MD2003 Review of the London Plan: temporary additional staff

Type of decision: 
Mayoral decision
Date signed: 
23 June 2016
Decision by: 
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

Executive summary

The Mayor has indicated that he would like to see a full review of the London Plan as soon as possible. This is a major task and since the last review, the team has been restructured and taken on additional responsibilities. To complete a review by the earliest date (summer/autumn 2019) additional resources are sought to help drive initial research and drafting: a Principal Planner for one year and 2 Senior Planners for two years. This will provide the necessary impetus to complete essential research/drafting within a year and then, for the following year, sustain the momentum through consultation and preparation of Examination in Public (EIP) Statements and presentation at the EIP.  After that the London Plan team will revert to its original establishment to take the Plan through to publication.



That the Mayor approves expenditure of up to £278,000 for a Principal Planner for 12 months beginning mid 2016/17 and two Senior Planners for 24 months beginning mid 2016/17 to support a review of the London Plan.  


Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

1.1    The London Plan is the Mayor’s over-arching statutory strategy. It provides the geographical framework which integrates all his other strategies; sets out his strategic planning policies with which all borough Local Plans must be in general conformity and is part of the development plan for all areas of London. It provides the statutory strategic context for his growth agenda, showing the scale, nature and distribution of growth, and the infrastructure investment necessary to support it.

1.2    The Mayor has indicated that he wishes to replace the current London Plan as quickly as possible and a work programme has been developed to enable publication in 2019. In view of the external factors which bear on plan preparation this is the earliest date practicable (see ‘Milestones’ below).

1.3    The two previous full London Plans each took three years to prepare, albeit with larger teams performing fewer functions than currently. The London Plan team presently has 16 staff (including the London Development Database (LDD) team) and is also responsible for Local Plan ‘general conformity’ and a range of corporate policy functions.  For the 2011 Plan it had 21 staff and a narrower range of responsibilities. It is understood that the 2004 Plan was produced by a team of around 24, again with a narrower range of functions. 

1.4    The Mayor is asked to approve expenditure of up to £278,000 for a Principal Planner for 12 months beginning mid 2016/17 and two Senior Planners for 24 months beginning mid 2016/17 to support a review of the London Plan. 

1.5    The cost will be up to £86,000 in 2016-17 which is proposed to be funded from Development, Enterprise and Environment’s (DE&E) 2016-17 Minor Programme budget. The funding for 2017-18 (£139,000) and 2018-19 (£53,000) is to be funded from Planning unit’s budget or Planning’s Smoothing reserves.

1.6    Separate approval will also be sought by the Head of Paid Service to create these posts starting from October 2016.


Objectives and expected outcomes

2.1     The work programme for the delivery of the London Plan review is designed to: 
•    respond to political objectives/timelines; 
•    take due account of legal, procedural, technical, co-ordination and other practical considerations to produce a ‘sound’ Plan; and
•    optimise use of existing and (requested) new resources.

2.2    In broad terms, the work programme for the review can be divided into two parts. The first entails the preparation of technical inputs; consultation on the new draft Plan and, in the case of the Grade 8s requested below, preparation and presentation at the Examination in Public (EIP). Other than the run-up to the EIP and its subsequent stages it is largely controlled by the GLA. The timeline for the second part of the programme is largely determined by external bodies (Planning Inspectorate / Government) and depending on these could run to May 2019 at the earliest or, as seems more likely, mid-autumn 2019 (see milestones below).  

2.3    This bid for additional resources is designed to expedite the first stage of the process over which the GLA has greatest control, leaving the second stage to be managed by the Team’s existing establishment.      

Objective 1

Provide Grade 10 competencies to initiate, lead and coordinate inputs to the Review of the London Plan (ROLP) from a range of high level internal and external partners; lead technical analysis to support policy development across a range of specified topics; lead drafting and quality assurance of specified sections of the new draft Plan; contribute to publication of and consultation on the draft.


Grade 10 competencies are required in particular to initiate and manage the economic and/or climate change and environmental sections of the Plan.

Performance measure

Overall: technical and management leadership to initiate and prepare specified ROLP sections Q3 2016/17 – Q1 2017-18



Management of analysis of ‘Towards’ style consultation response and integration in ROLP completed Q3- Q4 2016/17


Completion of authoritative technical inputs/research publications for ROLP in Q3 2016/17 – Q3 2017/18


Management/completion of publication ready sections/policy of draft ROLP in  Q4 2016/17


Contribute to management of consultation of draft plan Q2-Q3 2017/18



Objective 2

Provide Grade 8 competencies to prepare specified topic based technical inputs to sections of the ROLP and related publications eg the ‘Towards’ style document; coordinate preparation of these with other parts of the GLA group, external consultants and other organisations; draft relevant sections of the draft Plan and related publications and/or contribute to wider planning duties eg Local Plan ‘general conformity’. Contribute to public consultation on the ‘Towards’ document and Draft Plan and preparation for EIP. 



Grade 8 topic responsibilities within the team may be realigned to optimise the skillsets available across the expanded team as a whole and to reflect new Mayoral priorities. At present there is particular need for expertise in housing, economic issues, transport and climate change/the environment.




Overall: lead contributions to specified issue based research & policy development and/or contributions to on-going team tasks eg LDF conformity during

Q3 2016/17 – Q3 2018/19


Contributions to/analysis of related consultation responses of  ‘Towards’ style document in Q3 2016/17


ROLP drafting specified policy topics in Q4 2016/17- Q1 2017/18


Contributions to ROLP consultation and analysis Q2 – Q3 2017/18


Contributions to EIP preparation Q4 2017/18 – Q1 2018/19 and presentation at EiP Q2 –Q3 2018/19 and hand over to core staff.



Equality comments

3.1     The revised London Plan will be prepared in the context of the public sector equality duty and directly and indirectly (through the Integrated Impact Assessment – IIA see below) will include identification and evaluation of the likely potential impacts, both positive and negative, of actions on people with protected characteristics (age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, gender, religion or belief, sexual orientation). The IIA will assess how these issued are addressed.


Other considerations

Key risks and issues

4.1    The proposed appointments are intended to address particular ‘pinch points’ in preparation of the London Plan, focusing on its earlier stages. The Principal post will be for one year to initiate and progress the work programme. The two Senior Planner posts will provide the necessary technical consultation and EIP inputs, after which the existing team members will see the London Plan through to final publication. 

4.2    The proposed appointments are intended to reduce the considerable risks around the early stages of Plan preparation and to get the draft to a point where the expertise of the existing team can see it through to completion according to the proposed tight timeline. This will also enable the team to continue to perform its on-going statutory functions in addressing Local Plan ‘general conformity’ and the Mayor’s duties to cooperate, inform and consult with relevant bodies beyond London.  

4.3     Assumptions: 
•    that the above statutory functions will remain the responsibility of the London Plan team during preparation of the Plan. 
•    that no significant new SPGs or other planning documents other than those associated with Plan preparation will be prepared.
•    that DEE strategy coordination will enable preparation of the London Plan to a different timeline to other strategies (because of its different statutory processes)
•    that the Mayor will accept that a new Plan will take 3 years to prepare.
4.4    Other events/risks



Significant changes to national planning policy

Possible delay to programme

Secretary of State ‘Direction’

Probable delay to programme (beyond the term of these appointments)

Legal challenge

Probable delay to programme (beyond the term of these appointments)

Assembly veto

Probable delay to programme (beyond the term of these appointments)

Links to Mayoral strategies and priorities

4.5    Links to other Mayoral strategies: the London Plan provides the statutory overarching spatial framework to coordinate all the Mayor’s other strategies and, more generally, all strategies including the London Plan have to be consistent with each other. On the face of it this could raise tensions because of the different timetables for preparation of the Plan and the other strategies and, to a lesser extent, for translating policy content from the other strategies into the Plan. In practice, responsive coordination of all the strategies/Plan will address this apparent tension.

Impact assessments and consultations

4.6    Impact assessments: an Integrated Impact Assessment is an essential requirement in London Plan preparation and scoping for that for the next review is already under consideration in the context of assessments required for review of all the Mayor’s strategies.

4.7    Consultation: similarly, there is a statutory requirement for consultation on the draft London Plan and the results of this are a major input to the subsequent Examination in Public. There is also a statutory duty to inform and consult authorities beyond London on proposals to revise the London Plan. In addition various forms of informal consultation are undertaken eg recently through the Outer London Commission, the Strategic Spatial Planning Officers group from the wider SE and collective stakeholders such as London First, Just Space and academia.  


Financial comments

5.1     Mayoral approval is being sought for expenditure of up to £278,000 for a Principal Planner for 12 months beginning mid 2016/17 and two Senior Planners for 24 months beginning mid 2016/17 to support a review of the London Plan. The detail of the costs is provided below.

Financial year


Amount £



(6 months October 2016 – March 2017)

Principal Planner



Senior Planners x2



Principal Planner



Senior Planners x2


2018-19 (6 months April 2018 – September 2018)

Senior Planners x2







5.2    The cost of £86,000 in 2016-17 is proposed to be funded from the DE&E minor programme budget. The funding for 2017-18 (£139,000) and 2018-19 (£53,000) is to be funded from Planning unit’s budget or Planning’s Smoothing reserves.

5.3    Separate approval will also need to be sought by the Head of Paid Service (HOPS) to create these posts staring from October 2016.



Planned delivery approach and next steps



Procurement of contract [for externally delivered projects]

July 2016


Announcement [if applicable]



Delivery Start Date [for project proposals]

Oct 2016


Final evaluation start and finish (self)

Senior planners  Oct 2016 – 2018


Oct 2016- 2017


Delivery End Date [for project proposals]

Senior Planners  Oct 2016 – Oct 2018

Principal Planner

Oct  2016- Oct 2017


Project Closure: [for project proposals]

Summer 2019 (new Plan published)

Contextual work programme: key milestones 


Milestone description

Due date

Preliminary projects

Research brief finalisation; ‘Towards’ officer draft; new Mayor issue papers (existing/original team establishment)

Q4 2015/16

Scoping & research

‘Towards’ finalisation; Mayoral sign-off. On-going research

(new Seniors and Principal)

Q1 2016/17

Initial consultation & research

On-going research and technical work

(new Seniors and Principal)

Q3- Q4 2016/17

Policy development

Finalise research, policy development, iterative policy drafting

(new Seniors)

Q4 2016/17 - Q1 2017/18


Draft plan consultation

(new Seniors and Principal)

Q2-Q3 2017/18

EIP preparation

Initial responses to emerging issues/draft Matters

(new Seniors)

Q4 2017/18 – Q1 2018/19


Written Statements and Present at EiP

Q2- Q3 2018/19

PINS report

Revert to existing/original team establishment

Q4 2018/19


Revert to existing/ original team establishment

 Q1 2019/20


Revert to existing/original team establishment

Q2 2019/20


Revert to existing/original team establishment

Q2 2019/20

Appendices and supporting papers:


  • The current version of the London Plan was an ‘interim’ response to the major upturn in population growth revealed by the 2011 Census and already includes a commitment to an early review. Such a review will provide greater certainty to guide London’s long term development and growth which in turn will underpin achievement of the Mayor’s objectives.
  • By virtue of being up-to-date it will provide the most authoritative basis for his planning and other strategic duties as soon as possible.   
  • While the timescale for revising the Mayor’s other strategies is shorter than that for the London Plan, ensuring that it is prepared as quickly as possible will contribute to their robustness and address statutory requirements for all strategies to be consistent.
  • It will also provide a timely opportunity to address what are likely to be significant changes to aspects of government policy arising from the Productivity Plan, H&P Bill, devolution proposals, NPPF changes and CSR and to meet Mayoral commitments to engage more fully with authorities beyond London.


Timing of benefits

  • As London’s Spatial Development Strategy, the London Plan has a long term, 20-25 year horizon to guide the city’s development. However, it is also very much a day-to-day operational plan which bears on more immediate planning proposals and to be authoritative in this role must be as up-to-date as possible.  
  • To this end the requested resources will be used to speed up and underpin plan preparation to maximum effect over a focused period. The subsequent stages of preparation can then be carried out by the current establishment for the London Plan team.

Also see Attached Business Case