Under the legislation establishing the Greater London Authority (GLA), the Mayor is required to publish a Spatial Development Strategy (SDS) and keep it under review. The SDS is known as the London Plan. As the overall strategic plan for London, it sets out an integrated economic, environmental, transport and social framework for the development of London over the next 20-25 years.
The legislation stipulates that the London Plan should only deal with things of strategic importance to Greater London taking account of the principal purposes of the Greater London Authority which are:
- promoting economic development and wealth creation in Greater London
- promoting social development in Greater London; and
- promoting the improvement of the environment in Greater London.
 GLA Act 1999, section 334(5)
 GLA Act 1999, section 30
In developing this strategy, in accordance with the legislation and associated regulations, the Mayor has had regard to:
- the principle that there should be equality of opportunity for all people
- reducing health inequality and promoting Londoners’ health
- achieving sustainable development in the United Kingdom
- climate change and the consequences of climate change
- the desirability of promoting and encouraging the use of the Thames, particularly for passenger and freight transportation
- the resources available to implement the Mayor’s strategies.
 GLA Act 1999, Section 41
In drawing up the new London Plan, the Mayor has also had regard to:
- all relevant European Union legislation and policy instruments like the European Spatial Development Perspective
- the need to ensure consistency with national policies and international treaty obligations notified to the Mayor by Government, without seeking to repeat national policy
- the Mayor’s other statutory obligations including the duty for the GLA to do all it reasonably can to prevent crime and disorder under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, and the public-sector equality duty, as set out in Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010, covering race, disability, gender, age, sexual orientation, religion or belief, pregnancy and maternity, and gender reassignment
- the specific requirements of the Town and Country Planning (London Spatial Development Strategy) Regulations 2000.
The London Plan is legally part of each of London’s Local Planning Authorities’ Development Plan and must be taken into account when planning decisions are taken in any part of London. Planning applications should be determined in accordance with it, unless there are sound planning reasons (other material considerations) which indicate otherwise. The Plan provides the strategic, London-wide policy context for borough local development plan documents; all local development plan documents and Neighbourhood Plans have to be ‘in general
Planning in London is the joint responsibility of the Mayor of London and the 32 London boroughs, the City of London Corporation and the Mayoral Development Corporations (MDCs), of which there are currently two: the London Legacy Development Corporation and the Old Oak Park Royal Development Corporation. When the Plan refers to ‘boroughs’ it is referring to the 32 London boroughs, the City of London and the MDCs. This approach has been taken to make the document more readable.
The Plan sets out policies and supporting text (also known as reasoned justification). These take account of:
- the legal requirements related to the development of the Plan (including those discussed above) and the various issues that European and national legislation requires to be considered
- other requirements of planning law and Government planning policy and guidance (without seeking to repeat these)
- the integrated impact and habitats regulations assessment
- the evidence that underpins the Plan (without seeking to repeat it).
This London Plan runs from 2019 to 2041. This date has been chosen to provide a longer-term view of London’s development to inform decision making. However, some of the more detailed elements of the Plan, such as the housing targets are set only for the first ten years of the Plan. This reflects the dynamic nature of London’s land market and means that there will need to be a review of the housing targets before 2029. Other elements of the Plan will need to be updated over time through Supplementary Planning Guidance as part of the ‘plan, monitor, manage’ approach.
 The draft Plan is underpinned by housing and economic projections. These projections are based on past trends. Monitoring this sort of information and the implementation of the Plan identifies when policies may need to be reviewed and changed.
This is a new Plan (also known as a Replacement Plan). This means it is not an alteration or update to previous Plans. This Plan will be the third London Plan, the previous ones being the 2004 Plan produced by former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone and the 2011 Plan produced by former Mayor of London Boris Johnson. All of the other iterations of the London Plan from 2004-2016 have been alterations. Once adopted this Plan will replace all previous versions.
This Plan is different to those that have gone before it. It is more ambitious and focused than any previous Plans. The concept of Good Growth – growth that is socially and economically inclusive and environmentally sustainable – underpins the Plan and ensures that it is focused on sustainable development.
The policies in the Plan have been developed over a number of months and are supported by a proportionate evidence base. In their development, the Mayor has had regard to the need to ensure consistency with national policies, but does not seek to repeat them. Instead the London Plan seeks to develop an approach tailored for London, and act as the key document shaping planning decisions across the capital. On some occasions, the Plan deviates from existing national policy and guidance; this is mainly where the Plan is delivering on a specific Mayoral commitment and reflects the particular circumstances of London. The scale of the Mayor’s election victory provides a significant political mandate to use the planning system to deliver his manifesto commitments.
The drafting of the Plan aims to ensure that London is ready to implement this ambitious Plan as soon as possible and that the policies do not take years to implement due to the time it can take to update local development plan documents. As the London Plan is part of every borough’s development plan, there is no requirement for the policies to be repeated at the local level before they can be implemented. However, in some instances a local approach is required within the context of the overall policy. The Plan clearly sets out where this is the case.
This Plan provides the framework to address the key planning issues facing London. This allows boroughs to spend time and resources on those issues that have a distinctly local dimension and on measures that will help deliver the growth London needs. This includes area-based frameworks, action plans and Supplementary Planning Documents, site allocations, brownfield registers and design codes.
The Mayor is legally required to keep the London Plan under review. The Key Performance Indicators set out in the final chapter of the Plan provide a basis for this ongoing review, allowing an assessment of the effectiveness of the Plan to be made over time. Alongside this, key assumptions which underpin the Plan will also be monitored, in particular population and household growth and employment growth.
 GLA Act 1999, section 339(1)
In October 2016, the Mayor published ‘A City for All Londoners’. This document set the tone for all of the Mayor’s strategies and the direction of travel for the Mayoralty. It discussed the high-level responses to the big challenges that London faces: the pressure that a fast-growing population exerts on the city; the increasing diversity of Londoners; rising inequality; the changing nature of the economy; the uncertainty caused by the EU referendum result; and the effects of climate change.
The document was put out to consultation and the feedback from it has helped shape all the Mayoral strategies. In addition, to inform the development of the London Plan, a number of workshops were held which provided an opportunity for a range of stakeholders to come together and discuss the challenges and opportunities the city faces.
A key part of reviewing the London Plan is undertaking a full Integrated Impact Assessment (IIA) and Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA). The IIA approach addresses the Mayor’s legal duties to carry out a comprehensive assessment of the Plan and its proposed policies with one integrated process. The IIA incorporates the statutory requirements of:
- Strategic Environmental Assessment
- Sustainability Appraisal
- Equalities Impact Assessment
- Health Impact Assessment
- Community Safety Impact Assessment
Chapters three to twelve cover topic-based policies and implementation:
- Chapter 3 Design
- Chapter 4 Housing
- Chapter 3Chapter 5 Social Infrastructure
- Chapter 6 Economy
- Chapter 7 Heritage and Culture
- Chapter 8 Green Infrastructure and Natural Environment
- Chapter 9 Sustainable Infrastructure
- Chapter 10 Transport
- Chapter 11 Funding the London Plan
- Chapter 12 Monitoring
Following the close of the consultation period, the next formal step will be the holding of the Examination in Public (EiP). This will be led by an independent panel, who will review the comments received during the consultation on the draft London Plan and will decide:
- which issues will be discussed at the EiP
- who will be invited to take part
The EiP is a hearing based around a detailed discussion of selected subjects covered by the new draft London Plan. It is likely to be held in the autumn of 2018. After it is completed, the Panel will produce a report recommending changes to the Plan for the Mayor’s consideration, which the Mayor can decide to accept or reject. Once the Mayor has decided which of the suggested changes he intends to accept, he will send a revised draft Plan to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. They then have six weeks to decide whether or not they wish to direct that any changes should be made. Assuming the Secretary of State decides not to make a direction, the Mayor is required to lay a copy of the draft proposals before the London Assembly, which has 21 days to decide whether to reject it in its entirety (rejection requires two thirds of those voting in favour). Provided the London Assembly does not decide to reject the Plan, the Mayor can then publish the London Plan.