The new London Plan, the regional spatial development strategy for Greater London, came into force in July 2011. It sets out a fully integrated economic, environmental, transport and social framework for the development of the capital to 2031, and forms part of the development plan for Greater London. London boroughs’ local plans need to be in general conformity with the London Plan, and its policies guide decisions on planning applications by councils and the Mayor. The new London Plan replaces the London Plan (consolidated with alterations since 2004) which was published in February 2008.
The London Plan brings together the geographic and locational (but not site specific) aspects of the Mayor’s other strategies, including those dealing with:
- economic development
- a range of social issues such as children and young people, health inequalities and food
- a range of environmental issues such as climate change, biodiversity, air quality, noise and waste
Under the legislation setting up the Greater London Authority (GLA), the London Plan only deals with matters of strategic importance to Greater London. The legislation also requiresthat the London Plan should take account of three cross-cutting themes:
- economic development and wealth creation;
- social development; and
- improvement of the environment.
The Plan is the framework for the development and use of land in London, helping to
- establishing the strategic, London-wide policy context within which boroughs should set their detailed local planning policies;
- ensure joined-up policy delivery by the GLA Group of organisations (including Transport for London); and
- establishing the policy framework for the Mayor’s own decisions on the strategic planning applications referred to him.
Drivers and rationale
The 2011 Plan is shaped by a number of key strategic drivers, including population growth, an increasingly younger population (relative to the rest of Britain), persistent levels of poverty, a fluctuating economy, a changing climate, the Olympic legacy, quality of life, and a changing national planning system. The Plan has explicitly adopted an objective on ‘planning for growth’, whilst at the same time, meeting a range of commitments, including ‘protecting and enhancing London's natural environment and habitats, while also extending and making the most of the capital's open and green spaces for all the benefits they bring to the capital and its people.’
In this area, the Plan aims to help bring about, amongst other objectives:
- A city that delights the senses and takes care over its buildings and streets, having the best of modern architecture while also making the most of London’s built heritage, and which makes the most of and extends its wealth of open and green spaces, natural environments and waterways, realising their potential for improving Londoners’ health, welfare and development.
- A city that becomes a world leader in improving the environment locally and globally, taking the lead in tackling climate change, reducing pollution, developing a low carbon economy, consuming fewer resources and using them more effectively.
We don’t underestimate the challenge of what to many people believe are diametrically opposed objectives – planned growth, under current economic policy, and the protection and enhancement of natural resources. Pressures on housing, in particular, are to impose significant pressure on greenspaces in London that are not afforded significant levels of protection, and there are already calls by some for the relaxation of the Green Belt to enable ‘growth’ to be accommodated.
See London Plan policies for more detail.