Secretary of State response to the Intend to Publish London Plan

13 March 2020

Robert Jenrick – our Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government – has been very busy this week. On his feet in parliament yesterday setting out the Government’s upcoming white paper on “Planning for the Future”, and today issuing his response on the London Plan.

The Planning for the Future document doesn’t actually hold much by way of new announcements and is really a round up of news from the Government announcements on housing and planning over the last few years. There is, however, more reference to beauty, again in response to the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission.

Also trailed in Jenrick’s speech yesterday was a commitment to speed up planning and improve the effectiveness of the Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) powers, something we hear year in, year out. It remains to be seen whether any great strides are made in this regard.

The response to the London Plan is more around the nuts and bolts of dealing with site appraisals and applications, carrying a more immediate effect on our day to day planning process. The headlines are as follows:

  • The Mayor has been heavily criticised for underdelivering on housing numbers
  • The criticism is that the plan is too complex
  • There are direct contradictions with National Policy
  • The London Plan needs an immediate review
  • The Mayor will need to publish a New Intention to Publish Plan incorporating the Secretary of State’s directions

The key directions are as follows:

  • More emphasis on family housing
  • Optimising site capacity
  • Sufficient Industrial Land – NOT No Net Loss
  • Green Belt and Metropolitan Open Land policies now more closely follow the NPPF, as in allowing development providing very special circumstances exist.

So, on top of the Budget and the response to coronavirus, the Government has been busy on planning and housing. Whilst there are undoubtedly political angles to the Government’s response on the London Plan, this is an important intervention that has wide reaching ramifications.

If you need any guidance on the implications of the London Plan changes on current and planned projects, please get in touch.