Legal professionals warn over impact of mayoral power shift

London's planning system may become more politicised following changes to the mayor's planning powers, leading private sector professionals have warned.

Speaking at a briefing last week, John Litton of Landmark Chambers said developers may seek to involve the mayor in projects when they feel that he would give a more favourable decision than London boroughs.

This could be done by increasing housing numbers to fall within the threshold of potential strategic importance to London, he said. Applications for 150 or more can be called in by the mayor under revised rules due to come into force in April.

But White Young Green director Steve Wilson said that this approach may open further planning gain talks that a local borough would not have requested.

The speed of decisions on applications called in by the mayor may also vary, according to Nathalie Lieven QC of Landmark. "You could tick all the right boxes but on the other hand it could take 18 months longer only to be called in by the secretary of state anyway."

Consultation on the draft Mayor of London Order ends on 14 February.

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