Policy 3.16 Protection and enhancement of social infrastructure



A  London requires additional and enhanced social infrastructure provision to meet the needs of its growing and diverse population.

Planning decisions

B  Development proposals which provide high quality social infrastructure will be supported in light of local and strategic social infrastructure needs assessments. Proposals which would result in a loss of social infrastructure in areas of defined need for that type of social infrastructure without realistic proposals for reprovision should be resisted. The suitability of redundant social infrastructure premises for other forms of social infrastructure for which there is a defined need in the locality should be assessed before alternative developments are considered.  

C  Facilities should be accessible to all sections of the community (including disabled and older people) and be located within easy reach by walking, cycling and public transport. Wherever possible, the multiple use of premises should be encouraged.

LDF preparation

D  LDFs should provide a framework for collaborative engagement with social infrastructure providers and community organisations:

a  for the regular assessment of the need for social infrastructure at the local and sub-regional levels; and

b  to secure sites for future provision or reorganisation of provision.

Where appropriate, boroughs are encouraged to develop collaborative cross-boundary approaches in the provision and delivery of social infrastructure.

E  Boroughs should ensure that adequate social infrastructure provision is made to support new developments. If the current use of a facility is no longer needed, boroughs should take reasonable steps to identify alternative community uses where the needs have been identified. Adequate provision for social infrastructure is particularly important in areas of major new development and regeneration and should be addressed in opportunity area planning frameworks and other relevant area action plans.

F  The Mayor will work with boroughs, relevant social infrastructure providers and the voluntary and community sector as appropriate to extend proposed supplementary guidance on social infrastructure requirements, especially at the sub-regional and Londonwide levels.

Supporting text

3.86  Social infrastructure covers a wide range of facilities such as health provision, nurseries, schools, colleges and universities, community, cultural (Policy 4.6), play, recreation and sports and leisure facilities, places of worship, fire stations, policing and other criminal justice or community safety facilities and many other uses and activities which contribute to making an area more than just a place to live. At a more local level, other facilities may need to be provided, including play and informal recreation facilities (Policy 3.6), public toilets, drinking water fountains and seating (Policy 7.5). The whole range of social infrastructure has a major role to play in supporting London’s expected growth, particularly in places where significant new housing is proposed, such as opportunity and intensification areas (Policy 2.13) making residential areas more attractive and turning them into sustainable neighbourhoods and communities (Policy 7.1). It is therefore essential to plan for high quality social infrastructure alongside development particularly in major new development and regeneration areas[1].

3.87  Planning for infrastructure in London is complex, with a wide range of providers and stakeholders, and various degrees of clarity and opacity around future provision and funding for investment. Policies about, and responsibilities for, provision are subject to significant change. London is a city with a large diversity of neighbourhoods, communities and infrastructure and each area presents its own individual challenges.

3.87A  Loss of social infrastructure in areas of defined need may be acceptable if it can be demonstrated that the disposal of assets is part of an agreed programme of social infrastructure reprovision (in health and community safety, for example) to ensure continued delivery of social infrastructure and related services.

3.88  Boroughs and local strategic partnerships have a key role in bringing together the different parts of the public, private, community and voluntary sectors to tackle priority issues including health, education, lifelong learning, community safety, housing and transport infrastructure, and access to social, leisure and cultural activities through community strategies, local strategies and agreements and other policy tools.  In doing so, they may wish to develop, where appropriate, collaborative approaches to the provision and delivery of social infrastructure, and apply the following methodology:

  • engage all relevant stakeholders and assess relevant policies and strategies;
  • identify and analyse existing social infrastructure including its type, location, use, capacity, quality, and accessibility;
  • identify future needs using data such as population forecasts, school roll projections, Joint Strategic Needs Assessments, etc;
  • identify any gaps in provision and how these could be met;
  • identify funding and delivery mechanisms, including opportunities for joint delivery, sources of funding, and identification of potential sites;
  • monitor and review the delivery of services and facilities.

Data should be shared between planning authorities and service providers to inform implementation of Policies 3.16, 3.17, 3.18 and 3.19. Open space in all its forms represents an important component of social infrastructure and its protection and enhancement is an integral part of Policy 3.16. The methodology of Policy 3.16 applies to open space, but proposals must also accord other more specific policies, namely 2.18 (green infrastructure), 3.19 (sports facilities including playing fields), 7.16 (Green Belt), 7.17 (MOL) and 7.18 (local open space). Policies in Chapter 7 relating to the Blue Ribbon Network may also be relevant.

3.89  Existing or new developments should, wherever possible, extend the use of facilities to serve the wider community, especially within regeneration and other major development schemes. Shared and extended use of facilities, including those of schools, commercial and community-based organisations can help ensure the effective use of resources and land, encourage joined-up and coherent service delivery and shared maintenance and management costs. It can also help minimise travel distances for users and encourage community participation and inclusion. Multi-use community centres that provide flexible and accessible spaces adaptable to communities’ needs should be encouraged.

3.90     Boroughs should develop a criteria-based approach to the provision of different types of social infrastructure facilities and the expansion of existing facilities, taking into account the location and layout of facilities. Facilities should be:

  • easily accessible to all sections of the community (including disabled people and older people) by meeting inclusive design principles
  • easily accessible by walking and cycling
  • well connected to public transport
  • affordable and compatible with social infrastructure service delivery plans
  • well laid out and flexible, so that all the space is used efficiently
  • safe and user-friendly
  • integrated with or complementing other neighbouring facilities or services as part of achieving a lifetime neighbourhood (Policy 7.1).

For some emergency services infrastructure, good public transport accessibility is not a high priority.

3.91  Voluntary and community groups often find it difficult to find premises suitable for their needs; unused or underused facilities should be brought into use as much as possible to help address their accommodation needs. The additional use or reuse of places of worship should be considered for the purpose of providing accommodation for use by other traditions or other faiths and/or wider community functions.

[1] Mayor of London.  Social Infrastructure.  Draft Supplementary Planning Guidance.  GLA, 2014

Share this page