diamond geezer

 Wednesday, December 18, 2019

While all eyes have been on Westminster, the business of governing the capital has continued. Last week the Mayor launched the latest version of his London Plan, two years after putting the draft version out for consultation. We're now at the "Intend to Publish" stage, the final version before assent is given, the document now coming in at a meaty 622 pages. Once ratified it'll form the basis of long-term planning as far ahead as 2041, "a blueprint for future development and sustainable, inclusive growth".

When the draft came out I picked out six maps to show you, and from this latest version I'd like to show you six more. You can learn a lot about London from a map.

This is one of eight maps showing growth corridors spreading out from central London, in this case a segment running east along the Thames Estuary. Everything shaded mucky blue is an opportunity area, which in this case is the majority of the land. Eight numbered hotspots are shown, between them delivering another 127,000 homes by 2041 - the equivalent of one additional London borough. The Royal Docks and Beckton <2> is inner London's largest contributor, while London Riverside <3> along the fringes of Barking and Dagenham and Havering comfortably tops that. South of the river, even 20 years after the millennium there's still room for 17,000 more homes on the Greenwich peninsula. Across this estuary zone an extra 120,000 jobs would also be delivered, with the Royal Docks taking the lion's share, followed by London Riverside and Bexley Riverside <8>. Note the proposed Overground link between Barking and Thamesmead, with additional potential road crossings either side. [page 51]

This map shows the CAZ, or Central Activities Zone - the global centre of excellence which generates much of the UK's wealth. For planning purposes, everything within the solid red line is central London. The whole of the City and the West End is included, with fingers of development pushing out into Paddington, King's Cross and the East End. South of the river the growth areas of Nine Elms and Elephant & Castle are included, along with a swathe of the South Bank. Docklands is so important that it's had to be tacked on as a separate 'satellite', with Stratford and Old Oak Common lined up as potential office-space additions. The London Plan intends to promote and enhance the CAZ, as well as supporting the quarter of a million people who live here. I just like the idea of seeing precisely where it is. [page 80]

I also like this map, because I think it explains a heck of a lot about the capital. It shows London's Town Centre Network, a hierarchy of places where we work, shop and play. I've blogged about this before, with case studies, but I reckon this map's clearer than last time round. Knightsbridge and the West End are the sole examples of the International category, both absolute magnets for global travellers. After that come 14 Metropolitan centres, widely scattered, such as Uxbridge, Wood Green, Croydon and Romford. Most are some way from the centre, but Stratford and Shepherds Bush make the grade thanks to Westfield, and Docklands is in there too. The third rung down is Major centres, of which Wandsworth boasts 4 but Enfield, Barking & Dagenham and Bexley only 1. Below this come the more ubiquitous District centres, although you'll see there are several parts of the capital that don't even have easy access to one of those. I feel quite blessed where I live - you may not be so lucky. [page 99]

These are London's Strategic Industrial Locations. Not all Londoners work in services, some still have to make and manufacture things, hence the need for SILs to be strategically protected. It helps to co-locate industries wherever possible, so fewer people live within polluting distance, and also to ensure sites are close enough to transport networks and other infrastructure. The largest such industrial areas can be found downstream on the Thames, around Dagenham and Erith, where most of London never has to see them. Also highly significant is Park Royal in west London, with a further thread along the Grand Union Canal. The River Lea also really stands out, while that big blotch down south surrounds Beddington Lane. By contrast several inner London boroughs have zero SILs, while Richmond and Barnet are the only outer London industry-lite boroughs. [page 286]

This is great, this is listed buildings per square kilometre. Ignore the white symbols along the Thames, they're London's four World Heritage Sites at Kew, Westminster, the Tower of London and Greenwich. The red areas are Scheduled Monuments, for example Barking Abbey, Fulham Palace, Grim's Dyke and the WW2 fighter pens at Kenley airfield. Instead look at the shades of purple, where the darkest colour means over 350 listed buildings per square kilometre and the lightest means less than five. Most of the 'history' is concentrated in the centre, because that's where London began, with tentacles stretching out towards Hampstead and Greenwich. Ancient settlements in Richmond, Kingston and Chipping Barnet also register, as does Harmondsworth just north of Heathrow. Meanwhile a listed desert spreads east of Barking, and south of Bromley, and there's not much going on in Brent either. Much of suburbia was once nothing more than fields. [page 319]

Finally, let me show you the Green Belt and Metropolitan Open Land. Not much of London is Green Belt, because this was originally prescribed as a ring around the capital, but substantial portions of what's now Hillingdon, Havering and Bromley fall within. The London Plan confirms that development proposals which would harm the Green Belt "should be refused", and its de-designation "will not be supported". Metropolitan Open Land is less familiar but is separately designated at a local level. It includes, for example, Mitcham Common, Hounslow Heath and several green corridors around Greenwich. Tower Hamlets has virtually none. Richmond has plenty. Importantly MOL is afforded the same status and level of protection as Green Belt, and its boundaries should only be changed "in exceptional circumstances". All of this still leaves an awful lot of London clear for development... it's just that most of that is built on already. So many maps tell a story, but the London Plan's maps also help set the future. [page 357]

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