Gove intervenes further in London Plan

Last week, in a letter to Sadiq Khan, Michael Gove warned that Government would be further intervening in the London Plan and directed the Mayor to conduct a partial review of the Plan after concerns that the current Plan was hindering the delivery of new homes across the capital.

Gove pointed out that the London Plan is “holding back” house-building and further measures are required to deliver the capital’s housing needs, stating “Londoners are being let down by the Mayor’s chronic under delivery of new homes in the capital”.

Gove has asked the Mayor to review two key areas:

  • Industrial Land – There is around 6,800 hectares of industrial land currently utilised within the capital. Among this, approximately 736 hectares, equivalent to 900 football pitches, have the potential to be repurposed for housing developments, but are stuck in planning.
  • Opportunity Areas – There are 47 areas across London that have previously been identified to provide around 2,500 new homes and 5,000 new jobs, but have seen minimal progress. The Government has directed the Mayor to review the list, and review policies in the London Plan that might constrain the capacity of housing delivery, and asked the Mayor to consider a single planning framework.

In what appears to be an on-going battle between the two politicians, Sadiq Khan, who is preparing for the Mayoral Elections in May, responded to Gove, and pledged to unleash the “greatest council homebuilding drive in generation” and “complete 40,000 new homes by 2030” – double of his target last year.

Khan’s campaign emphasis on housing recognises the challenge faced in the city, where over 300,000 households are awaiting social housing, and homelessness has increased by 50% in the last decade.

If Khan secures re-election in May, he will become the first person to win three mayoral terms since the directly elected role was created in 2000.

As the mayoral election looms, the timing of this intervention by Michael Gove raises eyebrows, and his actions are likely aimed at undermining Khan’s campaign for re-election. In asking the Mayor to review industrial land and opportunity areas the Secretary of State is seeking to reinforce the ‘urban uplift’ message which is the current Conservative mantra.

Author: Melisa Geshteja

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