Street based developments (2)

Meeting: 
MQT on 2014-09-17
Session date: 
September 17, 2014
Reference: 
2014/3515
Question By: 
Andrew Boff
Organisation: 
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

You have indicated that you would like a review of the London Plan to ensure that it encourages street based developments. When will this review start?

Answer

Answer for Street based developments (2)

Answer for Street based developments (2)

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Yes, Andrew, I do think that the London Plan is very keen on street-based developments and already supports street-based developments, as I know you do and I do.  I undertook to give you some examples of recent schemes that we have seen in our planning system at City Hall that support those street-based developments.  I do not know if you have had a chance to look at them yet.  Some of them are truly wonderful and I certainly share your conviction that where you can do street-based developments with front doors open to the street, you should. However it is just an illusion to think you can do it everywhere. 

Andrew Boff AM:  Thank you, Mr Mayor.  I have received those examples of street-based developments.  However, that did not include a list of those developments that were not street-based.  I specifically ‑‑ 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  You did not ask for that, with great respect. 

Andrew Boff AM:  I did, I did. 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  You did?  Right, OK. 

Andrew Boff AM:  That was offline from the last meeting. 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I am sorry. 

Andrew Boff AM:  At the last meeting, I specifically asked you for a review of the London Plan to ensure that it encourages street-based development, and my question to you, to which you replied, “Yes”, is when will this review start? 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  As I have said, we think that the London Plan gives plenty of encouragement to the kind of developments that you and I and Nicholas Boys Smith of Create Streets and others want to see.  We had an interesting discussion last time about the role of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) and why the need for lift shafts is having, I think, a perverse effect, because you cannot under building regulations now build a dwelling in London of more than three stories without a lift.  That means that it is very difficult to go back to the kind of quite high terrace housing that you see, that gets very good densities and provides wonderful accommodation in so much of central London, because if you go up only to, say, five or six stories, you are legally obliged to install a lift core, which puts a considerable extra expense on the development.  Generally speaking, that is only going to be recouped by going up to ten stories or 14 stories or whatever, so there is something worth thinking about there.  Could we vary that?  Could we contemplate having dwellings of four, five, six stories without lifts?  That is something that I know will be very controversial and very difficult. 

Andrew Boff AM:  I welcome that description of the challenges, Mr Mayor, but my question was very, very specific, and that is when will this review start, because I said to you - and this is logged by the Assembly - would you support a review of the London Plan to see what gets in the way of providing street-based development.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Oh, right.  OK, I can answer the question, I can answer.

Andrew Boff AM:  Your reply to that was yes. 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Yes, OK. 

Andrew Boff AM:  Did you in fact mean to say no? 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  What it means is yes, there has been such a review.  It took place between the time you last asked a question and now and the review has concluded that the London Plan does provide sufficient encouragement.

Andrew Boff AM:  Thank you.  Can I see how that review took place and who you took evidence from? 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I see.  You mean that kind of review?

Andrew Boff AM:  Let us repeat that again, Mr Mayor.  Would you support a review of the London Plan to see what gets in the way of providing street-based development? 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I think there is a ‑‑ 

Andrew Boff AM:  You have answered yes.  That has been logged by the Assembly and you are now telling me that the review has been done but nobody knew it happened. 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I knew it had happened in the sense that I decided to consult my people about whether the London Plan provided the kind of street-based developments that we all want to see.  They assured me that it did provide such encouragement.  They provided plenty of examples of such street-based developments going up across the city.  I have been able to show you loads of examples of those developments.  If you want us to have further alterations to the London Plan ‑‑ 

Andrew Boff AM:  Mr Mayor, it is ever so simple.  If there was a review, I want to see who was consulted and what the nature of that review was.  If there was no review, I want to know why there was no review when your commitment at this last meeting was most definitely that there should be a review.  I do not want to fall out with on this, Mr Mayor. 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  No, I do not want to fall out with you.  What I meant by a review is we would have a look at it.  We did have a look at it and we decided we had reviewed it.  We reviewed it very briefly in an expeditious and cost-effective way, without calling counsel, without the need for an inquiry, without the tedium of an inquiry.  We conducted what is called a desktop review.  It was a desktop review, but since, let us be absolutely clear, what you seem to want is an all-singing, all-dancing inquiry into the London Plan and whether it provides the encouragement that you seek for street-based developments, I will see what we can do.  We have been doing the further alterations to the London Plan only recently.  Did you attend any of those sessions? 

Andrew Boff AM:  We were represented by Nicky Gavron at those reviews. 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I know, but you could have gone to that. For instance, where we had an examination in public and raised these, but I will look at the model and see what is actually involved in having the kind of review that you describe. 

Andrew Boff AM:  Can I just say, this is a big issue in London, what London is going to look like in the future, and may I say your instincts are absolutely right, but your excuses seem to be those from your officials? 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  No, I have given you lots of examples where we have street-based schemes going ahead and traditional street layouts with rear gardens.  They have all been considered by me in the last six months or so in Stanmore Car Park, all street-based layouts, terraced houses of two or three stories ‑‑ 

Andrew Boff AM:  Mr Mayor, can I just say ‑‑ 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Cat Hill Campus in Cockfosters --

Andrew Boff AM:  In closing therefore, Mr Mayor, I do not want to take up too much more time, but let us just say ‑‑ 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  --Barnet and Southgate College, 74 houses  -- 

Andrew Boff AM:  A test of that, Mr Mayor, will be the results of the deliberations on Mount Pleasant [Royal Mail sorting office].  We will see what comes out of that and then perhaps we will revisit it after a decision is made.  Thank you, Mr Mayor.