Khan agrees to cut London Plan housing targets but stands firm on green belt

The mayor of London has agreed to the recommendation by examining inspectors that he dramatically reduces the housing targets in his draft new London Plan but has refused to relax his stance on green belt protection and airport expansion.

Response: London mayor Sadiq Khan. Image: Wikimedia Commons
Response: London mayor Sadiq Khan. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this year, a panel of inspectors examined the draft new London Plan and published a series of recommendations made in October.

Sadiq Khan yesterday responded to each of the recommendations and published a revised version of the new London Plan that takes into account those recommendations that he's accepted.

Of the 55 recommendations made by the inspectors, Khan said he had accepted 28 in full, accepted 12 in part or with an amendment, and rejected 15. 

The Labour mayor agreed to reduce the plan’s ten-year housing target by almost 20 per cent, from 649,350 homes to 522,850, and to more than halve a target for housing delivery on small sites.

However, Khan rejected the inspectors’ finding that the plan’s blanket opposition to the development of green belt sites through both plan-making and decision-taking "is not consistent with national policy". He also rejected their recommendation that he should commit to a review of the capital's green belt as part of the next London Plan review.

"Including a commitment to review green belt in this plan potentially pre-judges any future spatial strategy and risks undermining the objectives and delivery of this plan," he said. 

Instead, the London Plan has been amended to indicate that it "does not meet all of London’s identified development needs. Work will need to be undertaken to explore the potential options for meeting this need sustainably in London and beyond".

Khan also dismissed the inspectors’ calls for policies relating to airport expansion to be removed.

The mayor declined to remove a policy stating that he will "oppose the expansion of Heathrow Airport unless it can be shown that no additional noise or air quality harm would result, and that the benefits of future regulatory and technology improvements would be fairly shared with affected communities". 

The mayor said he considered that the London Plan is "not inconsistent with national policy and can operate alongside the Airports National Policy Statement".

Elsewhere, Khan accepted a recommendation that he lead a London-wide assessment of Gypsy and traveller accommodation needs.

However, he rejected the inspectors’ recommendation that the plan’s definition of Gypsies and travellers should be "consistent with national policy", stating that the national definition "excludes many Gypsies and travellers".

In a letter to Tory housing secretary Robert Jenrick on the issue of housing delivery, Khan said: "I want to make it clear that I am absolutely committed to delivering more of the homes that Londoners need, and this will include making much greater use of of small sites across the capital as well as bringing new players into the market.

"The revised housing target remains ambitious and represents a step-change from that set out in the current London Plan."

The secretary of state will now consider whether the plan is in accordance with national policy and has the power to issue directions in relation to its adoption.

Jenrick's predecessor James Brokenshire made a series of objections to the plan both before and during the document's examination, including a claim that it did not meet London's housing needs. 

The plan must also be considered by the London Assembly before it is adopted. 

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