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Wider South East Update January 2017

Wider South East update

SEEC’s occasional update on our work with London and the East of England

January 2017

Influencing opportunity draws over 100 councillors and officers 

The December Wider South East Summit, jointly organised by SEEC, provided the first ever opportunity to debate housing, economic and infrastructure priorities for a new London Plan prior to drafting. Round table discussions at the event saw attendees feed in views for London to consider and also comment on the Wider South East priorities for 2017.

Jules Pipe, Deputy Mayor of London for Planning, Regeneration and Skills attended to represent the London Mayor, joining SEEC Chairman Cllr Nicolas Heslop and Cllr David Finch, Chairman of the East of England Infrastructure & Growth Group on the Summit panel. Over 100 Councillors and officers attended to hear updates from the panel and contribute to the discussion.

Key points drawn out from discussions by independent Summit facilitator, Phil Swann included a strong view that if the Mayor cannot meet London’s housing needs within its boundaries, he should consider Green Belt for housing – as many authorities in the South East already have to do – before looking at options outside London’s boundaries.

Phil also drew attention to widespread views at the Summit that it was important for the Mayor to be clear and honest about whether London could meet its needs internally – and to recognise the South East has its own development pressures and constraints.

On Wider South East priorities for 2017, delegates expressed strong support for continued working together to secure infrastructure investment across the area to underpin housing and economic growth. A number of attendees stressed the need to recognise the importance of orbital transport routes that link areas of South East economic growth and would take pressure off London routes, as well as ‘London-centric’ radial growth corridors.

 

Early thinking on the new London Plan unveiled

Speaking at the Wider South East Summit, London Deputy Mayor Jules Pipe outlined the Mayor’s priorities and Manifesto commitments and John Lett, GLA Strategic Planning Manager ran though the early thinking on how London could meet its housing need

No targets have been set yet but early estimates suggest London will need to identify land to build at least 50,000 homes every year. London will look to meet its need within its boundaries as much as possible through use of brownfield sites and ‘densification’ based around town centres and existing transport infrastructure.

The mayor recognises however, that it may not be possible to meet all housing need within London and wants to explore options outside the boundary. London is seeking willing ‘partners for growth’ to collaborate with, to deliver homes in return for help in attracting transport investment into growth corridors in the Wider South East. In addition, London wants to explore opportunities to free up land for housing by relocating some industrial land to other parts of the Wider South East.

In discussion, delegates raised a number of points including:

*  London needs to set out clearly how it will fully explore all options for tackling the challenge of meeting its housing needs before exploring options outside its boundaries – to ensure a level playing field London should consider Green Belt release to help meet its housing needs

*  London must acknowledge its policy decisions will also have an impact on councils in the South East

*  It cannot be assumed that London’s unmet housing needs can easily be met in the South East given high levels of existing growth/need and the constraints facing many areas

*  Any proposals to help London meet its needs outside its boundaries must involve councils who are willing partners, based on mutually beneficial outcomes

*  London must clearly set out the benefits to any South East councils that might consider taking extra housing growth or industrial land and explain how it will work in practice

*  A Wider South East section could be included in the new London Plan to highlight the key growth locations, infrastructure projects and environmental assets across the region.

SEEC has also responded to the Mayor’s ‘vision’ consultation ‘A City for All Londoners’.

 

 2016 progress update

Panellists representing London, the South East and East of England updated Summit attendees with reports on the progress made by the Wider South East Political Steering Group over the last year. 

Jules Pipe, Deputy Mayor of London outlined the range of events and meetings that took place to enable dialogue between the areas and updated attendees on the London Plan timetable.

Cllr David Finch, Chairman of the East of England Infrastructure & Growth Group ran through the 13 infrastructure schemes identified as priorities for joint influencing work. The list of schemes includes some of those identified in SEEC’s Missing Links report such as the North Downs Line and Oxford to Cambridge corridor.

SEEC Chairman, Nicolas Heslop highlighted shared concerns about the growing problem of unimplemented planning permissions for homes across the Wider South East. Members will meet housing minister Gavin Barwell in January to discuss tackling barriers and improve industry delivery of approved homes, increase delivery of affordable homes and secure infrastructure investment to support housing growth. 

 

WSE priorities endorsed 

Summit delegates from London, the South East and East have stressed the importance of continuing to work together on cross-boundary issues and dates have now been set for 2017 Summit and Political Steering Group meetings to continue the work programme.

Attendees were in agreement that Council Leaders must continue to join forces to collectively make the case for investment – across the Wider South East as a whole – that is vital to drive housing and economic growth. Roundtable feedback broadly indicated support for further work on current priority themes and the Political Steering Group will agree a final work programme based on:

*  Engagement and consultation on the new London Plan

*  Tackling housing barriers

*  Joint influencing on strategic infrastructure

*  Common understanding of the evidence to support plan making and delivery

A call was also made for the Mayor of London to use his political weight to strengthen awareness of the work of the WSE by supporting schemes that are critical not just for London but also for the East and South East.

The 2017 WSE Summit date has been confirmed as 24 November and dates have been set for 2017 WSE Political Steering Group and Officer Working Group meetings. In addition, representatives will work to secure further opportunities to influence the new London Plan and follow up on the request made by SEEC Chairman, Cllr Nicolas Heslop at the Summit for opportunities to meet with the London Mayor.

 

News Roundup

Housing Minister to meet WSE representatives
Following the WSE letter to Ministers on barriers to housing delivery, a meeting has been scheduled with Minister of State for Housing and Planning, Gavin Barwell MP on 19 January. The Minister will meet with WSE representatives to discuss potential options to help local authorities clear the large and growing backlog of unimplemented planning permissions.

SEEC calls for Mayor to consider Green Belt release
Initial consultation on the London Mayor’s vision A City for All Londoners closed in December. SEEC’s response calls on the Mayor to consider Green Belt release to enable London to meet its own need, without adding to housing pressures already faced in the South East. The letter also asks the Mayor to support large-scale strategic transport schemes that would benefit both our areas.