London mayor mulls 'industrial land swap' with South East councils

The Greater London Authority (GLA) is considering an 'industrial land swap' between London and its south-eastern neighbours to free up industrial land for new homes, according to the capital's deputy mayor for planning.

Jules Pipe speaking at the conference yesterday
Jules Pipe speaking at the conference yesterday

Speaking at yesterday's Planning for Housing conference, Jules Pipe said the new draft London Plan will be published for formal consultation in the autumn of 2017 and a final London Plan published in late 2019.

The new plan, said Pipe, would aim for "a more rigorous approach to the release of surplus industrial land that has good public transport accessibility".

The Greater London Authority (GLA) is exploring an "industrial land swap" between London and its south-eastern neighbours, said Pipe, to free up industrial land in the city centre.

He said: "There are some parts of the capital mainly in the East where there is still genuinely surplus capacity."

A document called Towards the London Plan, which will be published next month, will explore a number of these issues to help shape the first draft of the new London Plan, Pipe said. 

The GLA would also consider targeting "highly-connected locations and some suburban areas" for intensified housing development, said the former Hackney mayor

"Significant capacity" could also be provided, both in London "and possibly beyond", along "long stretches of Crossrail Two" and around railway stations, which would be known as "Station Intensification Zones".

Planners were also looking at the "selective renewal of some town centres" through "housing-led, mixed-use hi-density redevelopment", with ground floor commercial spaces and homes above.

The development of the capital’s existing 38 brownfield land Opportunity Areas would be accelerated and new ones identified, Pipe added.

He reiterated that the mayor would protect the green belt and the exceptional circumstances test for releasing green belt land "should be truly exceptional in London’s case".

Pipe added: "Key issues for the new London Plan will be reconciling growth with the local character of places and boroughs."

Meanwhile, new supplementary planning guidance (SPG) on viability and affordable housing will be published for consultation "later this autumn", said Pipe.

He said the document "aims to make the viability process more consistent, transparent, and credible".

It would provide "detailed guidance on the preferred approach and methodology to viability assessments", he said, as well as "guidance on the mayor’s approach to calling in schemes in relation to affordable housing".

The document would also explore an affordable housing threshold and would respond to concerns about viability assessments from developers, boroughs and local communities. He said feedback to the document so far "has generally been positive".

Pipe reiterated the mayor’s ambitious aim of ensuring that 50 per cent of all new homes would be "genuinely affordable".

Khan would "have to use his full suite of powers" to achieve this, he said, including planning, funding and landownership. "The mayor is aware that delivering this is a marathon not a sprint", he said. 

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