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London Assembly concerned by planning reforms

The London Assembly has announced that it is concerned about the potential impacts of the Levelling Up Bill, when it comes to planning in the city.

Following an investigation into the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, conducted by the London Assembly, a report has been published that warns how some of the reforms included in the bill could prevent the London Plan, as well as other local plans, from meeting the needs of the local areas.

The committee has also noted 11 recommendations, which include:

  • “The Committee has serious concerns regarding the Government’s proposal for National Development Management Policies (NDMPs). The Committee does not support the measure in the Bill stating that any conflict arising between a local plan and a NDMP must be resolved in favour of the NDMP. The Committee believes that this measure should be either removed from the bill, or amended to exclude London and other areas which have a joint spatial development strategy.”
  • “The Government should confirm that the NDMPs will set minimum standards rather than absolute standards. The Government’s approach stating that local plans are not allowed to contain policies on the same areas as the NDMPs should also be changed, to ensure that local plans can meet local needs whilst avoiding unnecessary duplication.”
  • “The Committee welcomes the ambition of Neighbourhood Priority Statements to simplify and widen access to neighbourhood planning; including the protection of small business and localities to aid resilience and recovery. More details are needed from the Government on how it will address the most significant challenges facing neighbourhood planning. Therefore, the Government should set out how it will improve accessibility of funding and contribute to capacity building and technical support for neighbourhood planning groups.”
  • “The Government should provide further detail on how the street votes proposal would work. This should have a detailed projection of how the street votes approach would deliver more homes, including the need for affordable homes as set out in local plans, and what the role for local authorities would be. It should also include details on how the street votes approach would work on states and on streets with mixed building technologies.”
  • “The GLA should develop detailed analysis on how the Infrastructure Levy would be delivered in a way that responds to the specific conditions in London of high variation in land value and need for affordable housing. This analysis should be incorporated into the Government’s future consultation on the details of the Infrastructure Levy.”

The Committee did state, however, that it supports the idea of increasing the amount of public participation in matters of local planning, however it has said that it isn’t content with the lack of detail on how this would be done. The are also concerned about the lack of detail on how these would positively affect local communities.

Sakina Sheikh AM, Chair of the London Assembly and Regeneration Committee, said:

“We have a responsibility to ensure Londoners can influence their communities, and the planning process plays a vital role in helping us to  achieve this.

“We call for amendments to the Bill to protect the ability of London boroughs and the Mayor to set out plans that consult local people and meet local needs.

“We want London to be able to set ambitious planning targets to adapt to the challenges we are facing, and the Bill could undermine the Mayor’s ability to do just that.

“We also urge the government to provide more detail on their reforms around street votes and neighbourhood planning, so that local people and local authorities can maximise the potential of their neighbourhoods and boroughs.

“By increasing participation in planning across London, we will see a city which reflects the needs of Londoners, with housing that is suitable for everyone and a planning process that enables local people to shape their communities.”

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