The London Plan July 2019
The London Plan, The Spatial Development Strategy for London consolidated with alterations since 2011. Mayor of London. Published by the Greater London Authority. March 2016. Version updated January 2017. 441pp. Draft London Plan – ‘consolidated changes version’ July 2019 571pp and ‘clean version’ July 2019 455pp.
The emerging London Plan now exists as two versions ‘consolidated’ and ‘clean’ (both July 2019) whilst discussions and debate continue. There are three relevant wildlife and countryside sections, a new Biodiversity policy (7.19 Biodiversity and Access to Nature), and a new policy on ‘Protecting Open Space and Addressing Deficiency’ (7.18) and a Policy 2.18 on ‘Green Infrastructure: the multi-functional network of green and open spaces.’
Biodiversity, enhancements and ecological gains are embodied in para 7.19, as per ‘The Mayor will work with all relevant partners to ensure a proactive approach to the protection, enhancement, creation, promotion and management of biodiversity in support of the Mayor’s Biodiversity Strategy. This means planning for nature from the beginning of the development process and taking opportunities for positive gains for nature through the layout, design and materials of development proposals and appropriate biodiversity action plans.’ Gains are again emphasised in para 5.7.4 as ‘Development proposals should manage impacts on biodiversity and aim to secure net biodiversity gain.’
The London Plan is not firm on seeking ecological gains. Under ‘Policy GG2 Making the best us of land’ is says ‘aiming to secure net biodiversity gains where possible.’ Ecological gains go hand in hand with ecological calculators that some LPAs are now insisting on, so it is a surprise that calculators are not mentioned in the Plan.
Other useful matters include: para 5.7.4 ‘When making new provision, boroughs are encouraged to take into account the Mayor’s broader aims for green infrastructure and the natural environment, including, but not limited to, the creation of new parks and open spaces, the enhancement of existing open spaces and natural environments, and the provision of enhanced links to London’s green infrastructure.’ ……. ‘Amenity provision and environmental enhancements should be encouraged.’
‘Development proposals should manage impacts on biodiversity and aim to secure net biodiversity gain. This should be, and be informed by the best available ecological information Biodiversity enhancement should be considered and addressed from the start of the development process.’
It is good that the London Plan continues to seek protection or UK designated, and EU protected sites, as per ‘protect and enhance London’s open spaces, including the Green Belt, Metropolitan Open Land, designated nature conservation sites and local spaces, and promote the creation of new green infrastructure and urban greening, including aiming to secure net biodiversity gains where possible. ‘Any proposals promoted or brought forward by the London Plan will not adversely affect the integrity of any European site of nature conservation importance.’