Khan recognises need for changes to London Plan in wake of housing secretary intervention

London mayor Sadiq Khan has accepted that amendments will need to be made to his new London Plan after the housing secretary issued directions last month preventing the document's publication until its "inconsistencies with national policy" were rectified.

London mayor Sadiq Khan (Getty)
London mayor Sadiq Khan (Getty)

In December, Khan rejected 15 recommendations made by planning inspectors examining the plan, including a recommendation that he drop the plan's blanket opposition to any development of green belt sites.

Khan produced a revised "intention to publish" version of the plan, which he submitted to central government in December alongside a letter explaining his decisions.

In March, the housing secretary Robery Jenrick issued a series of directions preventing the publication of the plan until "inconsistencies with national policy and missed opportunities to increase housing delivery" were rectified.

In an annex to the letter, Jenrick set out eight pages of detailed modifications required before the plan would be considered acceptable.

Among the key changes he made to Khan's flagship policies was amending his tough line on green belt development to bring it into line with national policy - allowing development via decision-making in "very special circumstances" and its release in local plans where "exceptional circumstances" exist.

Meanwhile, a line in policy E4 which states that there should be "no net loss of industrial floorspace capacity" was also struck out. Both changes were in line with recommendations by the panel of inspectors, published in October, that Khan then rejected.

Now, in a letter to the housing secretary published this week, Khan said that the Greater London Authority (GLA) and the government must "work together constructively to publish the London Plan as quickly as possible", particularly in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The letter said that Khan had asked his officials "to start conversations with your officials about the directions in line with your commitment to consider alternative policy changes in relation to these".

"I believe some amendments will be required to ensure the directions are workable in practice. My officials have now assessed their specific impacts and we consider amendments are needed to the modifications in order to remove policy ambiguities and achieve the necessary outcomes", the letter said.

The letter added that the GLA assessment "included identifying information that your officials did not have access to when drafting the directions and we are happy to share it to underpin the discussions".

It concluded: "Whilst I have instructed my officials to engage positively and constructively, I am hopeful that a form of wording we all find acceptable can be found as it would be hard for me to propose publishing my plan if I believed this would be detrimental to the needs of London."

A Planning analysis article examining the implications of Jenrick's intervention in the London Plan can be found here.

A Planning feature looking at Khan's record on housing delivery in the capital can be read here.

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