Policy 3.18 Education facilities


A  The Mayor will support provision of childcare, primary and secondary school, and further and higher education facilities adequate to meet the demands of a growing and changing population and to enable greater educational choice, including in parts of London with poor educational performance.

B  The Mayor strongly supports the establishment of new schools, including free schools and opportunities to enable local people and communities to do this.

Planning decisions

C  Development proposals which enhance education and skills provision will be supported, including new build, expansion of existing or change of use to educational purposes.  Those which address the current and projected shortage of primary school places and the projected shortage of secondary school places will be particularly encouraged.  Proposals which result in the net loss of education facilities should be resisted, unless it can be demonstrated that there is no ongoing or future demand.

D  In particular, proposals for new schools, including free schools should be given positive consideration and should only be refused where there are demonstrable negative local impacts which substantially outweigh the desirability of establishing a new school and which cannot be addressed through the appropriate use of planning conditions or obligations.

E  Development proposals which maximise the extended or multiple use of educational facilities for community or recreational use should be encouraged.

F  Development proposals that encourage co-location of services between schools and colleges and other provision should be encouraged in order to maximise land use, reduce costs and develop the extended school or college’s offer. On-site or off-site sharing of services between schools and colleges should be supported.

G  Development proposals that co-locate schools with housing should be encouraged in order to maximise land use and reduce costs.

LDF preparation

H  LDFs and related borough strategies should provide the framework:

a  for the regular assessment of the need for childcare, school, higher and further education institutions and community learning facilities at the local and sub-regional levels; and

b  to secure sites for future provision recognising local needs and the particular requirements of the education sector.

I  Boroughs should support and maintain London’s international reputation as a centre of excellence in higher education.

Supporting text

3.98  A growing city with an increasing number of young people will need more educational facilities at all levels. At the same time, policy favours greater choice of school provision, including in parts of London with problems of poor educational performance. Planning policies supporting the allocation of sufficient space for education and facilitating development of schools and colleges in appropriate places will be essential to London’s continued economic success, tackling exclusion and disadvantage and improving quality of life. The Mayor’s approach to schools development reflects the joint policy statement of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and the Secretary of State for Education on Planning for Schools Development of August 2011.

3.99  This Policy complements Policy 3.16 on social infrastructure. Boroughs should refer to both policies when planning for education facilities.

Childcare provision

3.100  Access to adequate, affordable and high quality childcare (pre-school and school age) provision plays a key role in children’s development and enables parents to go back to work. To address the shortage of childcare facilities in London, boroughs should make regular assessments of provision for childcare and draw up proposals to address any shortfalls.  Boroughs should ensure that the location and provision of a range of services at children’s centres continue to meet the needs of local communities in consultation with parents, the private, voluntary and independent sectors, primary care trusts, Jobcentre Plus and other key partners.

3.101  Childcare facilities should be safe, accessible for all (including disabled children), multi-functional and provide both indoor and outdoor learning opportunities.  Proposals for housing and commercial facilities should provide suitable childcare for those in need of it, in particular in disadvantaged areas.

Primary and secondary schools

3.102  Access to a high quality school education is a fundamental determinant of the future opportunities and life chances of London’s children and young people. London’s population will continue to be younger than elsewhere in England and Wales and by 2036, its school age population is projected to increase by 18 per cent. The Mayor’s 2020 vision identifies a need for 4,000 extra primary classes by 2020. As a response to the recommendations of the Mayor’s Education Inquiry[1], the GLA Intelligence Unit has produced the London Schools Atlas[2], an interactive map enabling users to view both existing patterns of schooling across the capital, and projections of future changes in the school age population.  The Atlas is intended to be a resource for both parents and school place planners that supports collaborative working between providers in London.

3.102A  At the same time, national education policy favours greater diversity in the nature of supply, through the Academies Act 2010 and the setting up of the Free Schools, alongside greater devolution of responsibilities from local authorities to schools.  Local authorities’ strategic role in the new system will be to take a proactive, positive and collaborative approach to development that will widen choice in education, promoting a good supply of strong schools and encouraging the development of Academies and Free Schools.  Local authorities will still be required to fulfil their statutory duty to secure sufficient school places within their areas.[3]

3.103  Land already in educational use should be safeguarded and new sites secured to meet additional demands or changes in provision.  The NPPF (para 72) states that local planning authorities should give great weight to the need to create, expand or alter schools and work with school promoters to identify and resolve key planning issues at an early stage[4]. Boroughs should identify at an early stage the need for additional schools arising from development and regeneration, particularly where there are existing shortages.  Development can be a catalyst for positive change.  The identification of suitable sites should be carried out taking into account policies in this Plan, and in particular accessibility by public transport as well as by cycle and by foot.

3.104  School facilities can provide venues for a range of community activities, including children’s centres, and cultural and sports activities, where children and parents feel comfortable to access them.  School facilities such as sports, training and meeting facilities should be capable of use by the wider community outside school hours.  Maximum use of schools in the evenings and at weekends will reduce the land requirement for other uses.

3.105  Partnership working with other schools and with wider children’s services should be developed in order to offer more to children than any one partner could alone.  Schools should look to make arrangements to use local off-site provision when these are not fully used during school day.

3.106  In order to support educational attainment and adapt to changing work and lifestyle patterns, the needs for facilities for children with special needs and additional pre or after school activities need to be considered.  The Mayor supports the role of uniformed and non-uniformed youth organisations delivering positive activities that improve the life chances of London’s children and young people.

Higher and further education

3.107  Higher education in London provides an unparalleled choice of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, continuing professional development, advanced research, and infrastructure to support business growth, e.g., incubation space and business support services.  It is also a major employer and attracts major international companies able to benefit from the universities’ research reputation, such as in pharmaceuticals and life sciences. Universities also play a vital part in ensuring Londoners have the higher order skills necessary to succeed in a changing economy, and for the capital to remain globally competitive (Policy 4.12). The Mayor has established a forum for higher education institutions (HEIs) and further education establishments to work with boroughs and other stakeholders to plan future developments, including student accommodation (Policy 3.8) in locations with good public transport access, taking account of their sub-regional and wider spheres of operation and capacity to contribute to the wider objectives of this Plan.

3.108  Access to further education (FE) is important for both the large proportion of Londoners who do not go into higher education and, in some places, for sixth form provision. FE colleges provide a key role in skills development and life-long learning and will assist with Londoners’ employment (Policy 4.12). They also provide valuable community facilities and services, and the Mayor will support the protection and enhancement of FE colleges and facilities


[1]     Mayor of London. The Mayor’s Education Inquiry, Final Report: Findings and Recommendations. GLA, October 2012

[2]       London Schools Atlas

[3]     Education Act 1944

[4]     CLG. 2012 op cit. NPPF paragraph 72 

Share this page