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London Forum Updates

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Volume housebuilders blasted over design quality

Posted on: 23 January 2020 at 21:43:11
A study by the Bartlett School of Planning, University College London, and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) claims that three-quarters of new houses are either of ‘mediocre’ or ‘poor’ quality design.
Councils are rejecting poorly-designed housing schemes only to see them approved on appeal, "fatally" undermining the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), according to the study.
The conclusions of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission, when available soon, will be relevant.

Historic England contacts in London and South East

Posted on: 11 January 2020 at 18:04:08
There has been a lot of staff changes in the last few months in the London and South East department of Historic England.
The latest reponsibilities have been advised to London Forum, as follows.
Emily Gee – Regional Director: London and South East
Tom Foxall – Head of Region: London and South East (Development Advice)
David English – Development Advice Team Leader London (with a focus on statutory planning policy and strategic issues)
Michael (Mike) Dunn – Development Advice Team Leader London (with a focus on specific statutory development/listed building proposals)
Simon Buteux – Partnerships Team Leader London (with a focus on non-statutory work such as Heritage at Risk and High Streets Heritage Action Zones)
Sarah Gibson – Listing Team Leader London and South East
Rachael McMillan – Stakeholder Engagement Adviser London and South East
For the moment David English has suggested contacting him in the first instance at 020 7973 3700 and he will pass queries to the right person.
See Historic England's technical advice publications at

Historic England Planning Bulletin December 2019

Posted on: 20 December 2019 at 22:22:05
The latest HE bulletin is here.
It has an appendix giving links to Historic England's Good Practice Advice notes, many of which may be useful for London Forum's members in their liaison with their local Council on historic asset protection and development.

Queen's speech December 2019 and planning changes

Posted on: 20 December 2019 at 15:02:03
Best wishes for Christmas and for 2020 to all London Forum's members.
The Conservative Government has described its intended legislation and policies in the Queen's speech with a more detailed explanation here.
There will be a White Paper on revising the planning system and another one on social housing. Consultation will be held on a new type of 'First Homes' at 30% discounted prices, funded by developers.
The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has published new guidance on 'Assessing financial viability in planning'.
Changes have been made to Planning Practice Guidance, of which civic and community groups should be aware.
There are two reports, one covering

  • The housing needs of different groups of people;

  • Minimisation of planning conditions;

  • Estate regeneration;   and

  • Planning enforcement

The other report covers new planning guidance on light pollution.

Assembly seeks improvements in Mayor's call-in process

Posted on: 18 December 2019 at 21:02:59
The Assembly Planning Committee has published a letter to the Mayor on his ‘call-in’ powers for planning applications, recommending that he discourage the practice of applicants actively requesting call-ins, change the rules regarding site visits and hearings, engage communities and ensure that ‘called-in’ applications meet relevant criteria. The Mayor has been asked to respond by 7 February 2020.
Boroughs' intended decisions on many large planning developments have been almost entirely over-ruled by all Mayors since the GLA was created.
London Forum was invited to give evidence to the Assembly committee several months ago and will study the Mayor's response and liaise with the Assembly Members on the implications.

Heritage of London Trust Winter 2019/2020 newsletter

Posted on: 14 December 2019 at 16:11:44
The latest update by Heritage of London Trust (HOLT) on heritage repair and restoration schemes is here.
Their web site lists past HOLT projects in London boroughs and there are details given of their grants.

Response to consultation on Bakerloo Line extension

Posted on: 9 November 2019 at 23:30:25
London Forum's comments are here.

Response made to Environment Bill inquiry

Posted on: 9 November 2019 at 22:01:42
London Forum sent a response, as here, for the inquiry into the content of the Environment Bill.
More details are on the EFRA Committee's web site.

Approval for local development remains steady

Posted on: 2 November 2019 at 13:15:31
The majority of people (57%) are supportive of more homes being built in their local area, according to a new survey published by the government. Levels of support for new homes has remained the same over the last four years but has grown markedly since polling began in 2010, when approval was just 28%. Similarly, opposition to local development stood at a high of 46% in 2010 and for the last four years has remained at a much reduced 23%.  For more details, click here.
It will be important that boroughs approach the intensification of land use in outer London in a well planned and design led way, as the Government has proposed, so that communities are fully engaged and can be supportive. See the National design guidance.

Jenrick speech on heritage protection and home building

Posted on: 30 October 2019 at 22:44:30
A speech was given on these subjects in October 2019 by the Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.
It urged local communities to nominate heritage buildings for local listing which are important to them and for local authorities to consider the reuse of older buildings over demolition.
He spoke of the need for greater community involvement in shaping new homes.
The Queen's speech for the Conservative Government's intentions did not mention home building at all. On housing, the Minister said "Not, how many homes? Not, where do we build the homes? Or even, for whom are we building homes? But, what do those houses actually look like?"
The emphasis seems to be on housing design and beautiful architecture which is welcome. That does not address London's need for the right number and type of affordable homes in the right places. However, the Minister did speak of "building at scale, at pace and at low cost."
Every local authority will be asked to create local Design Guides based on a new National Design Guide, as below.

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