London landscape

What will the new London Plan mean for the capital?

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has published his draft London Plan for consultation. It's a new plan, a full replacement of the current version, originally published in 2011 by Boris Johnson, and only the third full replacement plan since Ken Livingstone published the first London Plan in 2004.

The new Plan is a key document, planning being one of the main areas in which the office of Mayor has power to shape the development of London. Its approach has been widely trailed through consultation on other strategies such as the Transport, Environment and Housing Strategies as well as Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG), published earlier this year. Underpinning the document's approach is the concept of ‘Good Growth’, growth that is socially and economically inclusive and environmentally sustainable.

Fundamentally, the London Plan sets out a strategy that relies on brownfield development and intensification, which is not the departure from the philosophy of the existing Plan that had been billed. Where the new Plan really does differ, however, is in its level of detail.

Our initial impression is that it is a very comprehensive plan, covering a wider range of issues and providing more detailed policy than any previous iteration of the London Plan. In many areas the clarity provided by the policies is welcome. However, this is a double-edged sword as it introduces new requirements and policy tests which might not be conducive to speeding up planning decisions and housing delivery. It could also be argued that the new Plan strays into territory that goes beyond the remit of a strategic document.

The recognition that more homes need to be built is long overdue, but despite a 53 per cent increase in housing delivery targets, analysis carried out by Savills suggests that these figures still fall short of the 94,000 new homes a year needed to improve affordability.

The support for higher density development and identification of new opportunity areas is welcomed, as is support for other tenures such as purpose built rental accommodation and shared living accommodation. However, the devil, or at least the delivery, is in the detail and weighing in at over 500 pages it is a lot of detail to go into. Consultation will run for three months and it is critical that the development industry engages with the process.

Further information

Read more: Download the Draft London Plan

In plain English

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