The Capital’s planning roadmap signals an exciting journey

HBD Director Harry Bunbury looks at the recently approved London Plan, its implications for the city and for those involved in property development.

The London Mayoral elections are finally set to go ahead in May, following a year’s delay due to the coronavirus pandemic. Whoever is elected – whether the incumbent or one of the other contenders – they will be faced with the challenge of implementing the new London Plan.

This document, which is the Spatial Development Strategy for Greater London drawn up by the Mayor and the Greater London Authority, was formally adopted on 1st February 2021 after approval from the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick MP.

Its significance is that it provides City Hall’s vision on the direction of planning policy for the Capital as a whole and is designed to guide the approach of the London Boroughs. As a result, it will help to shape the way the city evolves, as London recovers from the scars of Covid-19 and what appears to be net migration to the countryside. Given the international nature of the Capital, the plan is also important in terms of readjustment and adaptation to the post-EU economic and political climate.

One of the biggest challenges is the pace of residential housing delivery, which is clearly of interest to us here at HBD. A large element of our work is in industrial regeneration, so immediately there are issues of conflict over land and the conversion to residential use to solve the housing crisis. Given London’s natural buffer of the M25 and the green belt, there is also a requirement for land that can serve the needs of industry. Recent research shows that around 250 acres of this space is being lost every year.

These dilemmas are at the heart of fundamental challenges facing planners, property developers and others delivering in the built environment. How do we collectively keep the city doing what it needs to do? It is likely to involve an intensification of remaining industrial land and innovation of the product that is sited there.

We’re ready to work with occupiers and users, whether they’re parcel delivery companies, waste operators or manufacturers, in the most efficient and effective way possible. Residential and industrial development (‘beds and sheds’) need to be seen as two facets of the same ultimate objective: helping the city to evolve and regenerate.

So, while we certainly won’t be abandoning our existing approach – as exemplified by our work in the London Borough of Enfield on the Montagu Industrial Estate – we are excited to look for new opportunities in the evolving Capital we love. With growing demand, staggering rental growth projections and the increase in the last-mile logistics sector, a great deal of interesting change lies ahead.

To discuss potential opportunities for development and partnership with HBD in London, please contact Harry direct via email at