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London Forum Updates

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Potential funding problems for some London boroughs


Posted on: 31 August 2018 at 15:49:50
The London Communications Agency has reported that the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has predicted that the government could make inner London borough councils bear greater costs for the delivery of statutory services, as the Ministry for Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) considers consultation responses to its Fair Funding Review.
The Review is designed to determine how resources should be allocated to local authorities from April 2020. The IFS contends that inner London boroughs, which often set low tax rates (such as Wandsworth and Westminster), will be assessed by the Government as having lower spending needs and thus less wanting of central government funding.
The IFS interpretation of the Review’s direction is an interesting one, but should only be treated as an interpretation given the number of other factors the Review considers that could determine final funding allocations, such as employment density and so on. That said, the fact the IFS  has led with these predictions poses questions for those London boroughs that have historically chosen to keep council taxes low, many of whom often have high assessed spending needs.


'Planning' publishes a set of comments on the new NPPF


Posted on: 30 August 2018 at 15:06:23
There is a set of articles published here by PlanningResource which explain and review the implications of various parts of the new National Planning Policy Framework. They include comments by RTPI, RIBA, TCPA and others.


Forum response to 'Who pays for transport services?'


Posted on: 29 August 2018 at 21:58:23
London Forum's comments on this subject can be seen here.
 
We have expressed concern also to Transport for London about the reductions proposed for bus services which London Forum thinks are contrary to policies for more people to travel by public transport instead of by car.


Review of SuDS application and effectiveness


Posted on: 29 August 2018 at 17:31:25
Following a review of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS), the Government has concluded that local planning authorities need to be satisfied that clear maintenance arrangements are in place for the lifetime of a development.
Sharing good practice and innovation can also influence the uptake of SuDS in new developments.
There is potential for industry bodies to address skills and knowledge gaps.
National Guidance will be issued later this year.
See the report on the SuDS review here.


Permitted conversion of office blocks must be stopped


Posted on: 27 August 2018 at 13:38:58
An article in the Guardian makes clear that substandard homes are being created in converted office blocks. The Government made such changes 'permitted development' so local authorities cannot prevent them unless they have applied planning controls by a process of Article 4 Direction.
 
London Forum urges community groups to ask their Council the following questions:-
Have you prepared your Article 4 Direction to prevent the loss of town centre workspace in time for the 31 May 2019 deadline for taking action?
How much town centre office floorspace have you lost in the last 5 years?
Where will you find the replacement office floorspace as part of the objectively-assessed need in your Local Plan if almost all sites are ear-marked for housing?
 
Most London Boroughs have an economy of small firms and the growing shortage of workspace for them is driving out small enterprises. The Government suggests the replacement of offices with housing is good for the high street. Where is the evidence? At one person/13sq metres it is still not as high a density as people working in town centre workspace.
 
It is time to draw the line – market cherry-picking of town centre offices is damaging to the local economy.


Rowan Moore's article on the harm of new towers


Posted on: 15 August 2018 at 11:02:23
The article published in The Guardian is titled "Will skyscapers sink to new depths in British cities? - Councils are under pressure to build higher but campaigners say new towers will ruin historic skylines".


Minister criticises draft replacement London Plan


Posted on: 15 August 2018 at 10:23:56
The Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government has sent a letter to Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, which criticises the draft London Plan which will be examined by Inspectors early next year.
The Minister warns that he may intervene before the Plan is published if there are "any inconsistencies with current national policy" even though he states that "the draft London Plan will be examined against the previous [2012] National Planning Policy Framework."
Brokenshire does not believe that the Mayor's assessment of housing requirements "reflects the full extent of housing need in London to tackle affordability problems." As a result, the Minister has demanded that the published replacement London Plan at the end of 2019 is then reviewed immediately.
The Government is not offering any policies or funding beyond that in the Spring 2018 budget that will help to achieve 47% of all new homes in the capital to be of the low-cost rent type that the draft London Plan is seeking.
However, boroughs will be allowed to borrow more to build additional council houses.
The draft London Plan's policy for limiting car parking spaces in new developments is also criticised which seems to be consistent with past Government interference in London's planning and its imposition of harmful permitted development and other policies not suitable for London.
It is hoped that the Minister will devise some policies in future to limit the number of unaffordable market homes built as investment properties in London for overseas buyers, with many left empty. Also, to find ways of getting approved developments built more promptly.
 


Social housing Green Paper


Posted on: 14 August 2018 at 20:36:31
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government states that the green paper aims to rebalance the relationship between landlords and residents, tackle stigma and ensure social housing can act as a stable base and support social mobility.
However, it proposes that the Government wants to ensure social tenants can "get on in life" and so "buy their own home". The proposals would encourage more Right-to-Buy and reduce social housing stock to rent.
Shelter’s chief executive, Polly Neate, said the green paper was “full of warm words but doesn’t commit a single extra penny towards building the social homes needed by the 1.2 million people on the waiting list.”
More funding will be necessary to the GLA to achieve the required quantities of new low-cost rent homes in London because developers seem not able to deliver them in the numbers needed. Boroughs using the proceeds from Right-to-Buy would not be sufficient to supply enough of that type of home.
The Minister and one's own MP should be given comments on this Green Paper that can be downloaded from here.


Changes to the draft London Plan and its examination


Posted on: 14 August 2018 at 19:38:55
An updated version of the draft London Plan is available here with new maps here.
See also a table of the minor suggested changes to it with reasons given and the details of the public examination (EiP) of it from next January and the documents that are associated with it.
There will be opportunities to respond to the key matters that the EiP Inspectors will publish in September and in November.


House of Commons Library briefing on Heathrow


Posted on: 20 June 2018 at 23:23:39
A useful House of Commons Library briefing paper on Heathrow airport and its plans to expand capacity with a third runway can be seen here. There is a link to a full report.

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