Emerging London Plan: Sustainability Standards

3rd June 2020

As part of newly published draft guidance by the Greater London Authority (GLA), detailed assessments of a building’s energy use over its entire life cycle would be required to be submitted in support of planning applications. The published draft guidance comprises four pre-consultation papers and, if adopted, will outline the steps that applicants will need to take to meet the sustainability requirements of the emerging London Plan.

The proposed requirements would result in strategic planning applications needing to be accompanied by Circular Economy Statements, outlining the “reuse of materials resulting from demolition or remediation, how use of new materials will be minimised, waste management strategies and performance monitoring”.

The circular economy is defined as one in which “materials are retained in use at their highest value for as long as possible and are then reused or recycled, leaving a minimum of residual waste”. In addition, information pertaining to an end-of-life-strategy, notably how materials will be disassembled and reused, will be also be required.

The latest guidance also sets out information required as part of Whole-Life-Cycle Carbon assessments under the emerging London Plan. Such an assessment would include details of “carbon emissions resulting from the construction and the use of a building over its entire life, including its demolition and disposal”. This guidance is something to be aware of, as assessments would need to be submitted as part of the pre-application, submission and post-construction stages.

In line with the sustainability agenda, updated guidance for energy assessments within the emerging London Plan sets out information on the “be seen” policy. If adopted, applicants would be required to submit building energy use data, carbon emissions and carbon offsetting estimates as part of planning applications. The use of s106 agreements requiring applicants to provide updates on actual performance once developments are completed and in use would also be introduced.

In his recent response to the draft London Plan, the Housing Minister did not criticise the Mayor of London’s proposed sustainability policies. Although the emerging London Plan will need to undergo amendments elsewhere, these policies clearly indicate the trajectory sustainability standards will take. Driven by an intensifying pressure imposed by the outbreak of Covid-19, sustainability guidance will no doubt have increasing weight in the decision-making process as we emerge from this crisis and respond to the ongoing environmental emergency.

To enquire further please contact Associate, Jamie Wallace.

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