This week, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, released the draft edition of the London Plan, a strategic document that shapes how London will evolve and develop over the coming years. Once finalised, the London Plan will set a policy framework for local plans right across London, as well as forming the basis for all future planning decisions. The plan represents the Mayor’s vision for London over the next 25 years, with particular attention being paid to an estimated population of increase of 1.8 million, taking the capital to an approximate value of 10.5 million.
With the draft plan published on Wednesday, the consultation period now begins until the 2nd of March 2018. Following this, the plan will be examined in public in Autumn 2018 before finally being published in full in Autumn 2019. There will be a number of public consultation events to help shape the plan throughout the winter and you can register to take part in those here.
The document itself is five-hundred pages, so we won’t be able to discuss everything that is mentioned, but we’ve picked out some highlights for you!
In terms of housing, the aim is to “make the most of the precious land in the capital” in order to help address the current shortage of housing in London. Accordingly, the target is to build 65,000 houses each year, half of which are should be considered “affordable”. All developments should meet the “highest standards” of fire safety and no building applications on free belt land will be approved unless certain conditions are met.
Transport is also featured in the London Plan, with a commitment to a higher density of housing along new transport routes like the Elizabeth Line. There is also a proposal to ban parking space from new homes and offices that are built near a transport hub, as well as restricting commuter and visitor parking for new office developments.
The London Plan also sees the Mayor announce his intention to provide a number of new public lavatories around the capital to ensure the comfort of all Londoners when travelling in the city. In Sadiq Khan’s own words:
“I have vowed to be a Mayor for all Londoners so I am determined to ensure that everyone has the ability to enjoy our great city to its fullest. Toilets are a vital public service and can help to shape the experience of the capital for those who live here and for those visiting. We need a range of toilets that reflect the incredible diversity of this city – giving people the confidence to move around London with dignity.”
The draft London Plan argues for more “changing places” toilets, which are designed to suit people with profound or multiple impairments, some people with learning disabilities, and those who require the assistance of a carer. Changing places toilets have additional features to standard disabled toilets, including a height adjustable changing bench, height adjustable sink, a toilet designed for assisted use and a hoist. There are also calls for the provision of gender-neutral toilets to ensure that trans and non-binary people can feel more comfortable when moving around the city. All of these new toilets are set to appear in shops, leisure facilities, and large public areas.
Age UK London’s CEO Paul Goulden welcomed these new provisions:
“It is reassuring to see that the mayor’s London Plan has committed to building more accessible public toilets across the capital. We want as many older Londoners as possible to be able to move confidently around their city without restriction and this pledge should go a long way to improving their experiences when out and about in London. The commitment to building more changing places toilets is especially encouraging, as many older people contend with limited mobility or require the support of a carer. We look forward to the provision of the new free, publicly accessible toilets across the city.”
Now it must be stated that the draft London Plan hasn’t been immune from criticism. London Assembly member Sian Berry has pointed out that the definition of “affordable” housing is still out of reach for many families, who will still be forced to pay over the odds. Meanwhile Conservative London Assembly member Andrew Boff argued that the housing policies will “leave outer London browner, overcrowded, and harder to get around”. In addition, Caroline Pidgeon has warned that we shouldn’t get carried away at the thought of the new proposals, noting “the draft London Plan is exactly that – a draft”.
With that in mind, it is important to take this opportunity to have your say on the draft London Plan. Take the time between now and March 2nd 2018 to read the document and offer your suggestions for improvements to your city.