Havering’s Residents’ Associations are calling the Council to challenge a Government Inspector’s rejection of its long-overdue Local Plan
After being presented to the Planning Inspectorate way back in March 2018, consistent objections from the GLA have delayed its approval. Finally, because of the delay, the new London Plan 2021 has come into place and the Inspectorate quite unfairly wants the Council to change its Local Plan to meet exactly what the GLA now wants.
Two of the demands are petty, an increase in housing of 115/year and a reference to 50% Affordable Housing, which can be resolved quite rapidly as the Council has already agreed to update the Local Plan, straight after approval.
FORCED TO ADOPT INNER-LONDON RESTRICTIONS
More seriously, however, even though Local Plans only have to be in general conformity with the London Plan, the Inspector is demanding that parking policy for new developments in Havering must comply absolutely with the GLA I.e. a reduction in parking spaces. In effect, the Inspector, no doubt under Government orders, wants outer-boroughs like Havering to be forced to adopt the same policies/restrictions as in inner-London boroughs.*
Havering is one of London’s largest boroughs, but unlike many London boroughs has fewer stations and bus services and poor connectivity between the north and south of the borough. Unfortunately, the Government and the GLA want Havering to open itself up to mass development and the less parking spaces, the more units can be built.
Cllr Ray Morgon, Leader of the RA Opposition, said “This is unwelcome news and, like the Government’s demand that Havering massively increases its housing targets, it will negatively impact upon our resident’s quality of life. The Council is suggesting we meekly comply but we shouldn’t accept this lying down!”.
Cllr Linda Hawthorn, and a member of the Strategic Planning Committee, said “I am shocked the Government Inspectorate is ignoring Havering’s parking needs. We are an outer-London borough with unique issues and they are being ignored”.
Cllr Graham Williamson (South Hornchurch IRG) says “Sadly, we have already experienced the results of implementing London parking policies on the new Beam Park development which makes it very unlikely most of its residents will be able to own a car. They will find travelling around Havering via public transport a very slow and frustrating experience”.
NO ROOM FOR DIVERSITY?
HRA’s Chairperson, Cllr Gillian Ford, says “London is very diverse and each borough has different needs but this ruling suggests there is no room for difference?”.
Furthermore, she says “We are calling upon our Council to legally challenge the Government Inspector on our right to differ from other boroughs on our parking policies. They should also lobby their own Government party to instruct their Inspector’s not to impose a ‘one size fits all’ onto London boroughs”.
*Although the London Plan will allow some differences between outer & inner boroughs parking standards, it will not allow a deviation on the PTAL 2 (low level of public transport) standard (the majority standard in Havering’s areas). See The Planning Inspectorate letter 13 05 2021 (havering.gov.uk)