The New London Plan is Getting Closer
The adoption of the London Plan will bring more certainty for the industry but recent changes will require much greater involvement from boroughs and neighbourhoods to be successful. BNP Paribas Real Estate’s Jeff Field, Head of London Planning, shares his expert view on the latest changes and what they mean.
Back in March of 2020, the Secretary of State issued 11 Directions to the London Mayor on the contents of the new London Plan. Much of this was to do with ensuring a more positive context for increasing new housing across London.
December saw further exchanges between the two, meaning that we are nearing closer to the Plan’s adoption. Last minute exchanges included two familiar battleground areas.
- Housing supply on greenfield or brownfield land – the revised approach further endorses the need for more housing on brownfield land, in particular industrial land. There were also directions for the Green Belt and Metropolitan Open Land but these largely ensured consistency with national policies, even if the wording was loosened compared to earlier drafts.
- Tall buildings – in particular this attracted some attention as tall buildings should now be brought forward in appropriate areas as clearly defined by boroughs, and not in inappropriate areas across the capital.
Recycling Industrial Land
This remains a key national objective and now one which London will need to grapple with. Boroughs can consider releases or substitutions of industrial land where the use is not appropriate or where there are better alternatives and they can re-plan larger areas on a mixed-use basis.
Boroughs are not constrained by the ‘no net loss’ principle of industrial land. However, they will have to become more proactive in managing industrial land and working out long-term strategies.
Tall Buildings and Density
The further points made on tall buildings and density are seen as positive, both for those against or in favour of development. Boroughs will need to identify places where tall buildings are appropriate, meaning that developers must play a role in plan-making, in trying to promote ‘appropriate’ locations.
The Directions in relation to optimising development and density are also positive. There are the well-acknowledged criteria for higher density developments but expansion of Opportunity Areas is encouraged whilst incremental densification is intended, either to match existing high density housing or to achieve changes in the character of areas. Looking forward rather than unnecessarily looking back seems to be the approach.
Adoption of the London Plan will provide helpful certainty on the strategic context, which is of course welcome but it passes the role of dealing with the detail onto boroughs and neighbourhoods, who will now have to deal with these challenges.