In publishing "A City for all Londoners" the Mayor of London has reaffirmed many of his manifesto pledges (https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/cfal_oct_2016_fa_rev1.pdf). The document, known in GLA circles as "Towards a London Plan", acts as a prospectus for how to deliver the Mayor's pro-development vision for meeting London's ever growing housing, economic and infrastructure needs, while protecting the things that Londoners value and trying to meet as much of the city's growth demands within London itself.Herein lie some inherent tensions that will challenge City Hall to successfully balance. There are strong commitments to delivering development at higher densities, but the Mayor recognises the need for good quality design to overcome potential opposition from communities that may be resistant to change. He adopts the principle of "good growth" to avoid mistakes of the past.
Even though the launch of Towards only received a short column on page 6 of the Evening Standard, it should be seen as an opportunity to engage Londoners in what they would like their city to look like. Away from the conflict of an election, the prospectus provides the Mayor with a forum to stimulate debate about how to accommodate the projected growth.
It would be great if the communities that may be affected by development could get involved in planning at a strategic level, rather than feeling forced to object when projects reach the planning application stage. It is difficult for people to understand how London will look and function with an additional 50,000 new homes per annum until 2041 (a total of 1.25m new homes), but it would help if there could be agreement about the scale of the problem and the measures that are needed to address it.
London needs innovative solutions. These might include creating a dynamic Homes for Londoners organisation; collaborating with surrounding authorities to absorb part of the growth needs; an effective Build to Rent sector that can accelerate delivery of homes; or encouraging employers to take part in assisting their employees' in finding a home. Deloitte is leading the way in promoting initiatives that will help the Mayor achieve his vision, such as assisting its graduates find rental accommodation on the Olympic Park and supporting the Homes for Londoners programme.
Comments on A City for all Londoners should be made to the Mayor by 11th December.