GLA sets out new sustainability standards under emerging London Plan

Developers in the capital will be required to submit detailed assessments of a building’s energy use over its entire life cycle as part of the planning application process, if newly issued draft guidance from the Greater London Authority (GLA) is adopted unchanged.

London's City Hall. Image: Flickr / Channone Arif
London's City Hall. Image: Flickr / Channone Arif

The GLA has published four “pre-consultation” draft guidance papers setting out the steps applicants will need to take to meet sustainability requirements under the new London Plan.

Strategic planning applications will need to be accompanied by "circular economy statements" detailing the reuse of materials resulting from demolition or remediation, how use of new materials will be minimised, waste management strategies and performance monitoring.

The Circular Economy Statement guidance defines the circular economy as one in which “materials are retained in use at their highest value for as long as possible and are then reused or recycled, leaving a minimum of residual waste”. 

According to the draft London Plan: “Referable applications should promote circular economy outcomes and aim to be net zero-waste.”

"Referable" applications will include schemes of: 150 homes or more. They will also cover projects over 100,000 square metres in the City of London, 20,000 square metres in central boroughs or 15,000 square metres in outer boroughs.

Buildings over 25 metres in height within the Thames Policy Area, 150 metres in height elsewhere in the City of London and 30 metres in height elsewhere in London will also be referable.

The guidance says applicants will be asked to explain how they interpret the circular economy and then summarise the commitments that are being made, how these go above and beyond standard practice and how schemes will be implemented and reported.

Detail will also be required on an end-of-life strategy, including how materials will be disassembled and reused. 

As well as detail on circular economy statements, the new guidance provides information on Whole Life-Cycle Carbon assessments that would be required under the new London Plan.

These assessments would be expected to include details of “carbon emissions resulting from the construction and the use of a building over its entire life, including its demolition and disposal”.

The guidance says assessments would need to be submitted at the pre-application, submission and post-construction stages. Detail required at the pe-application stage could include information on reuse of existing structures, material selection and building life expectancy.

Meanwhile, updated guidance on energy assessments introduces information on the "be seen" policy to be included within the new London Plan. This policy will be applicable to all major developments and requires applicants to monitor and report actual energy performance. 

According to the guidance, applicants would be required to submit building energy use data, carbon emissions and carbon offsetting estimates as part of planning applications. Section 106 agreements would include requirements for applicants to provide updates on actual performance once developments are completed and in use.

In March, housing secretary Robert Jenrick issued a direction preventing publication of the revised London Plan until "inconsistencies with national policy and missed opportunities to increase housing delivery" are rectified.

Last month, London mayor Sadiq Khan said he accepted that amendments will need to be made and said the GLA and the government must "work together constructively to publish the London Plan as quickly as possible".

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