London mayor Boris Johnson has published the latest London Plan, setting out policies to guide development in the capital for the next 20 years
The plan replaces a previous version published by Ken Livingstone in 2008 and includes a range of policies linked to architecture, including the design of houses, restrictions on tall buildings and mitigating climate change.
Reference is made throughout the plan to the importance of high-quality design. A chapter called ‘London’s Living Places and Spaces’ contains a number
of policies on subjects including place shaping, designing out crime, public realm and tall buildings. The plan also states: ‘Architecture should make a positive contribution to a coherent public realm, streetscape and wider cityscape. It should incorporate the highest quality materials and design appropriate to its context.’ Guidance on planning decisions adds that buildings should enhance the public realm, complement local character, counter climate change and meet the principles of inclusive design.
Providing more housing is a recurring theme. ‘Delivering more homes for Londoners meeting a range of needs, of high design quality … will be a particular priority,’ it states, and promises ‘a suite of housing policies to help deliver more homes’. A policy dedicated to the quality and design of housing says development should ‘take account of the needs of children and older people, meet minimum space standards and address climate change adaptation’. But the policy adds: ‘proposals which compromise the delivery of elements of this policy may be permitted if they are demonstrably of exemplary design and contribute to achievement of other objectives of this plan.’
A revised draft London View Management Framework was published at the same time as the London Plan. The document limits the development of tall buildings in specified corridors across the city to maintain 27 views of London and its major landmarks. Examples include panoramas from parks including Greenwich and Primrose Hill, views along the Thames from several bridges and views of St Paul’s Cathedral. It includes a new view management corridor from Parliament Square to the Palace of Westminster, but restrictions on the view downstream from Blackfriars Bridge have been removed.
London’s response to climate change is given its own chapter, and the plan states early on that the capital should become ‘a world leader in improving
the environment locally and globally, taking the lead in tackling climate change, reducing pollution, developing a low-carbon economy, and consuming fewer resources and using them effectively’. The plan sets several targets for the reduction of carbon emissions from both residential and commercial development. For planning permission to be given, the plan states that development: ‘should demonstrate that sustainable design standards are integral to the proposal … and ensure that they are considered at the beginning of the design process.’
Supplementary planning guidance will be issued on the Olympic legacy, setting out the mayor’s plan for the area around the Olympic Park which will ‘embed exemplary design and environmental quality’. The mayor and boroughs will be expected to give maximum weight to this guidance when considering planning applications, and ‘ensure that development proposals in and around the Olympic Park embody the highest environmental standards and enhance open space provision and waterways in the area’. A strategic regeneration framework is also being prepared by the five host boroughs which will aim to maximise the social and economic benefits of the physical development taking place.
A number of policies stress the importance of maintaining London’s historic assets and conclude that planning should support ‘the retention of London’s heritage and distinctiveness’ and prevent its loss through development, adding: ‘Heritage assets such as conservation areas make a significant contribution to local character and should be protected’. The plan makes clear that designs should incorporate heritage assets wherever possible, stating that development ‘should identify, value, conserve, restore, re-use and incorporate heritage assets’ and that ‘physical assets should, where possible, be made available to the public on-site’.
Read the full London Plan