The Southwark Local Plan 2022

31st March 2022

The London Borough of Southwark adopted their new Local Plan on 23rd February 2022. The Plan will shape the Borough over the next 15 years and states that it aims to address current issues such as the housing crisis and the climate emergency.

The Southwark Plan 2019-2036 truly is ‘local’ given that our London office has been based on Union Street in Southwark since 2016. We are already getting stuck into the ambitious new planning policies and strategic targets, which present a number of opportunities and challenges for developers in the area.

The Plan sets out the following key policies:

  • A minimum of 35% of any new housing is required to be affordable across all schemes, producing 10+ units, including student accommodation, shared living and private rental.
  • Smaller residential developments (9 units or fewer) are also required to provide at least 35% affordable housing or, in the absence of an onsite provision, a financial contribution.
  • A new fast-track process has been introduced for developments delivering 40% or more of social rented and intermediate rent homes.
  • 22 new sites of importance have been designated for nature conservation and newly protected open space.
  • All new development is required to leave the natural environment in a measurably better state than it was beforehand (known as biodiversity net gain).
  • The Plan’s carbon saving measures exceed those set out in the London Plan and where emissions cannot be reduced on site to the necessary degree, planning obligations or financial contributions will be required to offset elsewhere.
  • The creation of 58,000 new jobs, including the provision of at least 1,000 new jobs through the Southwark Green New Deal.
  • Developments made up of 500sqm GIA of employment workspace or more, will need to make at least 10% of the floorspace affordable. The discount rates will be secured for at least 30 years. Again, where this is not possible on site, payment can be made to allow for off-site provision.

In addition to the Council building thousands more homes themselves, these key policies address the urgent need for new homes that local people can “genuinely afford”. Furthermore, Southwark is ahead of the curve in its approach to sustainability with measures that go above and beyond the national standard. Both initiatives are admirable, however, these much higher targets need to be considered as early as possible in the design process, as they could compromise the viability of development proposals altogether.

Should you have any questions about how the Southwark Local Plan applies in practice and how it may affect your development, please do not hesitate to get in contact with the London Team at Bell Cornwell.

Geoff Megarity, Principal Planner

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