Breaking: Minister boxes Mayor’s ears

Today, Friday 13th, the Secretary of State wrote a very aggressive letter to the Mayor of London, chastising him for the inadequate performance of earlier plans (notably the under-production of housing) and using his powers to direct changes in the London Plan.

The Plan is thus – in effect – in Special Measures.

Letter and an annex specifying re-wordings are here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/london-plan-letter-from-the-secretary-of-state-for-housing

He takes it for granted that escalating house prices are the result of inadequate building and that more building would be the solution, so he is extremely critical of the Mayor’s failure to build and will not accept the Plan without a list of changes (detailed in the Annex).

The government priority is the housing ladder and not social rented housing. He favours family housing but otherwise most of his points are contrary to the aims of Just Space and its member groups. We were already highly critical of the Plan on multiple grounds of worsening inequality and on environmental grounds. How much worse it’s going to be now.

— Mandatory residents’ ballots on regeneration estates, which have been a key win for us (& are recommended in his own ministry’s guidance), he calls ‘onerous’;
— Expansion of Opportunity Areas and proposes further jacking up densities there and in other already-dense areas;
— Wants the low-to-mid density areas (ie the suburbs) protected with ‘gentle densification’;
— Deletes “No Net Loss” of Industrial Land;
— Metropolitan Open Land quantum can be reduced.
This drastic action by the minister would have made it impossible for the Plan to be revised and adopted before the pre-election shut-down (called purdah) but the election has now been postponed until 2021 so the Mayor can go ahead…
Please let us have comments below or links to assessments and analysis. We’ll report further soon.
A first summary is by a firm of planning consultants, Lichfields, who comment from an implicitly pro-developer standpoint: https://lichfields.uk/blog/2020/march/13/housing-secretary-directs-amendments-to-the-draft-london-plan
Meenakshi Sharma (Ilford NOISE) writes:  I have received a tweet from Assembly Member Andrew Boff saying We can only convene if the Mayor presents a plan to us. If he does so we will’. I have asked him if it is solely up to the Mayor to present the plan or if the other LA members can ask for him to do so.  

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