London Councils welcomes the government’s commitment to new housing delivery and to supporting economic growth in local communities. We are supportive of some elements of the proposals contained in the Technical consultation on planning, in particular the new powers proposed for councils to better control the proliferation of betting shops and payday loan shops. We also welcome the proposed changes to consultation thresholds for outside bodies. We consider these proposals will help boroughs to support and accelerate growth through the planning process while protecting the interests of local communities.
Overall, however, we believe that the government’s proposals are too narrowly focused on removing powers from local communities and their elected representatives. There are means of accelerating development which do not rely on undermining the planning system and, in any event, we are not persuaded that the proposals will provide a significant increment to the homes Londoners need.
In particular, we have the following concerns:
- new permitted development rights for residential conversions risk introducing housing in inappropriate locations, undermining neighbouring employment uses
- the ‘prior approval’ process includes no mechanism to require affordable housing contributions or to meet minimum space standards
- viable and successful office spaces will be lost and businesses evicted with no guarantee that housing will be delivered
- the proposed A1 class is too broad and does not allow boroughs to properly support retail uses in high streets and town centres
- we are very concerned at the proposal to remove the existing exemptions for strategically important office locations which risk undermining the London economy
- boroughs should retain the power to set parking standards at a local level in the interests of economic growth and local communities
- Article 4 directions should apply to all premises in a designated area including those which have previously been granted prior approval
- the deemed discharge proposals risk undermining the quality of new developments and discourage developers from consulting local communities on the detail of schemes.
Instead of taking powers away from communities, London Councils believes that the best way the government can support new homes and economic growth is through a robust, well-resourced and transparent planning system, enabling boroughs, developers and local people to work together to deliver the new homes and infrastructure London needs.