Just Space is active on many fronts and this post is a catch-up.
The hearings (Examination in Public, EiP) on the draft new London Plan ended in May with about 83 community groups participating. Our understanding is that what now happens is as follows:
The Panel produces a report recommending changes to the Plan for the Mayor’s consideration, which the Mayor can decide to accept or (giving his reasons) to reject.
Once the Mayor has decided which of the suggested changes he intends to accept, he will send a revised draft Plan to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. They then have six weeks to decide whether or not they wish to direct that any changes should be made.
Assuming the Secretary of State decides not to make a direction, the Mayor is required to lay a copy of the draft proposals before the London Assembly, which has 21 days to decide whether to reject it in its entirety (rejection requires two thirds of those voting in favour). Provided the London Assembly does not decide to reject the Plan, the Mayor can then publish the London Plan.
Just Space has written to the GLA asking that the Panel report – which we understand has been received by City Hall – should be published right away in the interests of transparency. There is no rule we know of that requires the Mayor to withold it while the recommendations are considered.
In the coming months Just Space plans to review the outcomes of the London Plan EiP and consider the main issues to take forward. This could include the preparation of a 2nd edition of the Community-Led Plan with new chapters (see publications page) and with new policy ideas (proposed – for discussion).
Just Space and its member groups challenged the draft plan on many deficiencies, notably:
- Failure to discharge the Public Sector Equalities Duty (PSED) throughout the planning process
- Failure adequately to consider alternative strategies, notably the Just Space community-led plan. LSE London made a similar challenge, arguing the need for an explicit evaluation of alternative strategies beyond the London built-up area.
- A mistaken approach to housing based on maximising total housing numbers, rather than maximising the stock of social and low-rent housing. This mistake will lead to the backlog of unmet housing need getting even worse in the coming years. [note added 28 Sept: the press reports a rumour/leak that the Panel recommends lowering the target to a more plausible level.]
- Failure adequately to protect the jobs and services in London’s industrial areas, in and behind high streets and in town centres as housing is prioritised. This failing makes the economy less robust, increases the need to travel and would have regressive effects on many protected equalities groups.
- Weak approaches to climate change and bio-diversity, lacking urgency and timelines of targets.
- The absence of convincing ways of paying for social and physical infrastructure without cutting in to the provision of low-rent housing; contributing to unsupportable increases in housing density and probable land price inflation.
- Continuing failure to devise transparent and participatory mechanisms for the designation, planning and implementation of Opportunity Areas.
Universities – Communities Knowledge Exchange
Following on from a session at the Tate Exchange in July 2018, Sarah Bell at the UCL Engineering Exchange successfully applied for funding of £30,000, half of which is earmarked for Just Space to convene joint meetings between community groups and University participants. This 12 month programme of work (which started in January 2019) considers how we scale up the support on offer from Universities to community groups, and the structures and mechanisms that are needed for effective partnership working London wide. Just Space has engaged Sona Mahtani to co-ordinate and may engage others. A free conference will take place on 23 October: details and booking at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/conference-universities-and-community-groups-collaborate-tickets-74436560757
Calthorpe Community Garden – pilot social impact assessment
The Calthorpe Community Garden (in Camden) responded to a planning application by UCL Estates for the Eastman Dental Clinic buildings to be redeveloped as a research centre on neurology and dementia, an application that has significant impacts on the garden and the surrounding community. Just Space was commissioned to undertake a community profile, impact assessment and propose ideas for future-proofing the Calthorpe project. This has been an opportunity to pilot a Social Impact Assessment – a kind of pre-development study which Just Space has long insisted should be normal in major developments. The work was completed in August, the fieldwork being undertaken by Sona Mahtani and Karl Murray. Meanwhile Camden Council received the report and has now granted permission. Calthorpe SUMMARY August 2019 | Calthorpe Report_ community_impact August 2019 final
London Market Campaigners network
Just Space has contributed to the national research project on Traditional Street Markets, led by Sara Gonzales and Myfanwy Taylor at the University of Leeds. Funds were identified to support a Conference and networking between London market campaigns. Just Space was invited to hold the funds of £9,500. Saif Osmani is convening the project, with support from Mama D. The project is due to end in October and a funding application will be made to try and sustain this emerging network.
Myfanwy has gained a small grant from Leeds University to hold a workshop on industrial strategy. Just Space is a partner. The aim is to bring together academics from the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester and Liverpool to discuss how to produce industrial strategies in a collaborative way, including with community groups.
Land Justice Network – towards a land reform bill or manifesto
Just Space was one of the founding partners of this national network. Our main contribution has been to a Policy working group, which has produced “Working towards a People’s Land Policy: land reform from the ground up”. This report is now published (download below). Just Space is asked to share this document among its members and gain feedback. It would be best to do this through a workshop discussion. The longer term aim is to introduce a Land Reform Bill (England) to the Parliament. Peoples-Land-Policy-draft-Sep-2019
Greater Carpenters Neighbourhood Forum
The Neighbourhood Plan, which Just Space has been supporting for a number of years, has been submitted for examination. This is the first in London that is based on a council estate. The examination is likely to be in the autumn. Before this, the LLDC Local Pan has been examined in September and includes a housing target for the Greater Carpenters which implies the demolition of the council estate. Marian Larragy and Richard Lee are supporting the Forum, with funds from Locality. They report that the arguments of the Forum were very well made and appeared to carry weight with the inspector, whose report is now awaited. The key issue is that the draft Local Plan contains a housing target for the Carpenters Estate which could be achieved only by a great deal of demolition of existing homes. The pending Neighbourhood Plan, by contrast, proposes to retain existing homes (avoiding community displacement and waste of the embodied carbon) and increase the density by adding a great deal of infill housing – though less than the LLDC target.
Fairville – proposed EU research project
The project title is “analysing alliances between universities, civil society and professionals: research and collaborative urban action towards a just city”. It involves participants from UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Portugal, Netherlands, Spain, Lebanon, Thailand, Senegal. It is convened by groups in Paris and the UK participants are Just Space and the UCL DPU (Development Planning Unit). Stage 1 approval has been achieved, and the deadline for a full funding application is April 2020.
Council estates research with LTF, Kings College London and Leicester University
This research examines what happens to the residents of council estates when faced with the threat of demolition. Interviews have taken place with residents or ex-residents of 6 case study estates (all in London). Data has been collected for all council estate demolitions in London since 1997. Funds are available to Just Space to hold a Conference in February 2020 and to use other methods to disseminate the findings of the research.
Requests for Just Space to attend/speak at conferences and seminars
Just Space has had recent invitations to events on community engagement in planning, led by London’s think tanks.
Centre for London – Developing Trust Conference (speakers –Eileen Conn, Leslie Barson, Michael Ball)
Town and Country Planning Association Inclusive Planning in London Stakeholder Summit (speaker – Robin Brown)
New London Architecture (NLA) Enabling Communities round tables (speakers – Eileen Conn, Richard Lee)
What should be the criteria for Just Space accepting/ declining these invitations? Is taking part in a lively discussion (and promoting our ideas) sufficient reason to attend, or should we be seeking to change the analysis and approach of the think tanks?
Grand Union Alliance (GUA)
JS was commissioned back in Spring 2016 by the London Tenants Federation (LTF) to help LTF deliver UCL community-based research supporting the community network GUA in Old Oak Park Royal area (Mayoral Development Corporation OPDC). Although due to end in Spring 2018 when LTF’s involvement ended, the £15K received was stretched to February 2019 and has assisted London Plan work (on OAs). Since then, further support to GUA, particularly the OPDC’s Local Plan EiP, has been provided through an agreement with UCL Geography.
On looking for resources to sustain GUA, the OPDC has asked the GUA to make a proposal to OPDC Board (September) to facilitate an OPDC-GUA continuing ‘dialogue’. This could provide funds to hire a support worker plus ‘buying in’ of advice from JS but issues of independence need consideration, For the forseeable future, JS would be the parent body for the GUA.
This post will be augmented in the coming days with links and reports. 25 Sept 2019.