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27/10/2015

Mayor launches planning and culture guide

Words: Laura Edgar

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has called on planners, developers and local authorities to put culture and creativity at the forefront when planning and designing developments in the capital.

Yesterday Johnson published An A-Z of planning and culture (pdf), which, the Mayor said, outlines the practical steps that can be taken to integrate and protect culture as well as support new cultural activity in developments.

This follows the publication last week of London’s grassroots music venues: Rescue Plan, by the Mayor’s Music Venues Taskforce. It found that from 2007 to 2015, the number of places for new artists to perform dropped from 136 to 88 in London, while the new guide finds the capital is set to lose 3,500 artist's studios in the next five years.

The rescue plan recommended that the next iteration of the London Plan contain specific references to music venues, and so too should local plans.

Likewise, An A-Z of planning and culture states that the London Plan and every local plan should highlight the importance of culture to the area. Local plans “need to reflect the full range of heritage assets and cultural infrastructure”, such as theatres, cinemas, skate parks, pubs, restaurants and nightclubs.

Johnson said: “As London continues to grow and prosper there is a critical need to build more homes for Londoners, but this should not be at the expense of our culture and distinctiveness, which are hugely important for our economy. There are good examples of developers and planners incorporating culture into their regeneration schemes, including Olympicopolis, London City Island, the City and Nine Elms. We want more of them to be talking to, even working with cultural bosses, artists and other creatives at the start of projects and recognise the value of culture, not just to our city's quality of life, but to the success of their developments.”

The guide covers a range of areas, including neighbourhood plans, S.106 agreements, assets of community value, listed buildings and restrictions on permitted development, and provides tips for success on each section.

Aimed at the “people and organisations shaping London’s future”, the guide also includes examples of good practice and case studies, as well as laying out what planners, developers and community groups can do using existing frameworks.

Richard Blyth, head of policy at the RTPI, said: “The planned permanence of the right to turn any workplace into a home almost everywhere in England threatens the creative industries of places with high rents. Shouldn’t the Mayor be opposing this?”

An A-Z of planning and culture can be found here (pdf).

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