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Sadiq's Sustainable City

The new London Plan has a strong focus on developing a more sustainable economy.

The Mayor has put his own mark on the sustainability priorities and policies of the Plan by tackling some of the key issues he set out in his election campaign and articulated in the Draft London Environment Strategy, which had the clear ambition for London to be ‘The world’s greenest global city’.

Air Quality

Firstly, as expected there is a big focus on improving air quality. Policy has shifted, with all development now expected to be at least ‘air quality neutral’ and for large-scale redevelopment areas, such as Opportunity Areas and those subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to adopt an ‘air quality positive’ approach.  


The zero-carbon target already in place for major residential applications will, as expected, be extended to major commercial schemes by 2019. There is an expectation that a given percentage of regulated emissions will be delivered via energy efficiency measures on site, and in addition to being able to offset the remaining emissions by payment into a local offset fund, applicants will now be able to make up any shortfall in delivery on-site with alternative off-site arrangements. Construction emissions now also appear to be included within the zero-carbon definition, which could have significant implications depending on how this is implemented; details are currently vague.

It would also appear likely that we will see a marked reduction in the deployment of new gas fired Combined Heat and Power; once at the top of the heating hierarchy, it is now almost at the bottom of a much longer list, with a clear preference for technologies that avoid local emissions that impact on air quality.

The requirement to comprehensively monitor energy demand and carbon emissions to ensure that planning commitments are being delivered is an opportunity to develop a valuable dataset of as-built performance across different building types, sectors and tenures. However, this isn’t as straightforward as it sounds and a lot more thought will need to go into this policy if it is going to achieve this.

Urban Greening

Urban greening as a concept has been upgraded, providing a mechanism to introduce greater climate change resilience and improve air quality. All major development is now required to include urban greening as a fundamental element of design, but more specifically, the Mayor wants Boroughs to develop an Urban Greening Factor (UGF) to identify a quantum of urban greening required in new development. This might prove to be one of the most challenging policies, with the delivery of significant on-site green space in many cases contrary to expectations of densification.

Waste & the Circular Economy

The Waste Hierarchy has been replaced by the Circular Economy Hierarchy and Site Waste Management Plans are out in favour of Circular Economy statements. With a lot of confusion out there as to what the circular economy actually is, this could just be a name change, but more detail will follow.

If you would like to discuss the sustainability implications of the new London Plan in further detail, please contact Rebecca Beeson or Colin Morrison.

16 January 2018

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