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Policy E8 Sector growth opportunities and clusters


  1. Employment opportunities for Londoners across a diverse range of sectors should be promoted and supported along with support for the development of business growth and sector-specific opportunities.
  2. London’s global leadership in tech across all sectors should be maximised.
  3. The evolution of London’s diverse sectors should be supported, ensuring the availability of suitable workspaces including:
    1. start-up, incubation and accelerator space for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises
    2. flexible workspace such as co-working space and serviced offices
    3. conventional space for expanding businesses to grow or move on
    4. laboratory space and theatre, television and film studio capacity
    5. affordable workspace in defined circumstances (see Policy E3 Affordable workspace).
  4. Innovation, including London’s role as a location for research and development should be supported, and collaboration between businesses, higher education institutions and other relevant research and innovation organisations should be encouraged.
  5. London’s higher and further education institutions and their development across all parts of London should be promoted. Their integration into regeneration and development opportunities to support social mobility and the growth of emerging sectors should be encouraged.
  6. Clusters such as Tech City and MedCity should be promoted and the development of new clusters should be supported where opportunities exist, such as CleanTech innovation clusters, Creative Enterprise Zones, film, fashion and design clusters, and green enterprise districts such as in the Thames Gateway.
  7. In collaboration with the Mayor, boroughs are encouraged to identify and promote the development of Strategic Outer London Development Centres (SOLDC) that have one or more specialist economic functions of greater than sub-regional importance. SOLDCs should be supported by:
    1. encouraging local innovation to identify and enhance distinct economic strengths
    2. co-ordinating infrastructure investment
    3. creating a distinct and attractive business offer and public realm
    4. ensuring that development complements the growth of town centres and other business locations, and supports the environmental and transport objectives of this Plan
    5. bringing forward development capacity
    6. improving Londoners’ access to employment opportunities.

The Mayor wants London to continue to provide the best environment in the world in which to do business, so that businesses of all different sizes and sectors can reach their growth potential. This includes supporting business and employment across all sectors of the economy and capitalising on new growth opportunities in emerging sectors.

This Plan provides the planning framework to complement the Mayor’s Economic Development Strategy (EDS) to ensure that the varied innovation and workspace requirements of London’s businesses are met. This includes the retention and provision of flexible and other forms of workspace to support start-up, existing and growing SMEs. Incubator, accelerator and co-working spaces can provide support and collaboration opportunities for fledgling and growing businesses. Support should meet the requirements of a broad range of SMEs and, in particular, should be tailored to provide opportunities for women and people from Black and Minority Ethnicity (BAME) backgrounds.

In the EDS, the Mayor has identified a number of sector-specific opportunities and challenges that require a more targeted approach where he believes there are specific business growth opportunities. These include:

  • advanced urban services – such as architecture, urban design, planning, engineering, property development, energy and transport. The application of data and new technologies to these disciplines has the potential to make London work better as a city, or ‘smarter’, to become more productive, sustainable and liveable. The Mayor wants London to be a global test-bed for ‘smart city’ solutions, including improving the way people access public services. To support this, he will help to establish common standards for collecting data and make more data open to the public
  • culture and creative industries – building on London’s particular strengths in film, fashion and design, with clusters emerging across the city (including Creative Enterprise Zones – see Policy HC5 Supporting London’s culture and creative industries), and the Mayor’s vision to turn the Thames Estuary into a ‘Production Corridor’, developing facilities for artistic and creative production from East London to Southend
  • financial and business services – sustaining London’s position as a global financial services hub along with a diverse range of professional and business services including legal services, accounting and management consultancy (see Policy E1 Offices)
  • life sciences - London, Cambridge and Oxford form the “golden triangle” – a world-leading inter-connected region for life sciences research, development, manufacturing and commercialisation. MedCity – a collaboration between London, Cambridge and Oxford Academic Health Science Centres, co-funded by the Mayor - seeks to promote and grow this life sciences cluster. Development Plans should support the range of existing and proposed medical and life sciences research districts associated with MedCity such as those around the Euston Road (including the Francis Crick Institute, Wellcome Trust and University College Hospital); Imperial College London’s White City Campus; around Whitechapel, associated with Queen Mary University of London; and the London Cancer Hub. Within this sector there is particular demand for affordable ‘grow-on’ space (including laboratory space) to ensure London retains the innovations emerging from London-based universities. The networks and facilities that support London’s role as a centre of medical excellence should also be supported
  • low carbon and environmental goods and services sector – building on London’s existing strengths in areas such as carbon finance, geothermal, wind energy, building technologies, alternative fuels, photovoltaics and waste management. The Mayor will support businesses to adopt the principles of the circular economy - reducing waste, and improving resource recovery and reuse. The Mayor will also support the growth of London’s CleanTech sector across London. West London in particular offers a unique set of opportunities to support the growth of this sector, with the development of a major innovation campus by Imperial College at White City, and the simultaneous redevelopment of Old Oak and Park Royal into a smart and sustainable district
  • tech and digital sector – which supports the growth and evolution of all sectors in the economy. Planning should ensure that new developments have the digital connectivity required to support London’s global competitiveness (see Policy SI6  Digital connectivity infrastructure). In the City Fringe, the Tech City cluster should be supported as one of London’s nationally-significant office locations and complemented by Development Plan policies to enable entrepreneurs to locate and expand there and to provide the flexibility and range of space that this sector needs, including affordable space. The Mayor will support the growth of the tech and digital sector across all of London
  • tourism - which gives London an international profile - attracting people from across the world - and showcases London as a diverse and open city (see also Policy E10 Visitor infrastructure).

The Mayor also supports measures to secure and develop London’s leading role as a centre of higher and further education of national and international importance. London’s higher and further education institutions have considerable potential for innovation supported by collaboration between businesses, the public sector and other relevant research organisations. These initiatives can act as a catalyst for economic growth and promote social mobility in areas with high levels of deprivation by creating new jobs and training opportunities for local residents, as well as supporting the growth of emerging sectors in London. The Mayor will support higher and further education institutions and boroughs to identify opportunities to work in partnership to benefit from the development of higher and further education facilities.

The Strategic Outer London Development Centre (SOLDC) concept seeks to support the growth of business and employment opportunities beyond central London. This involves realising the potential of such locations to develop their specialist economic growth in ways which will help achieve the Mayor’s wider objectives. Town centres offer particular advantages for some specialist activities but the SOLDC concept can apply to a range of business locations including industrial areas. The approach is designed to encourage local innovation whilst ensuring that it supports and complements the economic prospects of neighbouring town centres including those in adjacent boroughs.

Implementation of the SOLDC concept will involve actions from a range of partners in light of local circumstances on matters including (but not exclusive to):

  • development Plans and frameworks (including Opportunity Area Planning Frameworks, local Area Action Plans and Town Centre strategies)
  • strategic infrastructure plans
  • new development and refurbishment
  • public transport connectivity and capacity upgrades
  • other infrastructure
  • management and investment (including Business Improvement Districts)
  • improvements to the business environment and public realm
  • promotion, branding and marketing.