Savills News

Savills responds to the Inspectors Report on the draft London plan

The Inspectors Report to the draft London Plan was made public yesterday after being issued to the Mayor on the 8 October. 

The Report finds that the draft Plan would provide an appropriate basis for the strategic planning of London, subject to a variety of recommendations, some of which drive to the heart of the Mayor’s strategy.

Perhaps most crucially is the Inspectorate’s conclusion that the small site housing targets - which sought to accommodate 38% of London’s housing growth - are simply not deliverable. This, they find, is due to flaws in the policy’s justification on factors ranging from the unsuitability of suburban areas for further intensification, questions over the appetite of owner-occupiers to release land for development and the simple lack of small and medium sized house builders to develop these sites. Consequently, the Inspectorate has suggested the small sites target is reduced by 51% to 119,250, which is more in line with actual delivery on small sites over the last 10 years.

The knock on effect is that the overall housing target has reduced from 66,000 dwellings to 52,285 dwellings per year and the obvious question is therefore where this housing need is going to be met. In agreement with the representations made by Savills, the Inspectorate have accepted “the inescapable conclusion” that a future, strategic review of the Green Belt is needed in order to accommodate London’s development needs sustainably. This strategic review should seek to co-ordinate London Boroughs and Authorities around the administrative boundary to review the Green Belt in a co-ordinated approach led by the Mayor.

The strategy of every previous London Plan has been to recycle brownfield land and, whilst this is of course the preference in many instances, the capacity of this land is finite. Amongst other things, continued intensification of brownfield land has impacts on development viability and, as concluded by the Inspectorate, “can only be taken so far without having an adverse impact on the environment, the social fabric of communities and their health and well-being”.

The Report also makes a range of comments on the detailed policies within the Plan, ranging from the strategic relocation and intensification of industrial land, affordable housing and workspace and newer market products such as Co-living and Build to Rent. Savills Planning will look to digest the details of the Report and issue more thorough, topical updates in the near future.

The next steps are for the Mayor to consider the recommendations before presenting an ‘Intend to Publish’ Plan to the Secretary of State and the London Assembly. The Inspectorate have highlighted their preference for this to happen as quickly as possible and it is not anticipated that any further public consultation will be carried out. Our conversations with the GLA indicate that they intend to present to the Secretary of State in December, and to the London Assembly either simultaneously or in the New Year. The clock is now ticking to get the London Plan adopted in March, ahead of the run-up to the Mayoral elections in May.

Savills Planning will continue to monitor the progress of the London Plan, but please do get in touch with us if you have any queries in the meantime.

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