ADD2149 Strategic Environmental Assessment of the Safeguarded Wharves

Type of decision: 
Assistant Director's decision
Code: 
ADD2149
Date signed: 
22 August 2017
Decision by: 
Juliemma McLoughlin, Chief Planner, Development, Enterprise and Environment

Executive summary

There are currently 49 wharves safeguarded along the Thames in London. They are safeguarded by a direction issued by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. This means they cannot be released from their use as a wharf unless the Mayor of London is consulted and approves the planning permission to release the wharf.  

Advice from a QC has confirmed that any attempt to change the network needs to be underpinned by a Strategic Environmental Assessment.  This ADD is requesting expenditure of up to £40,000 to procure external consultants to undertake this exercise.  The Mayor will then consider any representations received before submitting his final list of recommendations to the Secretary of State, who will then make the decision on those wharves to be safeguarded.
 

Decision

That the Assistant Director of Planning approves expenditure of up to £40,000 to procure by competitive tender external consultants to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment of the network of safeguarded wharves.


 

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

1.1     There are currently 49 wharves safeguarded along the Thames in London. They are safeguarded by a direction issued by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. This means they cannot be released from their use as a wharf unless the Mayor of London is consulted and approves the planning permission to release the wharf.  

1.2        The wharf network was last successfully reviewed in 2005. Officers have undertaken a review to update the network.  The Mayor attempted to update the network in 2013 but the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government refused to endorse the changes to the network as it was not supported by a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). Advice from a QC has confirmed that any attempt to update the network needs to be underpinned by a SEA.  The SEA needs to be undertaken by external consultants to give the SEA a level of robustness that the Secretary of State will be seeking. Approval is sought to approach external consultancies to undertake the SEA. 

1.3    Once the review has a supporting SEA it will be subject to a 3 month public consultation. The Mayor will then consider any representations received before submitting his final list of recommendations to the Secretary of State, who will then make the decision on those wharves to be safeguarded. This will be a separate consultation from the review of the London Plan.  
 

Objectives and expected outcomes

2.1    It is envisaged that the consultants will produce a Strategic Environmental Assessment to support the Mayor’s review of the safeguarded wharves network. It is expected that the study will be robust as it will need to stand up to scrutiny by the Secretary of State. 

 

Equality comments

3.1    Ensuring the network of wharves is up to date should help the Mayor deliver on his ambitions to improve air quality by promoting the movement of freight by the river. Improving air quality will help everyone but especially those with breathing difficulties who are typically the elderly and the poor.

 

Other considerations

a) key risks and issues 

4.1    The contract will be managed in line with standard GLA risk management procedures. If the work is not commissioned it is likely that the safeguarded wharves review will not be accepted by the Secretary of State. If the network is not reviewed, residential developers are more likely to try and seek permission for the redevelopment of wharves, leading to their loss, frustrating Mayoral ambitions to make more use of the river for freight.      

b) links to Mayoral strategies and priorities

4.2    This study will help defend the Mayor’s approach on a specific land use, which will inform the implementation and review of the London Plan. It will support the Mayor’s Environmental Strategy, Mayor’s Transport Strategy as well as the London Plan. It will provide evidence to London boroughs on land to be retained in wharf use in the preparation of local plans and in partnership working with the GLA in developing Opportunity Area Planning Frameworks.

c) impact assessments and consultations.

4.3    The work the consultants will do will be guided by the brief (attached below) and  GLA officers from the Planning Team.
 

Financial comments

5.1    Approval is being sought for expenditure of up to £40,000 to appoint consultants to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment, to review the safeguarding of the wharves network.  The cost will be funded from the 2017-18 London Plan Programme budget.

5.2        As this work relates to consultancy contract, officers have to ensure that the requirements of the Authority’s Contract & Funding Code are adhered to and that the requirements relating to consultancy services within the Authority’s Financial Regulations and Expenses & Benefits Framework are adhered to. Any changes to this proposal, including budgetary implications, will be subject to further approval via the Authority’s decision-making process.
 

Planned delivery approach and next steps

 

Activity

Timeline

Procurement of contract

September ‘17

Delivery Start Date

September ‘17

Main milestones – Interim Report

November ‘17

Main milestones – Final Report

December ‘17

Final evaluation start and finish

January ‘18

Delivery End Date

January ‘18

Project Closure:

February ‘18