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London Forum Updates

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Decline in heritage and conservation LPA resources


Posted on: 31 July 2014 at 16:01:53
English Heritage has reported here a continuation of a downward trend that began in 2006 which has seen numbers fall by over 32% in overall historic environment advice in local authorities. This breaks down into: 
• a drop of 26% in archaeological advice (including Historic Environment Records Officers), and
• a drop of 35% in conservation advice.
 
That is despite an increase in listed building planning applications.


Sources of development news updates


Posted on: 30 July 2014 at 20:19:16
London Forum tries to keep its members updated on all consultations, policy changes and matters that could affect development in their area. It is not possible with limited resources to cover all general news but two new sources of information could be valuable to members. They are two 'Place' networks for West London and East London that organise conference and networking events and publish development updates focussed on regeneration and economic development in London’s western and eastern boroughs.
You will find their reports here and here.
London Forum is considering using their RSS feeds to increase the information on its web site London News page here.


Offices converted to homes cause commercial shortages


Posted on: 30 July 2014 at 20:02:37
A report by RICS is here on the problems that have resulted from the policy of the ex-Planning Minister, Nick Boles, to allow conversion of offices to flats without planning permission.
 
There is now a shortage of commercial premises in the capital.


Mayor’s new plans to help high streets


Posted on: 30 July 2014 at 19:02:35
On Thursday 17 July 2014, the Mayor launched Learning from London’s High Streets and the Mayor’s Actions for High Streets, his new plans to help London’s town centre regeneration. These two reports form part of the Mayor’s long term vision for high streets alongside the Town Centres SPG.
 
He was visiting Bromley to see how ongoing improvements work was getting on.  Bromley is a major retail centre which hosts over 700 business and 20,000 jobs. So far, it has received £275,000 from round one and £2m from round two of the Mayor’s Outer London Fund for improvements. This has been matched by £1.5m from Bromley Council and £1.5m from TfL.
 
London Forum members could examine the documents with the links above and review with their borough what plans there are to improve high streets and their viability in their area.  The classification of town centres is contained in an extract from the draft Further Alterations to the London Plan here and the text in blue indicates changes.
 
The draft alterations to the London Plan for town centres are here. The amended policies and text are intended to support the implementation of the guidance and support of the Mayor.
 
There will be a London Forum open meeting on this subject on Tuesday 25th November to help members to understand the policy framework for town centres and to work with their borough on the regeneration of ones that are failing. Meanwhile, your feedback on local town centre issues and the use of the Mayor's guidance and policies on this subject would be welcomed to chairman@londonforum.org.uk 
 


New Minister for combined Planning & Housing brief


Posted on: 27 July 2014 at 21:09:18
Conservative MP for Great Yarmouth Brandon Lewis was appointed minister of state for housing and planning in a recent Government reshuffle, a promotion from his previous role as local government minister. 
The joint housing and planning brief makes sense in the run-up to the general election in which housing is set to be a key issue, according to commentators.
The Planning magazine reports that Stuart Ropke, assistant director of policy and research at umbrella body the National Housing Federation, said: "The planning system has a major role to play in increasing supply and it’s absolutely right these issues are in the same brief." 
A spokesman for the Home Builders Federation (HBF) said: "Bringing the two together makes sense if you think the biggest delay to delivering housing is the planning system."
One of Lewis’ highest priorities should be to take forward a proposal in the recent Queen’s speech that planning conditions should be assumed to be discharged if a local authority does not do so within a prescribed timeframe, according to the HBF.
The HBF claims that there are 150,000 plots with outline permission, but where building work has yet to start. "Unblocking this pipeline would be the biggest issue in Lewis’ inbox," the spokesman said.
Lewis’ previous brief also included ministerial responsibility for community pubs. He has led the government’s work on allowing communities to bid for local pubs to become Assets of Community Value.
Jonathan Mail, head of public affairs at the Campaign for Real Ale, said the group would be encouraging Lewis to take action to protect pubs further within the planning system, for example, by preventing the conversion of pubs to supermarkets.
Lewis has previously announced that the government would intervene in appeal cases involving Gypsy and traveller sites in the green belt and that it would review the definition of ‘travellers’ in planning policy.


The views of two ex-Leaders of London boroughs


Posted on: 27 July 2014 at 17:38:50
In the last year, Chris Roberts and Sir Merrick Cockell have stood down from their long-held roles at the helm of Greenwich and Kensington and Chelsea respectively. The former a Labour member from South East London, the latter a Conservative member from West London, both have a wealth of knowledge, insight and anecdotes. Evening Standard’s Pippa Crerar picked their brains for lessons learnt, experiences past and views developed in their 13 years as leaders and for their thoughts on the challenges London will face in the future. It is all here for you to read.


McAslan's Smithfield plans kicked out by Pickles


Posted on: 8 July 2014 at 10:44:49
Building Design online has reported as follows:-
8 July 2014 | By Elizabeth Hopkirk Communities secretary accuses City Corporation of ‘deliberate neglect’ over buildings’ condition
The Communities Secretary has rejected John McAslan & Partners’ £160 million proposal to fill Smithfield Market in London with shops and offices and accused the buildings’ owners of not looking after them properly.
Eric Pickles made the shock announcement today following a public inquiry into the scheme which was developed by Henderson Global Investors.
In a strongly worded statement, he singled out the City of London Corporation, who own the buildings, for criticism.
“The deteriorated state of the buildings is, at least in part, the result of the history of deliberate neglect and that, in assessing the planning balance, less weight should therefore be given to the current condition of the buildings and the consequent benefit of their repair,” he said.
The decision was hailed as a major victory by Save and the Victorian Society who fought the proposal, arguing that it would do too much damage to the historic fabric of Horace Jones’ market buildings in Farringdon.
Together with Cathedral Group and market entrepreneur Eric Reynolds they argued there was a viable alternative which could bring the crumbling buildings back into use as a market ready to take advantage of the arrival of Crossrail.
It is one of the highest-profile schemes rejected by Pickles who waved through Squire & Partners’ Shell Centre plans and David Chipperfield’s Elizabeth House, drawing criticism from conservationists.
Pickles said the buildings involved in the Smithfield scheme, while not listed, were “heritage assets which contributed strongly to the distinctive character of the Smithfield Conservation Area”.


South East Councils will have to supply homes for London


Posted on: 30 June 2014 at 12:32:12
South East Councils could each need to supply up to 5,000 additional homes as a result of London's un-met housing need, according to consultants Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners (NLP) in a report they have published. They say the Further Alterations to the London Plan leave it unsound.


London Green Spaces Friends Groups Network update


Posted on: 29 June 2014 at 16:50:36
An update from the LGSFGN for June 2014 is here.


Government plans for roads and land sell-off


Posted on: 26 June 2014 at 20:47:58
In the Guardian, George Monbiot draws attention to several things in the Infrastructure Bill that are of concern. His article is here.
 
The Open Spaces Society has warned also of the danger of loss of open space. See here.

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