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Policy HC5 Supporting London's culture and creative industries


  1. The continued growth and evolution of London’s diverse cultural facilities and creative industries is supported. In Local Plans and through planning decisions, boroughs should:
    1. protect existing cultural venues, facilities and uses where appropriate and support the development of new cultural venues in town centres and places with good public transport connectivity
    2. identify and promote new, or enhance existing, locally-distinct clusters of cultural facilities, venues and related uses defined as Cultural Quarters, especially where they can provide an anchor for local regeneration and town centre renewal
    3. identify, protect and enhance strategic clusters of cultural attractions
    4. consider the use of vacant properties and land for pop-ups or meanwhile uses for cultural and creative activities during the day and at night-time to stimulate vibrancy and viability and promote diversity in town centres, Cultural Quarters and other areas
    5. seek to ensure that Opportunity Areas and large-scale mixed-use developments include new cultural venues and/or facilities and spaces for outdoor cultural events.
  2. Boroughs are encouraged to work with the Mayor and relevant stakeholders to identify Creative Enterprise Zones in Local Plans:
    1. in areas that have emerging or existing clusters of creative industries; or
    2. in areas of identified demand and more deprived areas where there is evidence that the designation of a Creative Enterprise Zone will enhance the local economy and provide facilities and workspace for the creative industries.
  3. Where a Creative Enterprise Zone has been identified, Local Plan policies should:
    1. develop, enhance, protect and manage new and existing creative workspace, providing flexibility for changing business needs, and an attractive business environment including related ancillary facilities
    2. support existing, and the development of new, cultural venues within the Creative Enterprise Zone
    3. help deliver spaces that are suitable, attractive and affordable for the creative industries, taking into account the particular requirements of established and emerging creative businesses in the Creative Enterprise Zone in accordance with Policy E2 Low-cost business space, Policy E4 Land for industry, logistics and services to support London’s economic function and Policy E8 Sector growth opportunities and clusters
    4. encourage the temporary use of vacant buildings and sites for creative workspace and activities
    5. integrate public transport, digital and other infrastructure and service provision such as leisure, recreation and community facilities in the establishment and development of the Creative Enterprise Zone
    6. support a mix of uses which derive mutual benefits from, and do not compromise, the creative industries and cultural facilities in the Creative Enterprise Zone in line with the Agent of Change principle (see Policy D12 Agent of Change)
    7. contribute to the achievement of wider objectives for the business location such as the economic vitality and diversity of a town centre or the intensification of an industrial area.

London’s rich cultural offer includes visual and performing arts, music, spectator sports, festivals and carnivals, pop-ups and street markets, and a diverse and innovative food scene, which is important for London’s cultural tourism. The capital’s cultural offer is often informed, supported and influenced by the work of the creative industries such as advertising, architecture, design, fashion, publishing, television, video games, radio and film. Cultural facilities and venues include premises for cultural production and consumption such as performing and visual arts studios, creative industries workspace, museums, theatres, cinemas, libraries, and music and other entertainment venues, including pubs and night clubs. Although primarily serving other functions, the public realm, parks, skate-parks and sports venues can provide important settings for a wide range of arts and cultural activities.

London’s culture sector and the creative industries deliver both economic and social benefits for the capital. In 2015, the Gross Value Added (GVA) of the creative industries in London was estimated at £42 billion, accounting for just under half of the UK total from these industries, and contributing 11.1 per cent to London’s total GVA. Cultural tourism supported 80,000 jobs and contributed £3.2 billion of GVA to London in 2013, just under a third of the overall contribution from the tourism sector as a whole. As well as being one of London’s most dynamic sectors, culture also plays a role in building strong communities, increasing healthy life outcomes and generating civic pride.

Despite this positive general picture, London’s competitive land market means that the industry is struggling to find sufficient venues to grow and thrive, and is losing essential spaces and venues for cultural production and consumption including pubs, clubs and music venues. Creative businesses and artists also struggle to find workspace and secure long-term financing and business support as their activities are perceived to be ‘risky’ or of non-commercial value.

Boroughs are encouraged to develop an understanding of the existing cultural offer in their areas, evaluate what is unique or important to residents, workers and visitors and develop policies to protect those cultural assets. Boroughs should draw on the Mayor’s forthcoming Cultural Infrastructure Plan to assess and develop their cultural offer. Boroughs should also consider how the cultural offer serves different groups of people (such as young people, BAME groups and the LGBT+ community), and where the cultural offer is lacking for particular groups. Boroughs should put in place policies and strategies to ensure that cultural facilities catering for such groups and communities are protected, especially facilities that are used in the evening and night time.

The loss of cultural venues, facilities or spaces can have a detrimental effect on an area, particularly when they serve a local community function. Where possible, boroughs should protect such cultural facilities and uses, particularly those with an evening or night-time use, and support nominations to designate them as Assets of Community Value. Where a development proposal leads to the loss of a venue or facility, boroughs should consider requiring the replacement of that facility or use.

Boroughs are also encouraged to support opportunities to use vacant buildings and land for flexible and temporary ‘meanwhile uses’ or ‘pop-ups especially for alternative cultural day and night-time uses. The use of temporary buildings and spaces for cultural and creative uses can help stimulate vibrancy, vitality and viability in town centres by creating social and economic value from vacant properties. Meanwhile uses can also help prevent blight in town centres and reduce the risk of arson, fly tipping and vandalism. The benefits of meanwhile use also include short-term affordable accommodation for SMEs and individuals, generating a short-term source of revenue for the local economy and providing new and interesting shops, cultural and other events and spaces, which can attract longer-term business investment. Parameters for any meanwhile use, particularly its longevity and associated obligations, should be established from the outset and agreed by all parties.

Events and activities such as festivals, seasonal markets, exhibitions, performances, outdoor concerts and busking are not always dependent on using a dedicated cultural facility or venue and can make use of a range of outdoor spaces including streets, parks and other public areas. These types of activities, which are often free, offer a way for everyone to experience and participate in London’s rich cultural life. The opportunity to incorporate these uses should be identified and facilitated through careful design.

As well as protecting existing venues and facilities, boroughs should also work with a range of partners to develop and promote clusters of cultural activities and related uses and define them in their Local Plan. A successful Cultural Quarter should build on the existing cultural character of an area and encourage a mix of uses, including cafés, restaurants and bars alongside cultural assets and facilities, to attract visitors and generate interest. A Cultural Quarter can be used to form the basis for sustained cultural activity but may also include temporary activities and uses such as festivals, markets, exhibitions, performances and other cultural events.

Where appropriate, boroughs should use Cultural Quarters to seek synergies between cultural provision, schools, and higher and further education which can be used to nurture volunteering, new talent and audiences. This can include partnerships with a range of cultural organisations, such as libraries, museums, galleries, music venues, dance studios, and theatres.

Boroughs should maximise opportunities for developing Cultural Quarters in Opportunity Areas, other Areas for Regeneration and large-scale developments. The inclusion of new cultural venues and facilities can assist with place-making, creating an attractive and vibrant area for residents, workers and visitors, as well as helping to form the character and distinctiveness of a new place.

London is internationally-renowned for its historic environment and cultural institutions, which are major visitor attractions as well as making an enormous contribution to the capital’s culture and heritage. There are many areas in London which are rich in cultural heritage and have a unique cultural offer. These act as key visitor hubs for Londoners and domestic and international tourists and as such should be protected and promoted. They include: clusters of museums such as the South Kensington museums complex; the theatres, concert halls and galleries of the Southbank/Bankside/London Bridge area; the theatres and cinemas of the West End; Wembley Stadium and Wembley Arena; the Greenwich Riverside and O2 Centre; the Olympic Park; and London’s Arcadia including Kew Gardens, parks, historic buildings and landscapes between Hampton Court and Kew along the River Thames. Boroughs should identify these and other strategic clusters of cultural attractions in their Local Plans.

Creative industries play an important role in London’s economy and its cultural offer and as a sector, are growing at a faster rate than any other area of the economy. As part of his support for the creative industries, the Mayor is committed to working with boroughs and other relevant stakeholders to identify and set up Creative Enterprise Zones (CEZs). Setting up a CEZ can help boost the local economy of more deprived areas and support their regeneration. CEZs will support the provision of dedicated small industrial and creative workspaces and will seek to address issues of affordability and suitability of space for artists and creative businesses.

CEZs should seek to protect, develop and deliver new spaces the creative industries need to produce, manufacture, design, rehearse and create cultural goods, as well as ancillary facilities where they can meet clients, network, share knowledge and showcase their work. Boroughs will be responsible for defining these areas in their Local Plans and developing policies to provide the workspace the industries need. This should include protecting existing workspace and encouraging new workspaces for the creative industries, ensuring that low-cost business space and affordable workspace is made available in accordance with Policy E2 Low-cost business space, Policy E3 Affordable workspace and Policy E8 Sector growth opportunities and clusters, and encouraging the temporary use of vacant buildings for creative uses.