Next London Plan to protect the capital’s workspaces

Thursday 13 October 2016

The next London Plan will include greater protection for the capital’s workspaces against major threats including permitted development rights. That was according to Deputy Mayor for Regeneration, Planning and Skills Jules Pipe last night as he launched NLA’s new insight study, exhibition, and programme of events on the fast changing world of work, WRK/LDN.

‘London has just got to retain its capacity for businesses to start, to grow, to innovate’ said Pipe. ‘The very nature of workspace may change over time but ensuring its continued presence is more important than ever’.

Affordable and appropriate places of work are ‘absolutely essential’ if London can sustain its economy, said Pipe, but London has lost 50% of its industrial land in the central London boroughs since 2001, eight times what was planned for in the last London Plan. ‘That’s a critical issue for servicing London and supporting the wider economy of the rest of the country.’

The GLA is looking at providing new industrial areas around the M25 to help on this, but another key threat was permitted development rights, which have led to a loss of business space and creation of ‘unaffordable luxury housing’ or poor quality residential space, and not just in central London. Places like Richmond stand to lose 30% of its office space. ‘So going forward the mayor is going to seek to prevent that kind of loss of workspace by pushing government to change their direction on this, and also encouraging local authorities to do whatever they can within tight constraints they’re working in to stop the excessive number of conversions.’ The next London Plan will need to include stronger protection for small business premises and to promote the inclusion of start-up premises in new housing and mixed use developments, particularly in creative industries such as fashion that need space for making and prototyping.  

The new London Plan is on a timetable for a draft available this time next year, with a final plan adopted towards the end of 2019. But before then, supplementary planning guidance will be issued, including one on housing, which will offer help on negotiations for affordable housing, and another on the night time economy. In the next few weeks, added Pipe, the GLA will produce a ‘direction of travel’ document, which will cover the ‘whole span of the manifesto’ and start a conversation with interested sectors and London in general. But it was important London ‘remains positive’ in terms of Brexit, said Pipe, and that London was open for business as the ‘world’s most successful capital.’

Pipe added that the WRK/LDN show was an incredibly timely demonstration of the breadth of London’s places of work and their changing nature.

NLA chairman Peter Murray said: ‘Availability, affordability, quality and location of workspace will be critical for established businesses as well as start ups’, reflecting on the inspirations for the show and events programme, which include a resurgence of interest in making, change in manufacturing in London and artisanal products, and the rise in the digital economy.

David Taylor, Editor, New London Quarterly

WRK / LDN examines the future workspace requirements of London’s commercial, enterprise and industrial sectors. Creating a new pop-up working space in the heart of Bloomsbury, this exhibition discusses the issues facing London workers, highlights the future areas for growth across the capital, showcases current exemplar schemes and gives key recommendations for how we should approach securing the future of London’s economy.

The exhibition is part of an NLA insight study programme, supported by a three-month series of events.


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