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What's in a plan

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The Greater London Authority launches the consultation draft of its Spatial Development Strategy (all right, London Plan) on Tuesday, in the north tower of Tower Bridge.

Everyone will get a good look at Lord Foster's emerging GLA headquarters on the South Bank opposite. What will be in the strategy? A closely guarded secret, not least because of heated discussion between different factions advising mayor Ken Livingstone and the GLA itself, where deputy mayor Nicky Gavron has formal responsibility for planning. As a former chair of the London Planning Advisory Committee, she is one of the few elected councillors in London who know what they are talking about.

But, of course, the strategy is not just about land use planning, but about a complete approach to the London economy, transport, cultural development, waste management etc, etc. This seems to have escaped some of the mayor's advisers, who take the view that London is all about the Square Mile, and everything else can go hang. 'The City can afford to pay for three times as many policemen, ' is one of the more colourful remarks attributed to an adviser asked what should be the strategy towards poorer parts of the capital. The problem with the document is that it will be dealing with the mundane (Livingstone's campaign to revive 'real' nappies to avoid all that waste) and the profound (long-term thinking across all fronts). By the time the consultation document has been amended and then put through its subsequent statutory processes, it will be time to elect a new mayor. No wonder Livingstone lamented his 'wasted year' in the Sunday Times last weekend. By the way, Lord Foster's designs for bus stops with WCs attached is getting big attention from our Ken. Good news for J C Decaux.

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