Monday, 22 January 2018

London Plan Conference

Just Space Conference
20th January 2018

 JUST SPACE  organised a meeting for community groups to hear about the London Plan from the GLA Planners. It is a vast subject and the following are just a few of the highlights of the conference.

1. Jules Pipe – Deputy Mayor in charge of revising the London Plan introduced the Conference by saying the conference would not be recording people’s comments. If they wanted to comment on the plan they had to go online and respond by the 2nd March 2018

2. An independent Inspector led inquiry will be held but it will only take written responses Examination in Public.

3. The key statement is Intensification and Densification.

4. London is expected to grow to 10.5 million by 2041 and need an extra 66,000 homes per year. The Green Belt will be protected and the Mayor wants to encourage development on small sites i.e. take an existing petrol station with no homes and few jobs currently and in its place build a 10 storey block with a petrol station on the ground floor, offices on the next few floors and the rest residential.

5. Rachel Rooney is the Planning Manager in overall charge of the London Plan and outlined its key objectives which would be directed at the Boroughs and will create strong communities.
a.       Best Use of Land – 80% of all trips to be walking or cycling. Protect the Green Belt. Increase Opportunity Areas by 9. (Currently 38). Collaborative approach with the Boroughs.
b.      Healthy City – National City Park with 50% green cover – this includes green roofs etc. Promote collaboration with health groups.
c.       Housing – Much greater role for variety of housing, 66k homes to be built each year, loss of green space to be mitigated. Affordable 50% but if under 35% the developers cost viability study required. They want to encourage developers to go for more than 50% affordable as that will speed up the planning process. Grant funding from the Government is needed. Increase density especially near transport interchanges and Town Centres.
d.      Economy – Protect key offices and workspaces, resist conversion of offices to homes, too much industrial land has already been released for housing. Improve digital connectivity and create Enterprise Zones.
e.       Efficiency – mitigate impact on climate, zero carbon by 2015, energy efficiency. A new fire safety statement will be issued.

      6. It was then opened for questions. Most of the questions related to housing and the problems of affordability for all sections of society. A major concern was that community groups felt alienated from the process and were not involved properly.

       7. Community Panel – a panel of community reps gave their views of the plan. Building stronger communities an imperative. Residents need to engage with the process and respond with their views including at Borough level. Doubt about the need for so much housing post Brexit. More research needed on the benefits of Opportunity areas.

       8. Workshops –
a.       Housing – need social housing, viability study allows developers to dodge the issues, accountability needed and more control by tenants.
b.      Regeneration – Community engagement needed, improve networking, community led plans should be incentivised, find new financial models.
c.       Environment – scrap plastic, create circular economy, and reduce need for transport.
d.      Inclusive Communities – multi facets of London population and food. Unresponsive structures from GLA, and communities should be responsive to each other.

       9. Just Space launched their new Policy Documents – Land Reform, Industrial Strategy, Social Impact Assessment and Health.

By which time the conference had overrun!

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