Khan pleads with government to back London Plan's tough green belt stance

Sadiq Khan has issued a last ditch plea for the government not to "strip away" key environmental policies in his draft London Plan, including its controversial blanket opposition to any development of green belt sites and to the expansion of Heathrow Airport.

Robert Jenrick, secretary of state of housing, has until 17 February to sign off any final changes to the mayor of London’s draft blueprint for the capital. 

In December, the Mayor published the latest version of his draft plan, which included his response to a raft of changes proposed by a panel of inspectors following last year’s examination in public. 

Khan rejected 15 of the inspectors’ 55 recommended changes, which were outlined in a report published in October. 

Yesterday, he called on Jenrick to back three key environmental policies relating to green belt, Heathrow airport and fracking that the inspectors had opposed.

These include the inspectors’ move to reverse the plan’s policy of blanket opposition to the development or reallocation of green belt and metropolitan open land (MOL) sites, which the panel ruled is "not consistent with national policy".

They proposed adding references to development in the green belt being refused "except in very special circumstances" and to allow its boundaries to be altered in "exceptional circumstances". 

These recommendations would, according to the inspectors, bring the London plan’s green belt and MOL policies into line with national policy. 

Khan, who faces re-election to become London mayor later this year, also refused to delete a policy to oppose the expansion of Heathrow unless it can be demonstrated that it will result in no additional noise or harm to air quality. 

In addition, he urged Jenrick to support his complete rejection of any fracking for shale gas and oil in London, which the inspectors ruled is not consistent with national policy and should therefore be removed. 

Khan accepted 28 of the inspectors’ 55 recommendations in full and 12 in part. 

Those accepted in full included the recommendation that the plan’s ten-year housing target should be cut by almost 20 per cent, from 649,350 homes to 522,850. 

Khan said: "I’ve been clear from the outset these policies must stay in the London Plan for the benefit of all who live and work in the capital, along with the millions who visit each year from around the world.

"Ministers must not ride roughshod over these important protections. I hope the secretary of state will agree that the plan should be adopted in its current form, so that planning authorities across the city can get on and deliver much-needed new developments for Londoners."

Jenrick had been due to make his final decision on the London Plan last month but told Khan that he would be deferring it by four weeks.

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