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What powers does the Mayor have for planning applications?

The Mayor is consulted on all planning applications that are of potential strategic importance (PSI) to London. These are commonly known as ‘referred’ applications. 

What makes an application referable?

An application is referable to the Mayor if it meets the criteria set out in the Mayor of London Order (2008). The criteria includes:

  • development of 150 residential units or more
  • development over 30 metres in height (outside the City of London)
  • development on Green Belt or Metropolitan Open Land

Please see the order for the full criteria. If you wish to view maps of the central London area and Thames Policy Area that are mentioned in the order, they can be downloaded on the below links.

In addition, the Secretary of State has separately required that the Mayor is consulted by local planning authorities on two types of development. More details on these can be found in the safeguarded wharves directions page.

The Mayor does not have any powers to comment or intervene on any proposal that does not meet the criteria set out within the order, including household applications. These proposals are the responsibility of the local planning authority. 

What is the process for a referable application?

All planning applications are submitted to the relevant local planning authorities within London – these are:

  • 32 borough councils
  • City Corporation
  • London Legacy Development Corporation
  • Old Oak & Park Royal Development Corporation

Once an application has been submitted, and if it meets the Mayor of London Order, the local planning authority is required to refer it to the Mayor. The Mayor has six weeks to provide comments on the application, assessing whether it complies with the London Plan policies. This is a consultation response known as stage one.

The application is then considered by the local planning authority at its planning committee, where it decides whether to grant or refuse permission.

Following its consideration, the local planning authority is then required to refer the application to the Mayor for his final decision, known as a Stage 2 referral. The Mayor has 14 days to make a decision to allow the local planning authority decision to stand, to direct refusal, or to take over the application, thus becoming the local planning authority. More details on these powers can be found below. 

How do I view or comment on an application?

All of the applications that have been referred to the Mayor can be found on the planning applications search page.

If you wish to comment on a referable planning application, please send your comments to the relevant local planning authority in the first instance. The Mayor receives all comments received by the local planning authority as a part of the referral process,  meaning your comments will be considered by both the local council and the Mayor as a part of the decision making process. You can find the relevant borough website on borough webpages.

As set out above, the Mayor does not have any powers to comment or intervene on applications that do not meet the criteria set out in the order. In these instances please send your comments to the local planning authority or see for more information. Should you have any concerns about the decision making of the council, you can contact the Local Government Ombudsman ( Should you wish to appeal any planning decision, you can contact the Planning Inspectorate (

Allowing the local planning authority to determine the case

In making his Stage 2 decision, the Mayor may be content to allow the local planning authority to determine the case itself, subject to any action that the Secretary of State may take. In such an instance he would therefore not wish to direct refusal or direct to become the local planning authority. 

Mayor’s power to direct refusal

Under article 6 of the Mayor of London Order (2008), the Mayor has the power to direct refusal on an application that has been referred to him. All of the applications where the Mayor has directed refusal can be found on the direction to refuse applications page. 

Direction that the Mayor is to be the local planning authority

Under article 7 of the Mayor of London Order (2008), the Mayor has the power to direct that he will become the local planning authority for an application. These are commonly referred to as ‘call-ins’, ‘public hearings’, 'representation hearings' and ‘Stage 3s’.

To be able to take over an application it would have to meet the following three policy tests; as set out in the order:

  • the development would have a significant impact on the implementation of the London Plan
  • the development would have significant effects that are likely to affect more than one London borough
  • there are sound planning reasons for intervention.

Please refer to the order for a definitive explanation of the policy tests.

For more information or to see the applications that the Mayor has called in see our website on the public hearings page

Planning Code of Conduct and protocols

We have produced documentation to guide how our employees deal with planning matters, and to set the standard of conduct which other parties can expect of them. These are:

  • the Planning Code of Conduct, for elected and co-opted members of the Greater London Authority (GLA)
  • planning protocols, for staff with delegated authority and all other staff

The code is in addition to the GLA Code Conduct (see standards of behaviour for more information).

The code and protocols have been produced having regard to current best practice and guidance from government, Local Government Association and Standards for England. They can be found on the links below.

Planning Protocol for staff exercising Mayoral delegated authority

General Planning Protocol for staff


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