London planning news, August 2022


London planning news, August 2022

15 Aug 2022




Headline news


West London electricity shortage causing delays to new development

Concerns over the capacity of London’s electricity grid may threaten the delivery of new homes in West London. A note from the GLA to TechUK states that recent applicants to the SSEN (Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks) distribution network are being told that there is insufficient capacity for new connections in this area.
The shortages are expected to affect Hounslow, Ealing and Hillingdon, which may see a moratorium on new housing and other developments while a solution is found. According to the note, the GLA has been notified that new major applications may need to wait several years to be connected to the grid, though this is unlikely to affect developments of under 25 houses.
It says, that “having been alerted to the West London Capacity constraints by housing developers, the GLA are coordinating between SSEN, NGET, National Grid Electricity System Operator (NGESO), Ofgem, UK Power Networks (UKPN), affected London boroughs, data centres and developers”.
The note states that these bodies aim to upgrade their networks to support the increased demand, which should help accommodate additional connection requests from housing and commercial developments. However, these works are expected to take “many years” to complete.
The GLA has indicated that the shortage may be related to an increase in data centres along the A4 corridor:
Recently, there has been a rapid influx of requests for new electricity connections throughout West London from data centre operators who have sought to co-locate adjacent to fibre optic cables that pass through the region along the M4 corridor, and then crossing the Atlantic. Data centres use large quantities of electricity, the equivalent of towns or small cities, to power servers and ensure resilience in service.”

Mayor of London, West London Electrical Capacity Constraints



Quote of the month

Recently, there has been a rapid influx of requests for new electricity connections throughout West London from data centre operators who have sought to co-locate adjacent to fibre optic cables that pass through the region along the M4 corridor, and then crossing the Atlantic. Data centres use large quantities of electricity, the equivalent of towns or small cities, to power servers and ensure resilience in service.
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan’s statement on the Levelling Up White Paper


Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill proposes to retain spatial strategies

The Government’s Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill is currently at Committee Stage in the House of Commons. Alongside proposals to changes to the structure of local government, Development Corporations, and the procedure and remit for authorities to carry out Compulsory Purchase Orders, the Bill puts forth a raft of planning changes which would change the structure and status of local plans, alongside changes to development management, and a new Infrastructure Levy.
Strategic planning powers such as those in place in London could be expanded to other areas, while there may be additional flexibility as to how authorities work on cross-boundary planning, albeit the Duty to Cooperate may well be dropped.
The Bill propose changes to the GLA Act 1999; revisions would make the Act more explicit in defining the remit of Spatial Development Strategies, with the amendments making clear that these should be limited to matters of strategic importance only.
The new Infrastructure Levy that is proposed would partly replace the current Community Infrastructure Levy and the system of seeking developer contributions via s106 contributions. Rates for the new Infrastructure Levy would be based on a percentage of gross development value above a certain threshold, using the value of property when it is sold. These would be set and collected locally. The Bill clarifies that the existing arrangements for charging CIL at a strategic level, such as Mayoral CIL 2, would be retained. In-kind contributions that form a part of a development may also continue to be appropriate in certain circumstances, it is likely that these would continue to be delivered via s106 agreements or planning condition.
There are various other proposals aimed to support regeneration, including the introduction of ‘high street rental auctions’ for vacant commercial properties. These would be compulsory for properties left unoccupied for either the entirety of the previous year, or more than 366 days of the two previous years. This would be dependent on a local benefit condition to be satisfied, to ensure the new use would be beneficial to the local economy, society or environment. Compulsory purchase rules are also proposed to change, with further powers given to local authorities allowing CPOs to be used more freely regeneration purposes.
The Government was intending to publish a policy prospectus this summer, though this may have been delayed due to the Conservative leadership contest. This is expected to set out the Government’s intended changes to national policy, including its new Development Management Policies which would form a part of the development plan, under new provisions set out in the Bill. For more information, please see Lichfield’s dedicated web resource on the LURB.

UK Parliament, Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill 2022


The OPDC adopts Local Plan

The Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) adopted its local plan on 22 June. The OPDC is a Mayoral Development Corporation (MDC), covering an Opportunity Area covering parts of the London boroughs of Ealing, Brent, and Hammersmith & Fulham.
The Plan sets out the spatial vision for the regeneration of the Old Oak and Park Royal area for the 2018–2038 period, setting out detailed policies as to how this will be achieved. The Opportunity Area is identified in the London Plan as having capacity to deliver a minimum of 25,500 new homes; the OPDC local plan will seek to deliver 13,670 additional homes during the first ten years of the plan period.
This is the second of two Local Plans that have been adopted by a MDC, with the first of these relating to the 2020 – 2036 Plan for the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, with the London Legacy Corporation acting as planning authority.

OPDC's Local Plan 2022 Adoption

Modifications required for Article 4 Directions

The Secretary of State (SoS) has written to four local authorities setting out modifications he has made to various Article 4 Directions proposed for their respective areas. All four of the Article 4 Directions seek to restrict the Part 4 Class MA permitted development rights, which allow for change of use for business, service and commercial uses (Class E) to residential (Class C3).
The authorities affected by the SoS’s direction include:
  • Westminster; 
  • Richmond Upon Thames; 
  • Wandsworth Council; and 
  • Kensington and Chelsea.
The GPDO 2015 requires that any Article 4 Directions must be agreed by the SoS, who has powers to either modify or quash the direction. The modifications put forward by the SoS were made on the basis that the Article 4s were not sufficiently targeted, with each letter containing the following justification:
“The Article 4 direction, as made, does not take a sufficiently targeted approach in the assessment of the wholly unacceptable adverse impacts of the permitted development right in each location. Such an approach is necessary to ensure that Article 4 direction applies only to the smallest geographical area possible. I am therefore of the view that the boundary must now be modified in accordance with the notice attached to this letter.”
As such, each of the Directions has been amended to remove certain areas and frontages from the designation. The LB of Kensington and Chelsea had initially attempted to designate the entirety of the borough under the Direction; the SoS’s modifications will mean that its major high streets and commercial areas are protected, though there have been changes which may affect some district centres.
Since Class MA (alongside other PD rights) came into effect on 1 August 2021, a number of other inner London boroughs have sought to restrict its use, with backing from the Mayor who last year provided evidence in support of Article 4 Directions for London’s Central Activities Zone and other key town centre designations. Similarly, then Housing Minister, Stewart Andrew wrote to the authorities involved also stating these did not take a sufficiently targeted approach.

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Article 4 directions: Secretary of State modification letters

Disclaimer: This publication has been written in general terms and cannot be relied on to cover specific situations. We recommend that you obtain professional advice before acting or refraining from acting on any of the contents of this publication. Lichfields accepts no duty of care or liability for any loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from acting as a result of any material in this publication. Lichfields is the trading name of Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners Limited. Registered in England, no.2778116