can be mitigated or addressed.

The SHLAA will be used to inform the approach to meeting London’s growth through a new London Plan.

Minor Alterations to the London Plan

The Minor Alterations to the London Plan (MALP) was formally adopted by the GLA on 14th March 2016. The MALP brought the London Plan in line with the National Described Space Standards for housing together with new optional building regulations on access and water.

The MALP on housing introduced greater flexibility for boroughs to increase maximum car parking standards in areas of low public transport.

Housing SPG

The Housing SPG 2016 replaces the 2012 Housing SPG and provides guidance on the implementation of housing policies in the 2015 London Plan and the 2016 Minor Alterations to the Plan.

In light of the Housing and Planning Bill and its significant implications for affordable housing policy (with the introduction of starter homes) the section on affordable housing that was included in the draft has been omitted from the published version. It is likely that a separate guidance document on affordable housing will be brought forward once the Housing and Planning Act comes into force.

London First submitted representations on the draft Housing SPG, informed by our members. The result was a number of changes to the draft guidance, including greater flexibility in guidance on residential densities (including support for higher densities in Opportunity Areas), improved guidance on the build-to-rent sector, and changes to guidance on development viability.

Central Activities Zone SPG

The publication of the supplementary planning guidance for London’s Central Activities Zone is positively welcomed by London First. It provides additional clarity and guidance on the implementation of London Plan policies for the capital’s central area including:

  • Striking an appropriate balance between office and new residential development, including the removal of office to residential permitted development rights when the current exemption expires in May 2019.
  • Managing the attractions of the area as a global destination for culture, entertainment, shopping and tourism.
  • Outlining the potential for additional housing capacity in central London without compromising the business, culture and other key functions of the zone.

While London First’s response on the SPG was largely welcoming of the guidance, a number of modifications were suggested which have been successfully secured, including, among other things:

  • Increasing the threshold for mixed use policy from 200sq.m to 500sq.m (where residential uses should be included where there is an increase in commercial floorspace).
  • Securing a distinction between the evening and night time economy given the differences in the profile of user and nature of uses.
  • Recognition that investment in public realm has a significant positive impact on the CAZ as a place to do business.

Policy Recommendations for a New London Plan: Outer London Commission Reports

The Outer London Commission launched a trio of reports setting out their recommendations on the policy approaches for a new London Plan on:

  • More effective arrangements for coordinating strategic policy and infrastructure investment across the Wider South East of England
  • Removing the Barriers to Housing Delivery
  • Accommodating London’s Growth

London First are delighted to be holding an event with the Commission on these reports and their recommendations on 21st April 2016. Please contact Sara Parkinson, sparkinson@londonfirst.co.uk for further information.  

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