Policy Summary - Draft mayoral proposals seek to safeguard distinctive functions in central London

Policy: Draft Central Activities Zone Supplementary Planning Guidance.

Offices: capital aims to protect stock
Offices: capital aims to protect stock

Issued by: Mayor of London

Issue date: 15 September 2015

Closing date: 8 December 2015

Background: This draft supplementary planning guidance (SPG) advises on how to implement the 2015 London Plan in the central activities zone (CAZ), comprising central London and the northern part of the Isle of Dogs. It includes all or part of ten boroughs. The SPG will guide local plans and represents a material planning consideration when determining applications.

Key points: The SPG prioritises "strategic functions" in the CAZ, restricting housing to preserve vital business, infrastructure, cultural and leisure uses. In particular, as the mayor says in his introduction, it seeks to safeguard business locations "from national proposals to liberalise office-to-residential permitted development rights".

Key areas of the CAZ were exempted from this liberalisation on its introduction in May 2013. The SPG explains that the mayor will press to retain such exemptions, but failing this he will instead support councils in protecting office space using article 4 directions.

The document outlines where "offices and other CAZ strategic functions should be given greater weight relative to new residential" schemes, pushing housing projects towards a handful of opportunity areas and parts of the ten boroughs that lie outside the CAZ. It advises how land-use swaps and credits can provide new homes linked to office developments and seeks to preserve the area's stock of small offices.

The SPG notes that "supporting more mixed and balanced communities in central areas of London may be affected by current government proposals", such as giving housing association tenants the Right to Buy. It adds that boroughs may "need to consider the impact of the benefit cap on the affordability and viability of larger units in particular locations".

As well as offices, the SPG urges boroughs to protect artistic and creative workspaces and designate clusters of such businesses as cultural quarters. It also highlights concerns about the loss of live music venues, urging planning authorities to "ensure that adjacent development and land uses are brought forward and designed in ways that ensure that established cultural venues remain viable", and suggesting mitigation measures such as additional soundproofing.

On the environment, the SPG asks boroughs to tackle the urban heat island effect and says where possible "development should incorporate green roofs, soft landscaping specifically designed to maximise surface water attenuation and absorption", with water retention measures built into hard surfaces.

Cycling is encouraged through street design and a mooted extension of the bike hire network, while boroughs are urged to promote car-free developments and constrain parking in retail, business and residential uses. Meanwhile, the River Thames' role as a transport artery is promoted, with boroughs asked to support improved quays.

The document can be found here. 

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