Influencing plans in Opportunity Areas

Just published: The London Tenants Federation and Just Space held a conference of people trying to exert some community influence on what happens in London’s Opportunity Areas —the 33 large parts of London where major developments are under way or proposed. It drew on the experiences of campaigners at King’s Cross over 25 years and the results are now published by LTF as an important report: http://bit.ly/1n84K3U  The conference was part of a two-year project supported by the Trust for London to foster community engagement in 6 rapidly-changing areas.

The conference also saw the launch of a web-based map linking community activity in London which is part of the same project.

Strong criticism in community responses to plan

Community groups across London are releasing the comments they submitted on 10 April to City Hall on the Mayor’s draft Further Alterations to the London Plan FALP. #FALP14

A common thread in the responses is that the plan will be a waste of paper because it doesn’t begin to meet the housing implications of growth while it welcomes the growth itself. A linked problem is the way the plan fans the flames of land and property speculation which in turn impoverishes the majority of Londoners while enriching a minority and sprinkling skyscrapers along the river and in arbitrary spots elsewhere.

The Mayor has been shifting the emphasis of his housing policy away from those in the greatest need – and indeed from most average Londoners – for years. In his last round of alterations to the London Plan he followed government instructions to scrap ‘social-rented’ housing and use the new concept that rents up to 80% of local market levels shall be deemed – and named – “affordable”. He even took power to forbid Boroughs from setting lower rent levels within their areas.  The London Assembly was so incensed that—quite exceptionally—it voted to reject that Plan. Unfortunately, however, a 2/3 majority would have been needed for the Plan to fall. The changes proposed in this 2014 set of Alterations further shift the emphasis of policy away from London’s real needs.

Other comments on the plan include calls for much more decisive action on air quality and climate change, stronger defence of jobs in industrial zones and suburban centres and much more effective democracy in which local councils meet their people’s needs rather than—as so often—just siding with developers and displacing low- and middle-income communities.

Submissions made to City Hall are available here, as they come in.