In recent decades, London has excelled at creating jobs and opportunities. But at the same time, the City is still grappling with its housing crisis. To counter this, the new London plan was published in 2018 with ambitious strategies for housing reform and planning policy. The Plan was enthusiastically debated by developers, hundreds of whom responded to the original consultation to shape the Housing policy in the new Plan. We at GK made several submissions on behalf of clients to the Draft London Plan consultation.
Now, after much public consultation, this January sees the launch of the Draft London Plan’s Examination In Public (EIP). A legal requirement, the EIP will see independent panel members scrutinise every aspect of the Mayor’s draft plan and make recommendations about its feasibility based on external stakeholders’ evidence. As part of this, the EIP invited interested stakeholders to submit their thoughts about the current state of the Draft Plan, with a view to giving evidence to the panel’s programme of workshops in 2019. These comments on the Draft Plan are crucial, as the Mayor cannot formally adopt the Plan without considering the recommendations of the expert panel – whose report will be directly influenced by external stakeholders’ views of policies within the plan.
Within the EIP schedule for the start of this year, City Hall has set aside five whole sessions dedicated to housing. Ranging from housing requirements, targets, current supply, strategy and affordability, these sessions will provide an opportunity for respondents to highlight to the independent panel their thoughts about the draft London Plan’s housing strategy and what it means for their businesses – or whether the plans are actually deliverable.
Having analysed the written responses to the EIP panel, GK have discovered that only one housing developer, Pocket Living, followed up on their submissions to the draft London Plan and submitted further comments to the EIP panel. This means that for the entire month of February when the Housing section is being debated, only one developer will be able to give evidence about a document which will shape housing policy in the capital for the next 25 years.
However, there are still ways for developers to influence planning policy across the capital. Since 2016, GK has been heavily involved in liaising with London boroughs on their local plans, highly targeted documents with recommendations on key sites within those boroughs. As of now, many boroughs are still in the process of finalising their plans and will have their eye on the recommendations of the full London Plan before amending or adding to theirs. For developers who have missed out on the chance to feed into the London Plan, local plans could provide a route through to decisions makers affecting their businesses.