The new, draft London Plan is out today. The policy document that will shape the capital over the coming years is also arguably the most powerful tool in the Mayor’s arsenal and brings everything else – transport, environment, health, culture, economics – together.
Sadiq, accused on occasion of prioritising talk over action, can prove the naysayers wrong by getting this right.
Developers want recognition and pragmatism, local authorities want to be empowered and supported, Londoners want homes they can afford and infrastructure that works as quickly as possible. It’s a tough line to tread, especially for an administration that is acutely sensitive to its political position – a progressive Labour Mayor, a wobbling Tory government beset by Brexit, imminent local elections made particularly interesting by an energised hard(er) left (who are particularly alive to issues around ‘regeneration’ and housing).
Early reactions are promising for Sadiq and his team but there’s at least a year to run before any of this is set in stone.
DRAFT LONDON PLAN
A draft of Sadiq Khan’s long-awaited London Plan has been published and put to public consultation, following a steady stream of announcements giving ‘sneak peaks’ of policies most likely to resonate with the wider electorate – improving fire safety standards, protecting the Green Belt and pubs, making London more cycle-friendly, as well as the statement banning fracking in the Greater London area. The new plan, a wholesale replacement of its predecessor (i.e. not just an update to Boris’ version), is based around Sadiq’s concept of ‘Good Growth’ which he describes as ‘working to re-balance development towards more genuinely affordable homes for working Londoners to buy and rent [and] delivering a more socially integrated and sustainable city’. Out this morning (Wednesday 29 November) and 524 pages long, there’s a lot of detail to digest, but an early read suggests that densification around transport links and a new emphasis on small sites are two key planks of the new order. These go hand-in-hand with a new design code, minimum space standards and reduced parking quotas. This package of policies has already led the Conservatives within the London Assembly to accuse the Mayor of ‘declaring war on the suburbs'. The Plan also reiterates the Mayor’s commitment to his 50% affordable housing target and the fast-track route through planning if developers commit to a minimum of 35% on private land (and 50% on public land, as well as Strategic Industrial Land that has been released for housing) but it now also includes a provision for Build to Rent to follow the faster route as long as it delivers 35% affordable of which 30% should be London Living Rent. The consultation will run until 2 March 2018 and this will be followed by an Examination in Public led by an independent panel later next year. It will then require final approval by Government.
The above is just a snapshot of this 524-page, policy document which will dictate the shape of the capital over the next 3-7 years at the very least and there will be more analysis and commentary from LCA to come. Please email Jenna if there’s anything you’d particularly like to know more about in the meantime.
A partnership has been announced between the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Trust and King’s Health Partners, which aims to transform heart and lung disease treatment and research in the UK. The collaboration, a UK first in terms of its scale, envisages the development of a new purpose-built clinical academic facility on the St Thomas’ Hospital and Evelina London Children’s Hospital site as well as substantial investment to the organisations’ other sites. The announcement comes before a decision from NHS England, due tomorrow, on controversial proposals which recommend ending children’s congenital heart surgery at the Royal Brompton. Opposed by many in the field, NHS England recommends closing the centre because national guidelines insist that ‘children's cardiac services must be co-located within a hospital providing a broad range of paediatric specialties and services’.
GREEN LIGHT FOR BARRATT
Camden Council Planning Committee has unanimously approved a 573 home scheme on the site of Morrisons supermarket and petrol station in Chalk Farm. The plans were submitted by the supermarket in partnership with Barratt London and are comprised of four new buildings of up to 14 storeys; 184 homes will be affordable. The officers’ report highlighted the submission’s ‘comprehensive approach to the site offering genuinely mixed use development at an appropriate density in a sustainable location’. The scheme will add to the trend of redevelopments in the area, most noticeably Market Tech’s mixed use scheme at nearby Hawley Wharf which has already delivered a new junior school and will see new homes and a new market on site in the coming years.
Following last week’s announcement that health powers would be devolved to the capital, the Chancellor has agreed to let the Mayor and the boroughs keep additional business rate income that is generated in London next year. This deal was contingent on agreement between the Mayor and London Councils, which represents 32 local authorities and the City of London, on how this extra money (estimated to be around £240m for 2018/19) would be distributed.
GRAYLING DOES THE SPLITS
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has announced a host of rail restructuring plans, which could see the Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) (including the beleaguered Southern Rail) and South Eastern franchises (both run by Govia, a joint venture between Go-Ahead and Keolis), as well as Great Western Rail (run by First Group) dismantled and farmed out to new operators. ‘Connecting people: a strategic vision for rail’ lays out a strategy for reforming the operation of the country’s railways and notably includes proposals to transfer ‘selected services such as the West London line’ to Transport for London (TfL), even though Grayling has previously rejected bids by both Boris Johnson and Sadiq Khan to bring more suburban rail services under the management of London’s transport authority.
HELD AT A RED SIGNAL
Meanwhile, many a long-suffering commuter’s eyebrow was raised last week when the National Audit Office (NAO) highlighted the Government’s decision to delay the final delivery of Thameslink’s upgraded routes through London. According to GTR, about 70% of the overall benefits will still be operational by next May, but plans to run a 24-trains-per-hour service through central London during peak hours have been pushed back by a year to December 2020.
The Government’s new Industrial Strategy, published by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills this Monday, was somewhat disappointing in its few references to London; indeed, the capital was mostly mentioned as the place that the rest of the UK must catch up to, or – ominously– as the place from which the government hopes to lure jobs to other regions. The strategy does pay close attention to the construction sector as a major employer and key driver of growth; additionally the £1.7bn Transforming Cities fund (which will provide for intra-city transport), as well as the new Construction Sector Deal (which includes £170m to support innovation and skills) both appear open to the capital.
GROUNDSWELL FOR BARWELL?
There is talk among Tories in parliament that Theresa May’s chief of staff, Gavin Barwell, might be their best hope of taking back City Hall in 2020. A piece in The Sun notes that if the Prime Minister were to step down a few months after delivering Brexit in March 2019, this would give Barwell the freedom to run for Mayor the following year. Barwell spent seven years as the Conservative MP in the marginal seat of Croydon Central and was a popular and respected Minister for Housing and London before losing his seat in June this year.
LONDON LABOUR ON SONG
Meanwhile, Sadiq Khan addressed the London Labour Conference at the weekend, telling the energised if fractious crowd that ‘there is no corner of London that Labour can’t win’ next May. He specifically set his sights on Wandsworth and Barnet and promised a campaign focused on Brexit, air quality, police cuts and affordable housing.
DYSON REPORT CLEARS LEWISHAM COUNCIL
The independent inquiry into New Bermondsey has rejected all allegations concerning the Council’s conduct around the compulsory purchase order (CPO) for the land not yet owned by developer Renewal, primarily land the Council leases to Millwall Football Club and the Millwall Community Trust. Produced by Lord John Dyson, the report concludes that Council officers and members behaved with propriety, due diligence and in accordance with the applicable codes of practice; including the decisions to use CPO powers in relation to the land leased to Millwall and to pledge £500,000 to the Surrey Canal Sports Foundation (SCSF) – the charity established primarily to raise funds for and to oversee the running of a new sports centre called Energize, to be delivered as part of New Bermondsey. The report follows the Charity Commission’s investigation which found it had no ongoing concerns about the funding of the SCSF; and the ruling of a freedom of information (FOI) tribunal which rejected an attempt by Millwall FC for Lewisham to disclose the sale price of land around the stadium. Lewisham Council has now urged all parties involved in New Bermondsey to work together to deliver 2,400 homes, over 2,000 jobs, a £40m regional sports centre and a new London Overground Station and to ensure Millwall FC remains based in Lewisham. LCA has been supporting developer Renewal on this project since 2004.
XMAS AT KX
Christmas has officially landed in London with the appearance of the King’s Cross festive fir in Granary Square. DOES THE ITERATIVE FIT is a new artwork by Joanne Tatham and Tom O’Sullivan and is a chaos of shapes, colours and lights accompanied by an alternative Christmas soundtrack. It is the latest commission for The King’s Cross Project, curated by Tamsin Dillon and Rebecca Heald. Find out more and read about all the other festive activities coming to King’s Cross this winter here.
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