Posted by: Adam Roake | August 23, 2010

LONDON HOUSING DESIGN GUIDANCE vs DRAFT SPG on HOUSING

I am unsure why the new Interim London Housing Design Guidance, published by the London Development Agency now an offshoot of the Mayor’s office, has been heavily trailed in BD, Planning etc but its much more important sister publication, the Mayor’s draft Supplementary Planning Guidance on Housing has been almost ignored. Firstly, the LHDG is tagged ‘Interim’ and the final version will not be published before a raft of other material including the Replacement London Plan and the draft Housing SPG from the Mayor’s office and also the HCA’s proposed new Core Housing Design and Sustainability Standards.  Secondly, the document itself is at pains to point out that it is not,

“…a statement of policy. Planning guidance for all housing tenures is contained in the draft Replacement London Plan and its draft Supplementary Planning Guidance on Housing“(p.9).

So it is not intended that the Interim LHDG be used in determining planning applications but its requirements will be invoked for land promoted for development by the LDA. It may also become in part the standards required by HCA, although the national standards framework, which is currently under review, will remain the core requirement “…supplemented by additional requirements, which bring these into alignment with the standards in the LHDG and Housing SPG“(p.10). It would seem that this guidance has no more than the status of Employer’s Requirements for schemes on LDA land and may also possibly be a supplementary requirement for access to the National Affordable Housing Programme funds. Developers and their architects will still have to demonstrate proposals comply with Local, London wide and national planning policy and additionally, contrary to what is claimed, they will now have to demonstrate compliance with the 58 ‘Priority 1’ guidance standards where they “…are supported by the LDA or on LDA land” (p.9). Frankly not much development in London need give this document a second thought, until the HCA decide what standards they are going to adopt in relation to housing grant or the Coalition government decide that the Mayor can overrule the HCA in London.

The draft SPG on Housing however is altogether a more significant document. It is currently only draft and “…intended primarily to inform discussion at the DRLP Examination in Public on how some of the proposed policies outlined in the DRLP are intended to be implemented” (p.4). It specifically states that it is not complete and that

“…a full version of the draft SPG will be published at the earliest opportunity following completion of the London Plan EiP. This will not fully replace existing Housing SPG until the Replacement Plan has been formally published, and full public consultation on the full draft SPG has been undertaken in accordance with the procedure set out for preparing London Plan supplementary guidance in Government Office for London Circular 1/2008” (p.5).

Its materiality in determining planning applications is therefore currently limited but it is likely to become increasingly important as the Replacement London Plan progresses towards adoption and the SPG itself is published for proper consultation and examination. In addition to housing quality and design, the limited scope of the Interim London Housing Design Guidance, the SPG includes guidance on housing supply, social infrastructure provision and mixed use development. The first of these chapters provides some particularly important guidance on housing targets, sources of capacity and density and a clear expression of how the mayor expects DRLP to be implemented. Whilst there are some changes of emphasis, for example some new ideas on restricting garden development, the targets arrived at by Boris under the previous Labour government are retained and there is a restatement that boroughs should demonstrate that they have a fifteen years supply of housing land to meet those targets, the first five of which can be accommodated on identified and deliverable sites.

It should not be ignored by boroughs outside London that the Mayor of London is continuing to ensure sufficient land is made available for housing development; it is inconceivable that central government will allow non-London local authorities simply to abandon housing targets.

It is also interesting to note that Building For Life Criteria are specifically referred to in the SPG and recommended by it as indicators of high quality design.  A properly produced assessment is surely now an essential for any proposal in London and anyone contemplating new development would now be well advised to take full account of this SPG.  This must be particularly true, if a planning appeal is likely to be required, since this SPG is likely to be well advanced by the time a public inquiry comes around and its materiality will be that much the greater.

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Responses

  1. […] does it leave Boris’s new proposed new housing standards for London homes (see this previous post)? Shapps went on to say that he is “…calling time on the cocktail of local building […]


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