Did the Mayor engage…?
Draft London Plan Examination in Public (EiP) 16 January 2019
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M5. Irrespective of matter M4, did the Mayor engage constructively, actively and on an on- going basis during the preparation of the Plan:
a) with all relevant local authorities and other prescribed bodies in London? (Bold type is the questions posed by the panel in advance.)
Mostly the panel and participants were in agreement that engagement did take place, thus, if the duty did apply to the Mayor – then they did conform. However, there were disputes about whether this engagement was constructive, active, meaningful and productive.
Participant Mr Edwards (Hillingdon Council) argued that the Mayor did not comply and highlighted the Mayor’s legal obligation for engagement in the GLA act 1999 section 335, 339 and 348 (public participation, publicity, consultation and outputs). He emphasised that the Mayor did engage on the basis of SHLAA methodology that rolled forward. The Mayor expressed a commitment, following consultation on the methodology, that the matters would be developed and shared with Boroughs.That is what he should have done and he did not do it. The Mayor agrees that this further consultation did not take place, but continuous engagement had done so. The Mayor recognised his duty, and failed to do this without any legitimate reasons, claims Hillingdon.
The panel ask the Mayor what statutory requirements apply to the Mayor in consultation. The Mayor responded with Section 32 which sets out carrying out all duties outlined in Section 30 in determining what consultation is appropriate. This emphasises that engagement must include boroughs but it is not a duty to consult.
b) all relevant local authorities and prescribed bodies outside London on strategic and cross boundary matters in the wider South East?
Some participants asserted that again engagement was carried out but many important things weren’t resolved. These included issues of housing, excavation spoil & waste and strategic infrastructure priorities.
The Mayor further insists that engagement with the wider south east did take place through partnership meetings, officer working group meetings, steering group meetings and summits. In those meetings 5/20 addressed housing.
There is now a gap of 1000 dwellings per year between London’s planned supply and estimated need which is a small figure (1.5% of overall housing need). The Mayor is clear that he is not asking authorities outside of London to address this to supply but is applying the willing partners approach in order to provide some contingency to address this gap. The Mayor acknowledges this approach takes time and states if they are consistently overtime and not achieving KPI targets they will look at a partial review of the plan.
Participants argue if more engagement had been made, so the wider south east could understand the ‘willing partners’ approach and what it entails – possibly this could be more successful.
The Mayor indicates that it is not practical to move people outside of London as the mayor has no jurisdiction out of London. There is no government incentive to move people out of London.
LB Bromley remind the mayor that the previous inspector gave advice for future plans which was not followed up, with zero outcome. This context highlights lack of meaningful engagement.
East of England Authorities highlight issues as to how productive engagement has been especially in the outcome of the plan. Speaker questions where the impact of the shortfall of housing this will fall and states that failures are ‘London failures’ and should not impact of south England.
South East England Authorities also agree that they are unclear on what the ‘willing partner’ approach entails.
The Mayor disagrees and states that is not true that they have not made any outcomes from engagement. They argue they are jointly engaging with government in issues of housing, jointly addressed infrastructure priorities, they have produced demographic and labour projections, projections on local enterprise partnerships and their contribution to the wider south east.
The draft plan outlines the willing partner relationship yet there is not a one size fits all approach. The Mayor argues if they do not take this approach the only alternative is for authorities to take a more mechanistic approach.
Participants again place emphasis on the lack of dialogue between the Mayor and local authorities.
Notes made by Lyuboslav Petrov and Sophie Hardcastle