RSA Research Network 21 September 2012 The impact of the localism agenda on strategic planning in London Duncan Bowie University of Westminster London as a case study • Mayor of London as the sole remaining Strategic Planning Authority in England • Can strategic planning in London survive the challenges of the localist agenda ? • Case study focuses on housing targets and housing delivery The London Metropolitan Region The Context • The Localism Act • The National Planning Policy Framework • Boris Johnson’s London Plan • Further planning deregulation • Further relaxation of London Plan affordable housing targets The combatants Mayor of London’s powers • Mayor is the plan-making authority – new London Plan published by Boris Johnson in July 2011 (revised the Livingstone 2004 London Plan) • Mayor has power to intervene in strategic planning applications – negative and positive powers • Mayor now has control of affordable housing investment programme (previously held by central government controlled Housing Corporation/ Homes and Communities Agency) effective from April 2012 • Mayor has significant land holdings ( Transport for London land and land held by former London Development Agency) but not all suitable for housing Policies in the 2004 and 2008 Livingstone London Plan • Net completions target was 23,000 per annum in 2004, raised to 30,500 per annum in 2008 (based on housing capacity study). Targets set at borough level • 50% of new homes to be affordable – 11,500 in 2004 plan; 15,250 in 2008 Plan • 70% of affordable homes to be social rent ; 30 to be sub market rented and shared ownership –intermediate housing ) • All provision to lifetime homes mobility standard; 10% wheelchair standard • Density based on Sustainable Residential Quality 2011 London Plan housing policies • Net completions target is 32,210 homes pa (based on housing capacity study). Targets set at borough level • Policy is 13,200 new homes to be affordable ( 40% of total) • 60% of affordable homes to be social rent 40% to be sub market rented and shared ownership –intermediate housing ) • Density as accessibility policies as before • Minimum space standards for all new homes Why strategic planning is important in London • Shortage of development sites relative to identified need – so important to use capacity effectively • Land capacity is not in the same areas as housing need • If all boroughs do not contribute new supply, housing pressures in stress areas become more acute • Local decisions will increase social polarisation • London cannot be divided up into self contained housing market areas Existing Tenure Polarisation House prices by local area (2008) Spatial distribution of deprivation Housing Capacity by Borough Housing output by borough 2010/11 Housing as % London Plan target 2010/11 Density on new sites Mismatch between need and supply • Social rent output only half of requirement • Most new homes were small homes – less than 30% of new social rented homes were 3 or more homes, compared with 40% requirement • Less than 15% of new market homes had three or more bedrooms • 90% of new homes were flats not houses • Increasing proportion of new homes were in blocks over 10 stories – over 100 tower blocks in development pipeline The Coalition Government’s Approach • Abolish national and regional housing targets • Let each local council decide how much housing and affordable housing is built in their area • Introduce incentives to local authorities (and neighbourhoods) • But double devolution shifting power from councils to neighbourhoods • Abolishing government grant for social rented housing/ Grant for sub market rented homes only – flexibility on security of tenure • Self financing of Housing Revenue Accounts The NPPF • LPAs should identify land to meet identified needs • Cooperate with other LPAs • Guidance on sub-regional housing land capacity studies SHLAAs and housing market assessments to remain BUT • Lack of clarity as to how targets be determined across a subregion Core strategies • Should allocate sites to meet assessed need • But no requirement on LPA to set an affordable housing target • No requirement to set separate targets for social rent/ affordable rent/ intermediate housing/ market housing Neighbourhood Plans • Ministers say should be in ‘general conformity’ with core strategy • Cannot provide less development than core strategy requires but can provide more • No clear definition of strategic matters for general conformity test The key issue • Unless core strategy sets neighbourhood targets, how can conformity be tested ? • Can neighbourhood plans amend core strategy site allocations • If YES, how is core strategy implemented • If NO, what is the point of a neighbourhood plan ? • The confusion grows CLG 13th October 2011 leaflet The London Plan Examination in Public– Summer 2010 • Coalition Govt withdrew John Healey’s objections to Johnson deleting Livingstone’s 50% target • Ministerial statement that with no Government targets for London, it was for Mayor to decide what targets to include • Borough planning officers argued proposed borough housing targets not consistent with new localism • The Mayor’s response: “As CLG’s statement made clear, the Coalition Government has provided the flexibility to move away from dependence on targets to meet these needs. However, coupled with other policies rather than as an end in themselves, targets are a valuable part of the Mayor’s armoury to exercise his strategic housing responsibilities and address need in a city as large and complex as London. That does not mean that he necessarily considers the current methodology for developing the targets to be the most effective way forward for the future – it reflects the historic ‘top down’ national guidance which in several instances constrained boroughs and the GLA from taking proper account of London’s unique circumstances. The Mayor intends to work with boroughs and other stakeholders to develop a more effective, responsive methodology, which will respect these distinct circumstances and support a new target better fitted to help London tackle its housing needs and which will be brought forward as an early alteration to the London Plan.” The EiP Panel on Localism “we do not see it as any part of our role to enter into a philosophical debate on the nature of localism. Rather, having regard to the statutory duties and responsibilities of the Mayor, throughout the Examination we facilitated debate over the necessity or otherwise of particular standards and targets whether as mandatory policy or guidance both as matters of principle and of specific detail. With very limited exceptions we endorse the position taken by the Mayor over the strategic justification for inclusion of such matters or their non-inclusion having had the concept of localism very much in the forefront of our deliberations” Panel response • Supported borough targets based on Londonwide housing capacity study • Agreed boroughs should be bound by Londonwide density ranges relating to Sustainable Residential Quality principles • BUT supported Mayor dropping 50% affordable housing target • Supported Mayor changing social rent: intermediate ratio contrary to evidence in Mayor’s hosing market assessment • Agreed that boroughs had flexibility on setting own affordable housing targets • Welcomed proposal for more locally based housing targets Locally sensitive housing targets ? • Retain consistent approach to density and site capacity ? • Increase LPA ability to veto exclusion of sites- remove justification requirement ? • Do LPAs need neighbourhood consent for site allocations, capacity and mix assumptions ? • Yet in London, neighbourhood plans also need to be in conformity with London Plan as it is part of each borough’s Development Framework under 2004 Act – so Mayor will check each neighbourhood plan. The reality of neighbourhoods • Localism is not a panacea and can be dangerous • London is not am aggregate of local neighbourhoods – a City of villages • As a global city, much of London’s population is transient – both voluntary and enforced – some neighbourhoods can have annual population turnover of 50% • Who are neighbourhoods planning forthe 21 residents who write the plan all existing residents the residents children and grand children people who may want to lve in the area Responsible Localism • Evidence base • Impact assessment • The opportunity costs of not developing • Will neighbourhood plans reflect economic and social requirements as well as environmental ones ? Civic leadership • A sense of place • A sense of accountability • A sense of public interest and purpose The Nick Boles chaos theory • 1,000 flowers blooming or wilting ? • A belief in altruism is not enough • Planning is mediating between conflicting interests – all planning decisions are ‘political’ in terms of producing benefits and dis-benefits • Spatial equality still matters • A system of neighbourhood planning with no checks and balances is not ‘fit for purpose’ unless the purpose is chaos • Nick Boles is now planning Minister • Further deregulation and even more localism ? • Is this the end of strategic spatial planning ? The Limits of Localism • Localism not delivering national housing targets • The return of central intervention • Poorly performing planning authorities – decisions to be transferred to Planning Inspectorate • Planning Inspectorate to over-ride s106 agreements Localism and the London Mayor • Revising housing capacity targets – localism and regional consistency • Maximising numerical output – relaxing requirements to provide range of homes • Stopping councils prioritising social rent rather than other sub-market provision Localism and Metropolitan Regional Governance • Localism as a diversion and obstacle • Strategic planning beyond the London boundary • London’s growth and the contribution of the wider metropolitan region • Need for a metropolitan regional authority with powers of direction ?