Update on the Draft London Plan: the Inspectors' Report

29 Oct 19

Inspectors have deemed that the London Plan cannot necessarily treat all Green Belt as being sacrosanct and in addition to a review, they have also made recommendations to bring the London Plan back in line with national policy to allow for Green Belt development in very special circumstances.

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The hotly-anticipated Inspector’s Report on the draft London Plan was published last week.

We have been carefully following the progress of the draft London Plan. Following on from our previous blogs flagging up key issues emerging at EiP and Consolidated Changes, we have digested the 125-page document to provide an overview of the key recommendations.

So first for the big headlines that everyone’s talking about:

Housing delivery and small sites

Whilst Inspectors have found the methodology for calculating the housing need at 66,000 homes to be sound, they fundamentally disagree on its deliverability, largely due to an over-estimation of the capacity of small sites. They are recommending a reduction of the housing target by c.20% to 52,285 homes per annum, as well as deletion of the presumption in favour of small sites policy.

This will likely be welcomed by many boroughs, particularly outer London, who felt that the pressure to deliver housing targets was unrealistic and would not be met.

Industrial land

Inspectors noted that the long-term need for industrial land will likely be higher than that assumed in the Plan and the approach to supply may be aspirational but not realistic. As such, Inspectors are recommending that policy is strengthened to ensure that existing industrial land is used more intensively, non-designated industrial land is protected, and that a sufficient supply of new industrial sites is provided, particularly in and around the Central Activities Zone (CAZ).

This has also raised the issue of considering whether the Green Belt needs to be reviewed through their local plan process in order to provide additional capacity and/or new locations.

Green Belt

Finally, in light of the Inspectors findings that capacity within London is insufficient to meet the identified annual need for housing and the potential shortfall of industrial land in the medium to longer term, they have also suggested that the London Plan commits to a full strategic London-wide review of the Green Belt in its next iteration. Inspectors have deemed that the London Plan cannot necessarily treat all Green Belt as being sacrosanct and in addition to a review, they have also made recommendations to bring the London Plan back in line with national policy to allow for Green Belt development in very special circumstances.

Of course, there are many issues covered in the Inspectors report and a large number of other policies that we have previously highlighted have not been recommended for change. Please do get in touch if you would like to discuss any of these areas in more detail.

We now await the revised version that the Mayor will submit to the Secretary of State. It remains to be seen how the GLA will respond and whether they will take any, or all, of the recommendations on board.

Alice Hawkins Assistant Planner,Planning