Sadiq Khan places culture at the heart of the London Plan
- New draft London Plan sets out support for new cultural hotspots, the protection of venues and promotion of London as a 24-hour city
- Mayor also unveils plans to establish Creative Enterprise Zones and protect artist studio spaces
Sadiq Khan today pledged to protect the capital’s ‘creative spirit’ as he unveiled the most pro-culture London Plan of any Mayor.
The draft London Plan – the Mayor’s overall planning strategy for the capital, which has been published this week – sets out unprecedented plans to protect and grow the city’s culture and creative industries through a range of bold measures.
With support for new Creative Enterprise Zones and cultural quarters, as well as moves to protect artist studio space and introduce the Agent of Change principle, the draft London Plan hails culture as one of the capital’s most dynamic sectors – one which is growing at a faster rate than any other area of the economy. Culture helps drives tourism, generates £42bn for London’s economy annually and employs one in six people. It also plays a wider social role, bringing communities together and giving the city its distinctive character.
Despite this contribution to London’s success as a world city, the creative industries are struggling to grow and thrive as a result of London’s competitive land market.
Over the past decade, London has lost 25 per cent of its pubs, 40 per cent of its music venues, 50 per cent of its nightclubs and 58 per cent of its LGBT+ venues. It is also predicted to lose 30 per cent of affordable creative workspace in the coming years. The Mayor has already committed to carrying out annual audits of pubs, grassroots music and LGBT+ venues alongside a range of measures that aim to stem the flow of closure of venues across the capital.
From the outset of his Mayoralty, Sadiq Khan pledged to make growing culture a core priority, and his new London Plan aims to tackle the threats facing the industry, creating an environment in which creatives can thrive and all Londoners have access to culture on their doorstep. This includes:
- New Creative Enterprise Zones – The Mayor will work with boroughs to establish Creative Enterprise Zones. Across London, from Hackney to Peckham, the role of creativity in revitalising areas has been proven, but a long-term approach will ensure that creative communities are able to put down roots. Creative Enterprise Zones will give creative industry clusters extra support to prosper by securing affordable workspace, supporting small businesses and boosting jobs and skills. As part of this key manifesto priority, the Mayor will invite boroughs to identify areas that could become Creative Enterprise Zones and will soon publish a prospectus inviting boroughs to bid for funding to develop their own zones.
- New Cultural Quarters – Local authorities will be asked to identify or enhance existing ‘Cultural Quarters’ helping to create attractive and vibrant areas for residents, workers and visitors. Cultural Quarters will build on the existing character of an area and encourage a mix of cafés, restaurants and bars alongside cultural venues. Boroughs will be asked to support pop-ups and cultural activities in vacant properties, such as the Printworks in Canada Water, the Silver Building in the Royal Docks and Peckham Levels in Peckham.
- Protecting artists’ workspace - Development proposals will be encouraged to protect creative and artist workspace, especially in areas where there is an identified shortage of affordable space. If creative workspace is lost then it will have to be reinstated in a nearby location. The Mayor has already committed to setting up a Creative Land Trust, which will acquire buildings and lease them to provide affordable creative workspace for artists and creative businesses.
- Introducing the Agent of Change principle - Developers building new residential properties will be responsible for ensuring they are adequately soundproofed and designed to reduce sound from nearby pubs, clubs and live music venues. Boroughs will have to refuse proposals from developers that do not clearly demonstrate how they will manage this noise impact. This will solve the problem of venues having to close as a result of adjacent new developments.
- Promoting London as a 24-hour city – The Mayor is asking every borough to develop a vision for its night-time economy, to support its growth and to ensure it works for everybody in a way that is safe and sustainable. The plan encourages diversification of night-time activities in town centres, extending opening hours of businesses like shops, cafés, libraries, galleries and museums. Protecting and supporting night-time cultural venues, including pubs, clubs, cinemas, music and arts venues is also a key priority of the Plan. Last year, Sadiq Khan appointed Amy Lamé as London’s first-ever Night Czar, to champion the capital’s night-time economy and to develop a vision for London as a 24-hour city.
- Protecting pubs - The plan will push local authorities to recognise the heritage, economic, social and cultural value of pubs and ensure they are protected for local communities. It will ask boroughs to back proposals for new public houses to stimulate town centre regeneration. The Mayor will urge boroughs to resist applications to redevelop areas directly connected to public houses – such as beer gardens, function rooms or landlord accommodation – so that they retain their appeal to local people and visitors and remain viable businesses.
- Promoting culture for all Londoners - The plan encourages boroughs to consider how its cultural assets serve all Londoners, including young people, BAME groups and the LGBT+ community, especially where the cultural offer is lacking for particular groups.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “London is the world leader for culture and creativity, and I’ve made it clear that protecting and growing this vibrant industry is one of my core priorities. It is growing at a faster rate than any other area of the economy, and I want to ensure that we create an environment where artists and creatives can flourish.
“Culture also plays a vital role in bringing people from all backgrounds together and I want every Londoner to have the opportunity to access culture on their doorstep. Without culture, London would lose its spirit and soul, and I’m proud that my draft London plan is the most pro-culture yet.’
Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries, Justine Simons, said: “London is a global creative powerhouse but despite being one of our great success stories, many parts of the industry are at serious risk. This London Plan puts culture right at its heart, ensuring it is hardwired into all aspects of civic planning. We need London to be a beacon of creativity, open to ideas and talent and Sadiq’s London Plan will ensure we have the spaces and places we need to shore up our success in the decades to come.”
Ben Evans, Chair of the Mayor’s Culture Leadership Board and Director of the London Design Festival, said: “The culture and creative sector is London’s biggest sector employing 900,000 talented people. It is a key part of London’s future. The Mayor’s new London Plan will help ensure it remains so with a series of initiatives that are forward thinking and strategic interventions. London without its vibrant international culture is unthinkable especially now it is such a contributor to employment and the economy. "