I am proud to publish this new and ambitious London Plan. Many Londoners won’t know about or have come across the London Plan, but it shapes their lives on a daily basis. It is one of the most crucial documents for our city, and what it contains shapes how London evolves and develops over coming years. Since I was elected Mayor in May 2016, publishing a new and revised London Plan, one that reflected the policies and issues on which I was elected by the people of this great city, has been a major priority for my administration. This new London Plan marks a break with previous London Plans, represents a step-change in our approach and serves as a blueprint for the future development and sustainable, inclusive growth of our city.
Over many decades, London has evolved, resulting in an extraordinary web of distinctive residential streets, squares, markets, parks, offices, and industrial and creative spaces. And the built environment we see today – the legacy of previous generations – has not just shaped the way our city looks, but has had a profound impact on how and where we live, work, study and socialise with one another.
Throughout this evolution, London has seen waves of growth and our surroundings reflect these past chapters of rapid development and change. We now face another wave of growth, the likes of which we’ve not seen for a century. Our population is projected to increase by 70,000 every year, reaching 10.5 million in 2041. This means that just to meet demand, at least 66,000 new homes need to be built – along with space for tens of thousands of new jobs – every single year.
Preparing to deal with such a level of growth is undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges of our times, putting pressure on land, housing, infrastructure and the environment. It also comes as we are facing other unprecedented challenges: Brexit and the uncertainty this is causing; air pollution; climate change; and entrenched inequality. Yet despite these challenges, I am optimistic that we can embrace London’s population rise as a once in a lifetime opportunity to write the next big chapter in London’s history and to deliver a new vision for our city. We let down future generations if we do not properly plan for accommodating growth in a way which is environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.
So this London Plan sets out a new way of doing things, something I am calling Good Growth. Good Growth is about working to re-balance development in London towards more genuinely affordable homes for working Londoners to buy and rent. And it’s about delivering a more socially integrated and sustainable city, where people have more of a say and growth brings the best out of existing places while providing new opportunities to communities.
Good Growth is not about supporting growth at any cost, which for too long has been the priority, leaving many Londoners feeling excluded and contributing to a lack of community cohesion and social integration.
Some of the very richest and very poorest people in the country live in London, with life expectancy differing by up to 19 years between boroughs. The economic prosperity and wealth, often right on some people’s doorsteps, seems more remote and inaccessible to them than ever before. For too many Londoners, the thought of buying somewhere to call home is out of reach.
Instead, what we need is growth that allows us to build thousands of genuinely affordable homes at the same time as creating a more inclusive, greener and safer city that supports the health and wellbeing of all Londoners.
There are no quick fixes to the housing crisis London faces. I have always been honest with Londoners that it’s going to be a marathon, not a sprint. But we are already making progress and this plan underscores my determination to address this huge problem.
Central to the plan is how we can help boroughs better co-ordinate growth across London. It includes strong new measures and sets ambitious targets for every London borough for building the housing we need – with the goal of roughly doubling the current rate of homebuilding. This goes alongside my strategic target for half of new homes to be genuinely affordable.
Unlike previous versions of the London Plan, which have often read as sweeping statements of ambition rather than concrete plans for action, this document places a specific focus on tangible policies and planning issues and provides greater clarity over how the plan will be implemented and where in London major development and infrastructure should be delivered.
Crucially, the plan also details how my housing, social, economic, cultural, environmental and transport policies tie together to achieve maximum impact. This integration across different policy areas is key to creating the conditions for sustainable growth, spawning new and exciting opportunities for Londoners and helping to deliver my wider vision for our city.
Through this London Plan, I want to build a city that works for all Londoners – where everyone has the opportunity to reach their potential, lead fulfilling lives and build tight bonds with people from many different backgrounds within their communities.
My vision is for a city with an economy that supports more and better paid jobs spread across the capital. A city where people can spend less time commuting because we have so many thriving parts of London, with good affordable housing, combined with exciting, cutting-edge career opportunities. And a city where access to great culture is built into the fabric of every part of London, with our rich heritage and cultural offer supporting our growing world-class creative industries.
I also see the London Plan revolutionising the way we get around our city - enabling a boom in active travel, with walking and cycling becoming the primary, default choice for millions of Londoners because we have made it far easier and safer. I envisage London as a greener city, with high quality open spaces, parks and commons, and one where we lead the way in tackling climate change by moving towards a zero-carbon city by 2050. And when I look to the future, I see London as a city with clean air for our children to breath, and a pioneering smart city with world-class digital connectivity supporting more digital devices to improve the lives of Londoners and enable businesses to thrive.
This London Plan is fundamentally about taking a holistic approach and utilising all the levers we have in London to shape our city for the better, built around the needs, health and wellbeing of all Londoners. It combines a purpose and a vision. This new approach sets us up for some exciting and innovative times ahead as our population grows. But we need everyone to do their bit, including boroughs, developers, land owners, existing residents, architects and, of course, the Government.
The level of growth we must plan for will require significant investment - both from businesses and the public sector – in transport, infrastructure and affordable housing. And in order to deliver the fundamental change we need in the long-term, the Government should step up and give more powers and investment to London.
There is no question we face some huge challenges ahead. But this London Plan is an opportunity we must grasp to shape the future of our city for generations to come - not only in regard to the way it looks and feels, but in its character and how Londoners live prosperous and fulfilling lives.
Mayor of London