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Assembly raises concerns with Minor Alterations to the London Plan

10 February 2016

The London Assembly today raised concerns about a number of altered policies in the Minor Alterations to the London Plan.

The Assembly agreed a motion, which highlighted the loss of housing standards within the London Plan and stated concerns about the impact of a potential introduction of minimum car parking standards on air quality.

Nicky Gavron AM, who proposed the amendment to the procedural motion said:

“The Mayor has chosen to call these minor alterations, but these policy changes will have a major impact and damage the quality of Londoners’ lives. If someone came to you and said they wanted to make some minor tweaks to London, but the changes will mean fewer homes built, poorer quality and cramped housing, higher energy bills, worse air quality and more congested roads, then you would reply that those tweaks don’t sound very minor after all. The London Assembly thinks that is the case with the Minor Alterations to the London Plan, and that is why we passed a motion condemning the Mayor’s proposal.

We are particularly concerned by the prospect of minimum car parking standards. This is a radical departure from current policy and are utterly unnecessary considering the London Plan already allows developers to provide two or more spaces per unit depending on local circumstances.”

Darren Johnson AM, who jointly seconded the amended procedural motion said:

“London faces a future blighted by congestion and pollution if Mayor Boris Johnson weakens these vital limits to car parking in our city. He should focus on expanding the bus network and improving cycle safety, while keeping a lid on car usage.”

Stephen Knight AM, who jointly seconded the amended procedural motion said:

“The Mayor’s changes to the London Plan are far from a minor tweak and will change policy for the worse.

By providing for more cars in new developments, we will see up to 260 fewer new homes built each year and more congestion and air pollution on our streets.”

The full text of the Motion is:

The Assembly notes the answers to the questions asked.

However, this Assembly has concerns about a number of the altered policies in the Minor Alterations to the London Plan, including those addressed below.

Housing Standards

This Assembly condemns the decision by Government to force London to abandon its housing standards through the planning system. These standards work for London, and London should have been able to keep them.

The GLA has a well-established and effective series of housing standards which are lauded for improving the condition of housing in the capital. Many of these are designed to be joined-up with other policies, such as on transport, health, and tackling and adapting to climate change, which all contribute to quality of life. The loss of these standards will undermine the ability of City Hall to secure high-quality housing that is spacious, saves Londoners money on their energy bills, and is better for the environment.

Car Parking

This Assembly is concerned by the potential introduction of minimum car parking standards, which would represent a radical departure from current policy and could result in developers being forced to provide more car parking than a scheme requires, reducing the construction of much-needed housing in the capital3.

Air Quality

This Assembly highlights the finding by the independent planning inspector that the implementation of the car parking alterations will result in a predicted decrease in air quality4. Given London is already in breach of the Ambient Air Quality Directive5, any further deterioration in air quality is unacceptable.

The inspector puts the onus on the Mayor to clearly demonstrate “through appropriate modelling and monitoring mechanisms” that mitigation measures outweigh the impact on air quality6. This Assembly calls on the Mayor to refrain from implementing the proposed alterations until this has been demonstrated.

These policies and the planning decisions they inform will have a major impact on London in coming years. Until there is a new London Plan, the decisions that are taken will lock London into a trajectory that is at odds with key goals of developing a sustainable city.

Notes to editors

  1. Watch the full webcast.
  2. The substantive procedural motion was agreed by 12 votes for and 9 against.
  3. Outer London Commission, Fourth Report – Residential Parking Standards, May 2015: paragraph 4.4.14.
  4. MALP Inspector Report, para 51.
  5. UK government failing legal duty on air pollution, Supreme Court rules, Guardian, 1 May 2013.
  6. MALP Inspector Report, para 52.
  7. Nicky Gavron AM who proposed the motion is available for interviews. Please see contact details below. 
  8. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

For media enquiries, please contact Lisa Lam on 020 7983 4067.  For out of hours media enquiries, call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the London Assembly duty press officerNon-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit on 020 7983 4100.