Following the Examination in Public on the London Plan, which was held between 15 January and 22 May 2019, the Panel of three Inspectors appointed by the Secretary of State, have issued their report and recommendations to the Mayor.
Green Belt review on the horizon?
Importantly, the Panel Report has advised that the draft plan would fail to deliver the identified housing need of 66,000 homes a year due to an optimistic reliance on small sites. The Inspectors have recommended that a target of 52,000 homes per year should instead be adopted, despite failing to meet the need for homes, because “the inescapable conclusion is that if London’s development needs are to be met in future then a review of the Green Belt should be undertaken to at least establish any potential for sustainable development.
Furthermore, the Inspectors recommend that the total London-wide target for 2019/20 - 2028/29 be reduced by approximately 20% to 522,850, from 649,350. Accordingly, that every local authority’s target is reduced, with the exception of the City of London, Islington and the Old Oak Development Corporation (see table below).
While the inspectors did not conclude that the London Plan should be delayed while a review is undertaken, they instead advised that a commitment to a future Green Belt review is undertaken as part of the next London Plan. The Inspectors have also advised that the existing Green Belt policy, which recommends that all developments harming the Green Belt be refused, is amended to clarify that ‘special circumstances’ may allow Green Belt schemes to go ahead.
A summary of other key changes is set out below:
- The Plan should give further consideration to the categorisations of boroughs and the management of industrial floorspace to provide a more positive strategic framework for the provision of industrial capacity.
- A reasoned justification should be added to policy E4 to refer to boroughs considering whether the Green Belt in their area needs to be reviewed to provide additional industrial capacity, and also to refer to consideration being given to identifying locations for industrial development as part of a future London-wide Green Belt review.
- Delete policy SI11 hydraulic fracturing, which removes a blanket restriction on the exploration, appraisal or production of shale gas via hydraulic fracturing within London.
- Delete policy T8 airports, and add northwest runway at Heathrow Airport, as this policy relating to aviation and development at Heathrow and other airports "is not consistent with national policy or otherwise justified”, which will provide greater flexibility for airport growth at Heathrow.
- Reduce the cycle parking requirements for specialist older persons accommodation and purpose built student accommodation.
- Modify policy DF1 "to make it clear that the requirements relating to site-specific viability assessments only apply where relevant policies in local plans are up to date", including local viability assessments”.
- Modify various other parts of the Plan to ensure that it is effective, justified and consistent with national policy.
The Mayor will now consider the Panel report and recommendations and prepare an Intend to Publish version of the London Plan, which should be sent to the Secretary of State within the next six weeks, with a schedule of the panel’s recommendation and the Mayor’s response to them. Subsequently, it is expected that the London Plan will be formally adopted in early 2020.
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