This chapter gives a strategic framework for those parts of London that will see significant development over the lifetime of the Plan, and addresses how change will be managed for London’s most sensitive and complex places. The Key Diagram (Figure 2.1) presents the spatial vision set out in this chapter, covering London’s growth corridors, Opportunity Areas, town centres, and Green Belt and Metropolitan Open Land.
London’s green and open spaces are a vital part of the capital. Its parks, rivers and green open spaces are some of the places that people most cherish and they bring the benefits of the natural environment within reach of Londoners. London’s Green Belt and Metropolitan Open Land designations (see Chapter 8) serve to protect these strategically-important open spaces, prevent urban sprawl and focus investment and development on previously developed land.
If London is to meet the challenges of the future, all parts of London will need to embrace and manage change. Not all change will be transformative – in many places, change will occur incrementally. This is especially the case in outer London, where the suburban pattern of development has significant potential for appropriate intensification over time, particularly for additional housing.
The areas that will see the most significant change are identified as Opportunity Areas. Many of these Opportunity Areas are already seeing significant development, and they all have the potential to deliver a substantial amount of the new homes and jobs that London needs. The London Plan has a clear focus on delivery – something that will require all stakeholders to work together to unlock sites and drive the right sort of development. Infrastructure is key to this delivery and will require major investment in transport, with Opportunity Areas clustered into growth corridors; and proper planning of utilities and communications capacity and the social infrastructure that supports the day-to-day lives of Londoners, well in advance of new development. Opportunity Area Planning Frameworks and Local Plans should have clear strategies for their delivery.
London’s Central Activities Zone (CAZ) and town centres are the primary locations for commercial activity in the capital. These are complex parts of London, with a wide mix of uses and unique local character. The CAZ and the town centre network have a crucial role to play in supporting London’s growth, and the London Plan sets out how this growth should be managed and planned for. Many town centres and the surrounding areas have potential to accommodate significant quantities of new housing, making the most of walking, cycling and public transport connectivity and complementing their commercial role.
Growth and change have not always benefited Londoners equally. In some cases, the wrong sort of growth has led to established communities finding themselves priced out of the area they call home. Some parts of the city have not benefited from the advantages the growth of London provides, with too many areas in London still experiencing deprivation despite the wider success of the capital. To address this, it is important that there is a strong focus on sustainable and inclusive regeneration in these areas, with boroughs, the Mayor and other partners working closely with the local community to bring about the right sort of change and investment. Where significant development is planned in these areas, it is crucial that it benefits local communities, provides employment and genuinely affordable housing, and is properly integrated into the area.