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Robert Jenrick announced on Radio 4 this morning that local plans that lay out where massive growth will happen across the country must conform with the National Planning Policy Framework and the law
Jenrick also admitted that when an area has been designated as a growth area in a plan, communities will have no say about the scale of development that happens in that area
But what if a higher level plan that lays the legal framework for local plans, and with which they must conform, is itself not lawful?
By default, Jenrick is saying we must challenge such a plan before it is approved as after the plan has been approved, we will have no say about what happens
For Londoners, the plan in question is the so-called London plan to which is Jenrick is about to give his blessing and which we will have only six weeks to challenge from the date when it is published by Sadiq Khan
Marc Willers QC of Garden Court Chambers has already given me his opinion that there are grounds to challenge Jenrick and Sadiq Khan on the basis that the London Plan's heritage policies do not meet national requirements to protect heritage assets
But it gets worse...
The so-called "London" plan fails to offer the same protection of existing open spaces in the capital as national policy and removes the requirement for developers to provide open space of the same high quality as required in national law. If the London Plan is allowed to stand, developers will also no longer be required to provide new open space that reflects the results of a detailed assessment of need for such space to accompany their development
...and it gets even worse
National policy - to which the London Plan must conform - offers protection from development to all existing open space, whereas the London Plan offers protection only to "protected" open spaces such as nationally and internationally protected sites in London, which already enjoy protection from development withing their boundaries.
This leaves most of our open spaces across London exposed to development under the London Plan
...And it gets worse still
In the new London Plan, open space legally becomes a subset of a new thing called the "public realm" which includes shopping malls and station concourses and forecourts
Can you imagine a doubling of population in your area and yet the only places to hang out are your local shopping centre or the station? Here is the definition of public realm in the London Plan:
"The public realm includes all the publicly-accessible space between buildings, whether public or privately owned, from alleyways and streets to squares and open spaces, including the Thames and London’s waterways. Some internal or elevated spaces can also be considered as part of the public realm, such as markets, shopping malls, sky gardens, viewing platforms, museums or station concourses. Such forms of public realm are particularly relevant in areas of higher density.”
We can not sit back and let this decimation of London's neighbourhoods in many areas across London that have been designated as "growth" or "regeneration" areas behind our backs to go ahead