High density housing – an explanation

Last week we invited anyone who understood the debate about potential quadrupling of housing density in Wanstead to clarify what was going on. Wansteadium readers Reny Morsh writes:

Sorry for the delay of the comment for your article on the high density plan explanation. Maybe I can shed some light on this. I hope I’m correct here but the newspaper article sounds distinctly like a discussion of the Greater London Authorities further amendments to the London Plan (FALP) rather than a planning application per se.

The FALP sets the revised Mayor’s housing targets for London boroughs, these are is aimed at dramatically increasing residential growth around town centres and transport hubs. Not in itself necessarily a problem you might think (or maybe you would) until you realise that the baseline data is effectively a list of London’s town centres compiled by borough, and which were drawn up to identify local shopping areas and to help identify their health and promote policies relevant to this, not housing targets.

In many cases the boundaries of town centres are tightly drawn around small compact and often small historic town or village centres. There are some blatent anomalies in the list including Leadenhall Market an entirely listed Victorian shopping centre in the City of London and arguably small local high streets such as Wanstead and South Woodford which offer little opportunity for significant housing growth. Areas such as Carshalton have also been identified. Many of the bigger areas identified could arguably cope with growth in the vicinity of the retail centres but not necessarily actually within the identified centre which is what the policy focuses on.

Of course this does not mean that this level of growth will be delivered in these places – they are targets, and other policy considerations such as conservation areas, metropolitan open land etc. still apply. Nevertheless if local authorities fail to meet these targets they will no doubt be targeted by the GLA who may call in housing applications for determination by the Mayor.

The FALP is currently out to examiniation by the Inspectorate and hopefully its shortcomings will be identified, however you can never rely on this and councils should be looking closely at this and should be providing a robust response. The London Plan is actually due for a major review pretty shortly so the current amendments seem particularly short-sighted and based on faulty information. Yes London does have housing problems but there are better ways of identifying where housing can be accommodated than a list developed for a different purpose.

Here’s a link for anybody who is brave enough to delve deeply into this.

Best regards,

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