The London Plan – to be or not to be?

7th May 2020
Virtual Panel Discussion

Planning | Viability | Community Engagement | Sustainability | Transport

* Registration is now closed *

On Friday 22nd May, whilst the city we know and love was in lockdown, we seized the opportunity to get together online and discuss the future of London with a panel of  industry experts. Their valuable insight provided a holistic overview of the Intend to Publish London Plan and its implications from the point of view of five disciplines whilst considering the future priorities for each of them.

Read on for a summary of the key points made during our live debate and you can access a recording of the discussion here.

Chairing the event and providing the planning perspective were Bell Cornwell’s

Rebekah Jubb, Partner & Jamie Wallace, Associate


Joined by guest panellists providing expert industry knowledge:

Summary of Key Points

Topic of Discussion

In light of the delays to Mayoral and Local Elections, Sadiq Khan has more time to finalise his long overdue London Plan and address the issues raised in March by Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick. Whether the adoption of the Mayor’s plan is achievable before his term is up, including any necessary amendments in response to Covid-19 itself, is not entirely certain. London’s fate is being deliberated and decisions for future development need to be made –  how long will this political game of ‘football’ continue?


Read our article Positive Steps: Keeping the Planning System Moving’ for an overview of what was covered in the virtual discussion from a planning standpoint and announcements that have been made since.


  • Have been working with the fast track process for a while and the 35% target has been uncontroversial.
  • Early and late stage reviews are being used by the GLA and boroughs even though they are not yet in an adopted policy.
  • The SoS comments on the draft London Plan did not raise issue with early and late stage reviews.
  • There has been a shift in affordable products with 60% rented accommodation being divided between London Affordable Rent and London Living Rent.
  • The First Homes consultation may supersede this.

Community Engagement

  • With the Mayoral elections delayed until May 2021 there is plenty of time for the SoS and the Mayor of London to work together to publish the new London Plan.
  • The game of ‘political football’ and arguing on funding for TfL and the GLA is narrowing this window of opportunity. There will need to be concessions and likely the Mayor will need to give way on Metropolitan Open Land policy.
  • It is anticipated that Sadiq Khan will be able to navigate the political process and the new London Plan will be adopted. It is predicted that Sadiq Khan will win the London Mayoral election.
  • Virtual planning committees likely here to stay in some form of hybrid arrangement. Lots of digital engagement software out there for use in tandem with existing engagement tools.


  • There are five key areas of focus within the emerging London Plan including energy/carbon emissions, overheating, Whole Life-cycle Carbon assessments, air quality and Urban Greening Factors.
  • Areas of focus are moving at different speeds and being applied differently by LPAs, although the majority are now requesting detail of a scheme’s consideration of these topics.
  • GLA topic papers published for consultation in April cover emerging policies. Additional assessments required including Whole Life-cycle Carbon assessments, which will need to be addressed at the pre-applications stage.
  • S106 obligations will require updates on actual performance once developments are completed and in use.
  • The emerging London Plan is already unable to keep up with changes since its first drafting. With the decarbonisation of the grid, there has been a shift towards heat pumps rather than CHP. The draft Plan still pushes district heat networks, which is a contradiction.


  • In providing traffic surveys, officers and TfL are allowing the use of historic data. Healthy Streets Assessments can continue in accordance with the new London Plan.
  • Central London boroughs are encouraging car free developments. Outer London boroughs are still resisting reduced car parking levels. There is inconsistent application across boroughs.
  • Reduction in car parking and increase in cycle parking is a priority for the new London Plan. It is important to allow for space within scheme designs from early stage.
  • Delivery and servicing requirements are preferred on site. There has been a shift away from day servicing during peak hours and promoting night-time servicing. Operationally, this has some implications in terms of management.

For further details on any of the topics covered during the virtual discussion, please contact or call 020 3960 1530.

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