Strategies, Strategies…

This spring and early summer of 2017 the Mayor of London is mainly writing strategies. Lots of them. Just Space and its member-groups are joining in as far as we are allowed.

Last Autumn, 2016, he issued A City for All Londoners which summarised his plans for London. This was the subject of a series of consultation events with ‘invited stakeholders’. These meetings were transcribed and published; the whole process has been a great improvement on what happened under both the previous mayors. Whether this is a direct result of Just Space proposals and demands over the last 2 years, we don’t know, but we are pleased.

Just Space had been seeking ‘co-production’ of strategies between the mayor’s staff and community groups. That’s not happening but the GLA officers are taking part in a lot of meetings during the plan-writing period, some hosted by the GLA, others by Just Space. We’ll summarise these here, and post reports as they become available.

Housing: Just Space fielded a diverse and representative team to meet with senior GLA housing staff on 31 March to discuss the scope and content of the Mayor’s Housing Strategy and the housing aspects of the London Plan. There was good news on community-led forms of housing (co-ops, co-housing, community land trusts and so on) which will benefit from a construction budget and a proposed “hub” service to advise and support groups setting out on innovative projects. There were clarifications on many other housing topics, including some where there are strong disagreements like concepts and definitions of various levels of rent and the priority to be attached to social rent housing, on grounds both of affordability and security. There was discussion too of plans for private renting, wider housing needs (older persons, travellers, black and minority ethnic communities) and new powers to be sought in the next round of devolution. Detailed notes of the meeting, agreed between Just Space and the GLA, are here (PDF).

On the Economy, there are 3 meetings. At a first one Just Space people representing community groups defending workspace, small businesses and manufacturing presented a powerful case for ending the losses of workspaces in London, especially outside the centre, to protect the diversity of the economy in the face of Brexit, to protect local jobs and reduce the need to travel. At a second, which the GLA hosted as a formal part of its consultation, there was a focus on fairness, one of the new mayor’s agenda words. A third meeting focused on skills, training and productivity. The discussions should influence the mayor’s London Economy Strategy, aspects of the London Plan and the local work of the regeneration and housing/land teams in Opportunity Areas.

There have been two meetings on Environment: one at FOE, a second on making London a more circular economy (in which waste is minimised, unwanted outputs from all activities being re-used as inputs by others), and on making London a more blue-green city, making the best of green areas and links and of waterways and water management. These discussions will feed into the mayor’s London Environment Strategy and also into the London Plan. Just Space had made careful responses earlier this year to the draft Scoping Study on the Integrated Impact Assessment which will be prepared alongside and as a part of the strategy.

There has also been a meeting between Just Space and some member groups and the GLA team working on the Health Inequalities Strategy.

Finally, there will shortly be a meeting between Just Space and the London Plan team (now led by Jennifer Peters, following the retirement of John Lett who has anchored London strategic planning since before the GLA was even formed). The London Plan is the crucial document for two reasons: it links all the other strategies, and especially their spatial (geographical) integration and it is subject to a more adequate democratic consultation process including public hearings next year. Just Space has already commented on the Scoping Study for the Integrated Impact Assessment of the London Plan, calling for changes in the process and the evaluation of a community-generated 4th alternative strategy London Plan IIA Scoping Report- comments by Just Space March 2017

Just Space has (in August 2017) presented a concise statement of the community-based alternative strategy, which the GLA is now considering for evaluation against 3 other options.

Below is a list of all the Strategies currently being revised or re-written. The links are to the previous versions except for Police and Crime which has already been revised and adopted and Transport, the draft of which is now out for consultation.

A complete topic-by-topic list of Just Space activities and submissions is to be found under the Next London Plan menu above.