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London Mayor’s plan debated amid fears it challenges local government and community inclusivity

Kingston Council debated Sadiq Khan’s draft London Plan amid concerns it is “it is a direct challenge to local government in London” and “seems at odds with a desire for more inclusivity by communities in planning”.

The Growth Committee discussion at the Guildhall on February 6, was intended to help form a response to the Mayor of London’s plan which is out for consultation and will be adopted in autumn 2019.

It will affect how much, where, and what type of development is allowed in the borough, and the standards and requirements that are applied to that development.

Particular concerns for Kingston arise from the new housing target which is more than double the existing one (1,364 new homes per year between 2019 and 2029, compared to a current target of 643). It is feared this could impact on the council’s powers to refuse planning applications and due to a preference for intensifying growth around stations and town centres “would significantly change the character and housing mix of the borough over the next 10 years”.

Papers prepared for the meeting state: “The new plan is significantly more prescriptive, including setting standards which are intended to be applied directly in determining planning applications, rather than being this expressed through local plans as is currently the case. This would create consistency across the 33 London boroughs.”

They add: “However, it is a direct challenge to local government in London with the Mayor taking over a detailed planning policy role that should be carried out by local authorities through their local plans. Kingston has been intending to prepare a new Local Plan commencing later in 2018. This ‘top down’ approach is not locally responsive and seems at odds with a desire for more inclusivity by communities in planning.”

The new plan designates a ‘nascent’ Opportunity Area for Kingston to bring forward 9,000 homes and 5,000 sites over the next 15 or more years. This is linked to Crossrail 2, a currently uncommitted transport scheme.

And it favours housing development of less than 25 homes on vacant or underused sites, or close to train stations or town centres, through extensions, conversions, redevelopment and infill development. Kingston officers estimate this would mean an approximate shift from an existing ratio of 60% houses: 40% flats to 49% houses:51% flats over a period of 10 years. They also estimate that, despite the overall significant growth in housing units over the 10 years, there would be a net loss in houses of about 2%.

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The Committee noted that the Chief Executive, in consultation with the Leader of the Council, the Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, the Opposition Spokesperson for Regeneration and the Leader of the Labour Group, would respond to the Mayor of London’s consultation on the draft new London Plan.


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