London Plan (Supplementary) [3]

Session date: 
December 14, 2017
Question By: 
Susan Hall
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Susan Hall AM:  Mayor, now that you have accepted in your new draft London Plan that fire safety can be a planning issue, will you now agree to review the fire safety of the tower blocks that you have previously approved on a call-in, especially the 17-storey Palmerston Road tower blocks in Harrow, where the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) was not even consulted on the proposals and where there is no commitment to a sprinkler system?

Supplementary To: 


Answer for London Plan (Supplementary) [3]

Answer for London Plan (Supplementary) [3]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  All the planning rules that currently exist before the draft London Plan were followed when permission was given.  If it is a building control issue, that is a matter for the local council.


Susan Hall AM:  That is a no.  When I asked you about this in the June [2017] MQT, you refused to review these applications because you insisted that new blocks are different from old blocks.  However, your new draft London Plan now includes fire safety requirements for new blocks.  Can you guarantee to me that the tower blocks you have approved would meet with these requirements?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Chair, let me try to answer this in a way that addresses the point the Assembly Member makes.  The draft London Plan that we published a couple of weeks ago is now out for consultation and that will, hopefully, after consultation, become the London Plan.  The Assembly Member is asking me to retrospectively use the provisions of the draft London Plan on an application given permission a few months ago.  That is the question, as I understand it.


Susan Hall AM:  Yes.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  The answer is: I cannot do that.  I am not allowed by law.


Susan Hall AM:  You pooh-poohed it at the time, anyway, but given that you have called for sprinklers to be installed in every tower block, why have you not required this in your new fire safety policy?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  The new draft London Plan?


Susan Hall AM:  Why have you not required sprinklers in your new fire safety policy?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  The new draft London Plan has a number of things which are pioneering and nobody else has them, including the need for fire evacuation lifts, including the need for a third-party statement, including the consideration of other ways of suppressing fires.  One way is sprinklers; one way is water mist, for example, in elderly homes, and those are things that no other plan has, let alone the London Plan.  That is in the draft London Plan which we are consulting on.


If the question is whether I can retrospectively apply these to those schemes given permission or those buildings already built, the answer is that I am not allowed to.  However, if it is the case that the Assembly Member feels strongly about this, she will give evidence to the review the Government is undertaken and also lobby her Government to financially help those councils to retrofit sprinklers into these tower blocks so that these tower blocks can be safe.


Susan Hall AM:  At the actual time I asked you, Mayor, and you pooh-poohed it.  On to a slightly different aspect, are you concerned that your London Plan policies could see the proliferation of beds in sheds?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  No.


Susan Hall AM:  Do you think beds in sheds are a problem?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  One of the reasons why we have beds in sheds, Chair, is because of the housing crisis caused by successive governments.  Anybody who knows anything will know in eight of the last ten years there has been a Conservative Mayor and in seven of the last ten years a Conservative Government, and so you would hope there would be some humility in relation to the crisis of beds in sheds.


Tony Devenish AM:  Gordon Brown’s [former Prime Minister] Government?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  It is a big problem.  I have been out on a raid with Newham Council, which is taking action against landlords who are taking advantage of these tenants.  There literally are beds in sheds, I am afraid.


One of the things I was hoping the Government would do is to give them more powers over licensing of private premises.  Unfortunately, her Government failed to do so, but I will work with local authorities to take action against rogue landlords who have beds in sheds.


Susan Hall AM:  Mr Mayor, do you think it is appropriate that at every given opportunity the only thing you do is manage to criticise somebody other than giving a constructive answer to anything?  Do you think that is appropriate?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I do not accept the premise of your question and I blame you for that.


Tony Devenish AM:  And it is all Boris’s fault, you know.


Susan Hall AM:  Of course.  Boris’s and the Government’s.


Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  Assembly Member Hall, are you willing to go back --


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  That was also a press release, I suspect, Chair.


Susan Hall AM:  I’ve finished.