London Plan finally out

2 March 2021 The London Plan has finally been adopted and published. This page on the GLA site has free downloads of the Plan and various linked documents including a summary presentation. Paper copies will be available for £50 and may be pre-ordered now.

Our view is that the draft plan issued in 2017 was a great disappointment; subsequent changes have included some small improvements but have also made it worse. Our latest view is here and you can trace back to our earlier statements and those of the community groups which make up Just Space.

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Housing Associations: getting the best from them

Maximising really affordable housing in London 2021-2025 What could the Assembly & the Mayor of London do?

Letter from Just Space to Mayor and Assembly Members 3 February 2021 [This follows a letter sent a few days ago calling on the GLA to discuss ways of minimising the ill effects of the New London Plan. See previous post here.]

The new London Plan is now finalised and there is wide agreement —including by the Mayor— that it will not secure as much low-rent social housing as London needs. Totally inadequate investment in social rent housing will continue from 2021 to 2025, and grant funding from MHLG via the GLA is likely to remain biased towards intermediate tenures. But despite this, boroughs and the Mayor of London could still deliver much more, by positively influencing housing associations and adopting better planning policies and development management practices. Londoners’ experience during Covid adds urgency to the need for low-rent homes.

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London Plan: damage limitation

On 1 February Just Space wrote to the GLA calling for urgent steps to reduce the negative impacts of the latest changes to the Plan.

From Just Space to Jules Pipe, Deputy Mayor (planning)

Cc to Tom Copley, Deputy Mayor (housing), Members of the London Assembly, London Plan Team, London Councils

Dear Mr Pipe and colleagues

New London Plan: mitigation of adverse impacts

Now that the new London Plan is cleared for printing and London is, in effect, stuck with it for a few years, we are writing to urge you to launch an urgent study of how the negative impacts of the Plan can be mitigated through any of the GLA’s powers or the powers of boroughs or other bodies and to collaborate with community groups in doing so.

Many community and grassroots organisations, and others, struggled long and hard through the last five years of consultation & planning to make the London Plan a more equitable and powerful instrument to achieve the inspiring egalitarian ambitions held by the Mayor and captured in his City for All Londoners, in his preface to the London Plan and in the Good Growth Policies. Both the process and the outcome have been a tremendous disappointment at successive stages. The interventions from the SoS have made matters worse.

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London Plan going to the printer

News 29 January 2021: Secretary of State (Mr Jenrick) has agreed to the Mayor’s latest set of revisions so now the Publication London Plan is being sent to the printers. It was a developer’s dream from the outset & is now even worse, especially for low- and moderate-income Londoners, for most ethnic minorities and for productive enterprises. Scroll down to the end of this post for our assessment.

15 January 2021: Deadlock was reached between the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and the Secretary of State (SoS) Robert Jenrick but the SoS has pulled rank and dictated changes to the Plan which are now embodied in a new version from the Mayor.  This seems bound to give us an even worse London Plan than we were expecting a year ago and reads like something from a past era. What happened? A summary…

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Wrong reforms proposed for planning

1 Nov 2020: Democracy down; developer profits up; free gift of rights to landowners; few silver linings. Consultations have closed on the government’s proposals for changes to the planning system in England with very strong criticisms being made by community groups and others. Just Space groups have declined to answer the government’s leading questions and instead present refreshing insights on what’s wrong and what’s needed:

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New Planning System?

August 10 + later updates through October 2020: The UK government is preparing a number of major changes to the Town and Country Planning System in England (not Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland where devolved bodies make these decisions). We shall add material to this page in the coming weeks to help member groups in London to prepare responses, so this is a good post to bookmark: click on the heading above first. Please do contribute.
A number of consultations are finished and have been moved to the bottom of the page. This is the big one remaining:

Planning for the Future: white paper Consultation ends 29 October 2020 2345h.

This is the Just Space response to the consultation, submitted on 28th October.

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Estate Watch

Demolition or neglect: Are the Mayor of London’s ballots offering tenants a fair choice?

WEDNESDAY 17th JUNE

Over 35,000 homes across more than 100 London estates are earmarked for or undergoing demolition according to Estate Watch, a new resource for affected communities.

This despite the Mayor of London’s Estate Regeneration Guidance (2018), which was supposed to give council tenants and leaseholders a better deal.

Launching today, the Estate Watch website has been produced by community organisations Just Space and London Tenants Federation (LTF) to provide tenants and residents with independent facts and resources about the realities of demolition and possible alternatives.

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Boroughs & Covid-19: update

The London Forum of Amenity & Civic Societies —members of Just Space and one of the partners in our campaign to defend democracy & participation during the pandemic— has sent this update, reporting on their survey of London Boroughs by Paul Thornton:

“Following … two Zoom meetings and the many contributions from member societies, we have consolidated the current state of play and our recommendations on best practice in an interim report available on the London Forum website via this link.

In general, the picture is better than we might have imagined. The transfer of Planning online has gone reasonably smoothly, it has had benefits as well as drawbacks, and some of our greatest concerns (greater use of delegated powers, loss of speaking rights at Council committees etc) have either not materialised or been confined to a handful of boroughs. Continue reading

Ministry defensive on virtual meetings

8 May: The Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government (the ministry responsible for the planning system in England) has responded to the letter from Just Space and a number of bigger and national networks in which we had defended transparent and democratic features of the planning system and called for government action.

The ministry’s reply is mainly defensive, arguing that their priority has been to keep the planning system functioning and to give local authorities the flexibility to innovate in how they do that. [The implication seems to be that it’s up to the council how they proceed; complain to them if you are unhappy.] Continue reading