The London Plan: 13th March Update – Robert Jenrick criticises the London housing strategy

16th March 2020

Robert Jenrick MP, Housing Secretary, has delayed the publication of Sadiq Khan’s housing proposal, pending “significant improvements”, stating that the current draft plan, cannot be published.

On 13th March, a firm letter was issued to the Mayor of London regarding his ‘Intend to Publish’ London Plan.

The Housing Secretary writes, that the existing level of housing delivery and affordable homes is “deeply disappointing”, with no improvement on the existing or proposed housing numbers and a large increase in the price of the “average new build home”.

Strategic sites have been stalled and the identified targets are considered too low for the considered need, ultimately increasing problems of affordability, homelessness and damaging London’s economic climate.

Robert Jenrick also states that Sadiq “should also be looking to deliver homes which people of different ages, backgrounds and situations in life can live in. Your Plan tilts away from this, towards one-bed flats at the expense of all else, driving people out of our capital when they want to have a family.”

The following key points are expected to have some direct impact on planning in London:

  • Proactive working needed with “ambitious” London Boroughs
  • Small sites policies to be re-considered to bring forward appropriate sites
  • Industrial land policies considered “unrealistic”, required to remove the “no net loss” requirement to ensure Boroughs can bring forward new sites and consider optimum uses for their areas
  • Housing mix to be re-assessed to safeguard the number of family homes proportionate its need, including reducing the subdivision of existing family homes
  • Building density to be optimised in areas of existing high density (e.g. near stations) with “greater density around high streets and town centres”
  • Policy T8 Aviation (which supports aviation and London airport capacity) shall not be delivered before the London Plan. The government needs time to review a recent Court of Appeal judgement relating to the Airports National Policy Statement.
  • Green Belt development policy wording to be altered to ensure it is in line with national Green Belt guidance.

Criticising the Mayor specifically, Jenrick said “Housing in our capital is simply too important for the underachievement and drift displayed under your Mayoralty, and now in your Plan, to continue.”

Sadiq’s mayoral duties are to continue for now, with the Mayoral elections delayed until 7th May 2021, due to coronavirus. Sadiq will have further time to respond to the Housing Secretary and seek formal adoption of the Plan.

We wait in anticipation for the Mayor’s response. For any information on the upcoming changes and how they may affect your planning project, please contact Bell Cornwell’s London office.

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