London Tenants' Federation (LTF) has spent the past few months focusing our attention on preparation for the Examination in Public (EiP) of the draft London Plan. The EiP took place from January to the end of May 2019.
The Plan is important to LTF because of the impact of the impact that the high levels of proposed development and growth will have on our communities over the coming 25 years. For example, the Plan includes borough and London-wide targets for the delivery of 65,000 additional homes each year over the next decade. But it sets woefully insufficient targets for desperately needed social-rented homes. Many of these new homes will be built in the London Plan's proposed 47 large scale development areas. These areas are described in the London Plan as 'opportunity areas', although many see them as simply providing opportunities for developers.
London Tenants' Federation was invited to engage in 19 sessions at the hearings. Our member representatives attended debates on consultation and engagement, 'good growth', housing need and supply, strategic and local regeneration, estate regeneration and fire safety. Our representatives challenged the Plan's draft policy and proposed alternatives where we saw the policy as having negative effects on low income households.
We also provided local and London-wide evidence in the form of written submissions prior to the hearings, and at the hearings themselves.
The graph below shows how much social rented housing would need to be delivered in London (i) to keep the high backlog of need for social rented homes at the same level it was in 2017 and (ii) to address the backlog of need for social rented homes in 25 years, and (iii) to address that need within a more reasonable 10 year period.
The Mayor's officers justified the Plan's low target for social rented homes by saying there is insufficient government funding. LTF agrees that more government money is needed to build more properties for social rent, but we also argue there is more the Mayor could do. This includes: setting higher targets for social rented homes and lower targets for 'intermediate homes'; ensuring that any funding for social housing is focused on delivering additional homes and not on replacing those that have been demolished in estate regeneration schemes, and challenging the boroughs that have failed over the years to deliver enough social rented homes to meet Londoners' needs.
Check out where your borough is in our table showing 'best to worst' percentage delivery of social rented homes in London from 2005/06-2016/17. Outer London boroughs are highlighted in blue.
It's difficult to measure the impact we may have had at the EiP, but we feel our attendance was important. A huge amount of what our representatives said is on public record and we have been able to use this material in press releases.
Early, minor changes were made to the draft new London Plan by the Mayor’s office just after consultation responses were submitted last year. Some reflect things LTF said in its response to consultation. The Mayor has made some further changes to the Plan throughout the duration of the hearings.
During discussions on strategic and local regeneration, planning inspectors highlighted that these were contentious issues and that the Greater London Authority (GLA) should reconsider the draft policy.
Before the EiP commenced, in a session at City Hall on the Mayor's evidence base for the plan, LTF and others, including the London Assembly Planning Committee and Christine Whitehead from the London School of Economics, also successfully challenged the Mayor's assessment for the need for family-sized social housing. As a result, the GLA produced a new table showing the need for family-sized social rented homes using data which includes existing levels of under-occupancy in social housing, in the same way they had assessed this in respect of market housing.
The planning inspectors' report is likely to be published in a couple of months, and may include some recommendations relating to the draft London Plan. We are putting together a full report on our involvement in the London Plan EiP, which we plan to publish later this summer.