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London Plan adoption tops New Year wish list for senior team at Turley

A commercially ambitious London plan is top of the New Year wish list for the latest additions to our top team in London.

The Examination in Public for the draft London Plan will open on the 15th of January next year. In the context of an uncertain national environment and mayoral elections in 2020, its adoption will be key to ensuring investment in key market areas is maintained.

Speaking about the importance of the London Plan, our new head of planning Ben Wrighton said:

“The inherent potential of London’s centres will be critical to growth, whilst also being some of the hardest development nuts to crack. Structural change in the retailing sector means that opportunities to recast the centres of our communities will be wide-ranging.  The regeneration of the built environment in our centres will rely on a far greater mix of uses, including dedicated support from the public sector as both facilitators of growth and occupiers of new accommodation and infrastructure.

“To enable this, we need to see a London Plan that allows defined central cores to retract to allow other uses, such as residential, to breathe new life into communities, rather than being too rigid in protecting secondary shopping frontages in particular.”

Alex Christopher, who joined us in December as a director, said that top of his wish list was for the London Plan to deliver a clear policy framework to optimise housing delivery within the outer London boroughs.

He said: “Many of the outer London boroughs have seen a significant increase in their housing numbers within the draft London Plan. In the absence of a clear and concise policy framework on how councils should seek to optimise development density beyond the existing character and context in suitable areas, there is a risk that emerging higher-density schemes could be stifled at a local level where there is a perceived lack of technical justification to overcome pressure to keep the status quo.

“In tandem with this, the draft Plan has added further policy weight to tall buildings being developed only in sustainable locations identified in development plans. It will be essential that councils undertake an ambitious yet balanced assessment on suitable tall-building locations within their development plans in a timely fashion. Otherwise, there is danger that the Plan could result in unnecessary restrictions on high-density developments, seeing them limited to a small number of areas in boroughs, an outcome that would fail to harness the opportunity to optimise housing delivery.”

Speaking about what she would like to see in 2019, Catriona Fraser, who also joined us as an associate director in December said:

“The recognition of alternative forms of housing, such as student accommodation and specialist-older-persons’ housing through specific policies in the draft London Plan, is a positive move that  should encourage developers and investors to move in the direction of delivering a balanced mix of housing in London. 

“Whilst the recognition of retirement living is welcomed, given that the current development pipeline is far behind the rest of the South East, emerging policy must be careful not to treat the viability of these homes (including extra care) as the same as conventional housing. The unrestricted requirement for affordable housing contribution within such investments could potentially detract many investors who are currently looking to invest within London.”

All three new recruits help expand on our senior expertise in London, where we are seeing increasing demand for our full-service offering, which includes planning, design, economics, heritage, strategic communications and sustainability expertise.

14 January 2019

Alex Christopher, Ben Wrighton, Catriona Fraser

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