Tougher carbon emission and design requirements included in London Plan changes

Tougher requirements for developers to produce carbon emission assessments and to undergo design reviews are among the changes to the new version of the London Plan, which have just been published.

Modifications published: the launch of the draft New London Plan last November
Modifications published: the launch of the draft New London Plan last November

The modifications to the New London Plan were published last week by the Greater London Authority following consultation on the first draft of the document which was published last December.

These are the final changes made to the document before it is examined later this year.

In the policy on minimising greenhouse gas emissions, two new requirements have been added.

Firstly, major development proposals "should calculate and minimise carbon emissions from any other part of the development, including plant or equipment, that are not covered by building regulations".

Secondly, development proposals that are referable to the mayor "should calculate whole life-cycle carbon emissions through a nationally recognised whole life-cycle carbon assessment and demonstrate actions taken to reduce life-cycle carbon emissions". 

Applications that are referable to the mayor include schemes of 150 homes or more, of over 30 metres in height outside the City of London, or on green belt or Metropolitan Open Land.

The modifications go on to say: "To fully capture a development’s carbon impact, a whole life-cycle approach is needed to capture its unregulated emissions (i.e. those associated with cooking and small appliances), its embodied emissions (i.e. those associated with raw material extraction, manufacture and transport of building materials, and construction) and emissions associated with maintenance and eventual material disposal)."

It adds that major schemes that are not referable to the mayor should still "calculate unregulated emissions and are encouraged to undertake whole life-cycle assessments". 

Meanwhile, the modified plan's section on design scrutiny now says that development proposals' design "should be thoroughly scrutinised by borough planning, urban design, and conservation officers".

It goes on to include further detail on the recommended design review process, including referring applicants to the mayor's London Quality Review Charter.

Jonathan Bainbridge, a planning associate at consultancy Bidwells, said the design modifications meant the process was now "quite prescriptive" and potentially increased risk for applicants.   

A further addition to the plan is an acknowledgment of the government's new method of calculating housing need, which was included in the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) published in July.

However, the New London Plan does not actually use the new method in its housing need calculations.

The modifications come after housing secretary James Brokenshire last month said the New London Plan could be examined under the 2012 NPPF, but warned that the document had to be reviewed immediately once it was adopted.

The GLA has also revealed that the panel of inspectors appointed by the secretary of state to conduct the examination in public (EIP) of the draft London Plan comprises: Roisin Barrett, William Fieldhouse and David Smith. 

According to a note published by the inspectors, the EIP hearing sessions will now take place between mid January and May 2019 with the panel report published in the summer of 2019.

The inspectors have also set out a series of questions for the mayor to answer, including outlining the implications of the new NPPF's publication for the New London Plan.


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