… and London Plan research gaps

At past inquiries we have often been told that the plan is “evidence based” and wished we had “evidence” with which to challenge it. The planning team has told us (in a Just Space meeting) that now is the time to tell them if we think the research they are doing is the wrong research. So we have made a submission and it’s here as the rest of this post

Submitted to the Mayor in response to consultation on the first stages of the London Plan Review by
Michael Edwards (KXRLG and at UCL)
Richard Lee (Just Space, where a draft was discussed)
David Fell (Brook Lyndhurst)
and with wide support from many individual and group stakeholders.
30 June 2009

Priorities: are the paras in bold here.

Many stakeholders have taken part in discussions on this list and it is being submitted now along with proposals that
(i) we greatly value openness about what research is being done, or commissioned, by the LP team and cognate bodies;
(ii) we also greatly value seminars and other opportunities to discuss research while it is at formative stages, and midstream and when it reports and we hope that the Team will nultiply such opportunities. We could eaborate on this list upon request.

1. Alternative scenarios, a most welcome innovation foreseen in the pre-plan document, should include, as possible contexts,
• a very long and serious recession as one scenario, and
• accelerating urgency of global warming as another scenario.

2. There should be linked forecasts in place of (or alongside) stand-alone projections, for example to explore how economic growth affects population growth and travel, how infrastructure capacity can constrain job growth and so on. Some of the discussions in earlier EIPs were hamstrung by the absence of any preparation on these links.

3. There should be a strengthening of cross-border analysis, at the edge of Greater London, perhaps on a sub-region corridor basis, with an emphasis on commuting, housing, shopping, food production, resources and waste disposal.

4. To recognise the value of local evidence on the ground and to invite evidence from the voluntary and community sector as well as the public and private sectors.

5. A collaborative approach to the analysis of the data, and a sharing of consultants’ drafts and reports with key stakeholders, through documents and seminars.

Substantive issues
Climate Change, economic recovery, poverty-reduction
6. What options are available to achieve the imperative of integrating Climate Change into each chapter of the London Plan?

in more detail:
7. Starting from the fixed target of a 60% reduction in CO2, to research what part the London Plan can play in creating a low carbon London economy. This would partly be a matter of linking (and avoiding duplication among) studies in the Plan Team, the Assembly and other members of the GLA family of bodies.

8. Focussed research on everything that contributes to reducing the need to travel,
• especially meeting more needs closer to home,
• focussing attention on the bottom of the town centres hierarchy (including corner shops, post offices, surgeries etc) rather than the top,
• including self-employment and working from home,
• facilitating productivity growth and greening in these activities and
• facilitating shortening of car trips and switching to walking and cycling.

9. To assess the ability of the component parts of the economy (quite finely divided) to contribute to a green London economy, to economic recovery and to the reduction of poverty, including
• local sourcing of food
• contribution to CO2 reduction and air quality improvement
• academic institutions and a green knowledge economy
• the number of new green collar jobs in utilities
• low carbon retailing
• business services geared towards a green economy
linked with…
10. London Plans to date have defined economic development narrowly and more weight needs to be given, through the evidence base and policies, to a diverse economy, analysed in much finer sectoral divisions than hitherto. The team is urged (with the economic agencies),
– To analyse what role the London Plan can play in bridging the poverty gap by improving the viability, skills, productivity and pay in the low wage sectors (retail, catering, cleaning, personal care, repair and maintenance) which are at least half of the jobs in London.

– To research what a Spatial Development Strategy can do to meet the needs of SME’s, social enterprises and home workers

11. Lifetime neighbourhoods
a) To analyse the impact of current London Plan policies on social infrastructure and amenities of all kinds (eg green space, play areas, community meeting places, local shops) and to identify planning policies which will be effective in protecting and enhancing these essential components of sustainable communities.

b) To develop a local needs index of the shops, social and community facilities and open spaces which need to be accessible to everyone within easy walking distance.

c) Develop a matrix for lifetime neighbourhoods which local stakeholders can use to assess how well a neighbourhood scores for services being available nearby and within walking distance. As well as being a suitable tool for assessing district centres, the matrix must also assess local centres and non-centre services both of which tend to be discriminated against under current policies.

A concern with this micro-availability of services is of strategic importance because of the cumulative effects on energy use and fairness. It is for the boroughs to decide how to plan but strategic policy should guide them.

12. Housing
a) To research what has been the impact of the current housing model/ current housing policies in the London Plan on the quality of life of the existing residential communities in and near the Opportunity Areas, identifying the types of agencies / firms which have been most and least effective in meeting plan objectives.

b) To assess the ability of different house building models to deliver the amount of affordable housing required to meet future need and the backlog of need, and the ability of the model to prevent the displacement and dispersal of existing communities.

13. Value added, values and well-being: to explore the potentialities of the recent research on the measurement of ‘well-being’ as an alternative or complement to the conventional plan objective of maximising conventional ‘value added’.

14. Implementation problems
Given the new Mayor’s interest in a slimmer London Plan and in boroughs having more autonomy, there is a pressing need to explore ways in which the London Plan could set criteria which focus on what are truly the key issues. This would mean getting away from the old idea that only projects which are very large or tall are of ‘strategic’ importance. Thus, for example, London Plan policies may be needed to maintain and improve local services within walking distances or to regulate the growth of small commercial premises in relation to transport/accessibility. One model could be the density matrix which has evolved through the existing London Plan and concisely regulates residential construction, with wide discretionary ranges for Boroughs and developers, while being self-adjusting as infrastructure and transport services change.

Michael Edwards (KXRLG and at UCL)
Richard Lee (Just Space)
David Fell
and with wide support from many individual and group stakeholders.
30 June 2009

Author: Editors


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