Impact Assessment: is it real?

Planning documents have to be the subject of impact assessments which evaluate them against a whole set of requirements and criteria – environmental, equalities and so on. These assessments are supposed to be an integral part of the planning process, enabling plans to be modified and improved in the light of the results.

In the new spirit of better consultation, City Hall has consulted Just Space on the Scoping Reports which set out the briefs for these assessments – which are now combined as “Integrated Impact Assessments” (IIAs).  We welcome these opportunities to input community points of view at the formative stage and we commented some weeks ago on the one about the Mayor’s Environment Strategy. Our comments were posted here. And another on Transport.

We have now been able to comment on the scoping report on the IIA for the London Plan itself. We do have major reservations about it: whether the current draft version will explore the right issues, whether it takes on board the comments made at the Stakeholder Workshops held last November and whether the draft Plan will be able to take advantage of the findings before it goes to press.  Since the IIA is due to be published at the same time as the draft London Plan this seems impossible.  You can read the Just Space comments here (PDF) London Plan IIA Scoping Report- comments by Just Space March 2017

This post may be expanded in the coming days.

Estate regeneration: start again

Consultations have just ended on the mayor’s draft Good Practice Guide on Estate Regeneration. First impressions are that a strong group of resident, community and other organisations are severely critical of this draft.

The Just Space response is strongly critical but proposes a co-production approach to writing a better version.  The key points are:

  1. Good practice guidance would be valuable, but this draft guidance is not good.
  2. Just Space wants to continue working with the Mayor to improve it through a process of co-production with officers, Assembly Members and key stakeholders.
  3. Top priority must be to protect the dwindling stock of social rented homes – the only ones affordable to Londoners on ordinary incomes (and even then often needing housing benefit to do so). Regeneration schemes should never lead to a reduction in social rented housing as they have in the past and continue to do.
  4. Decisions on estate regeneration must always include a refurbishment option among those explored.
  5. Consultations must be supported by transparent information and independent impact assessments and take place from the earliest stage, conforming to the rules affirmed by the Supreme Court.
  6. Any regeneration scheme which would involve demolition or displacement must be supported by a majority in an independent ballot of residents.

Read the full Just Space response: https://justspacelondon.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/js-response-on-estate-regeneration-march-2017.pdf

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Affordable housing

JustSpace is resisting the switch of resources away from meeting the most pressing housing needs and urging the Mayor to stick to his manifesto commitments about “genuine affordability”. We are also concerned that the proposal to grant privileges and exemptions to big firms which build privately for rent are ill-considered and should not be introduced in what is only a guidance document.

The full Just Space submission on the Mayor’s draft is here below or you can download a PDF which is better for printing.  The Mayor’s draft SPG is here. A response by George Turner, concentrating on “viability” assessment on which he is specially expert, is on his web site OurCity.London here.  Response by the expert 35% campaign is here. The London Tenants Federation response is here: LTF response to Housing affordablity and viability spg (F)

Affordable Housing and Viability Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) 

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#LDNworkspace – an innovation

Later (21 Feb) This experiment generated a mass of tweets which the London Assembly Economy Committee staff consolidated in a Storify here.  We’ll add updates from the meeting when we have them.

15 Feb: This is an innovation in democracy: Just Space in discussion with the Chair of the London Assembly Economy Committee is experimenting with tweets as a way for us to inform the committee’s debate on Tuesday morning 21st February on small enterprises: access to workspace, impact of the business rates increase and what support is needed from the Mayor of London. The briefing for the panel debate is here and the debate should be webcast.

The following guests have been invited to attend

  • Simon Pitkeathley, Chief Executive, Camden Town Unlimited; 
  • Natalie Campbell, Co-founder and CEO, A Very Good Company; 
  • Dr Patria Roman, Chair of Trustees, Latin Elephant and member of Just Space;
  • Ben Johnson, Senior Advisor, Business and Digital Policy, Greater London Authority;
  • David Fletcher, Chief Executive, Wimbletech Community Interest Company.

The Committee is keen to hear from a wide range of business and community interests and have arranged to gather views, concerns and suggestions through Twitter, under #LDNworkspace on three main questions:
•       Does your business find it difficult to access workspace in London?
•       How will business rate increases affect you?
•       What further support could the Mayor of London give you and your SME?

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Housing trumps everything

The severity of London’s housing crisis is being used as grounds to displace other activities on which London depends: office, workshop, industrial, retail and social enterprises. Even more of an own goal is the way London sacrifices its remaining social housing to achieve extra total housing numbers, but less affordable. Just Space is challenging the way this is done partly through what looks like a technical/professional exercise of listing sites but is really policy-making in disguise. Continue reading