Council meetings

Agenda item

Draft Lewisham Local Plan

Appendices (including the draft plan) included as a separate item


Resolved: that the Committee would refer its views to Mayor and Cabinet.


5.1    The Chair thanked officers for the report and welcomed the level of engagement that had been carried out with councillors in the development of the draft plan.


5.2    Emma Talbot (Director of Planning) and David Syme (Strategic Planning Manager) introduced the report – the following key points were noted:

·         Officers welcomed the level of engagement from Councillors. Consideration was given to involving Councillors and the public above and beyond the minimum requirements in the Council’s statement of community involvement.

·         The report was still in draft form – and agreement was being sought for the next stage of consultation.

·         The plan set out proposals for good growth and the development of strategic infrastructure.

·         There were still a number of stages of preparation, decision making and consultation for the report to go through before it could be submitted for examination by the planning inspector.

·         The draft plan brought together a number of previous planning documents, including: the core strategy, the site allocations plan, the development management policies and the previous local plan.

·         Part one of the new plan set out the vision for the borough, this had been developed with the Lewisham’s mayor’s office to reflect the corporate strategy. This section also set out the strategic objectives (which had been agreed by all members).

·         Part two of the plan set out the development management polices – which would govern the determination of planning applications in the borough. Members had previously received a briefing on key changes and the effectiveness of previous policy. Where possible, suggestions from Members had been incorporated into the new policies.

·         The policies also had to align with national and regional policy changes.

·         The policies strengthened Lewisham’s approach to climate change.

·         Part three of the plan set out the approach to Lewisham’s neighbourhoods and places.

·         The approach to neighbourhoods and places had been developed in line with the Committee’s recommendations – as well as consultation with local communities.

·         Parts four and five of the plan contained technical information.

·         The public consultation on the plan would build on best practice and experience from recent consultation exercises. The strategy for the delivery of the consultation was taking longer than anticipated.

·         As proposed by the Committee, officers were developing an executive summary of the plan to make it as accessible as possible.


5.3    Emma Talbot, David Syme, and Eric Nilsen (Principal Planning Policy Officer) responded to questions from the Committee – the following key points were noted:

·         Officers recognised the issue of people paving over their driveways with non-permeable materials – when combined with the impacts of climate change would increase the risk of flooding. However, permitted development rights allowed people to make a number of changes to their homes without applying for planning permission.

·         There was a specific policy in the plan on sustainable drainage systems – which was part of the overall approach in the plan to climate change adaptation and mitigation.

·         Where the Council had power to rule on a planning application (work not carried out under permitted development rights) the development management policy specified permeable paving materials for driveways.

·         Consideration was being given to the ways in which the plan should respond to the emerging climate emergency. The plan would be reviewed every five years, which would allow policy to adapt to the Council’s approach to the climate emergency.

·         The planning system could not stop people from running down a pub as a business. The policy proposed in the plan put in place measures to protect pubs from development but there were limits to what could be achieved through the local plan.

·         Further consideration would be given to the other options for the provision of support to businesses in the borough.

·         Officers had taken on board the Committee’s suggestions about the protection of pubs. There were also policies in the plan that supported the night-time economy more broadly.

·         Officers recognised the strategic importance of the green corridor in Lee Green and Grove Park.

·         There was specific policy in the plan to support the improvement of the ‘linear network of green space’ in the east of the borough.

·         There had been an increase in the number of enforcement officers in planning and the team was growing.

·         It was recognised that the plan would be inherited by the borough’s young people. Options were being explored for further engagement with young people.

·         Planning officers had been working with colleagues in the transport team to develop the transport section of the plan. Further consideration would be given to the target for electric vehicle charging infrastructure in new buildings.

·         The London plan cycle parking standards would apply to the local plan. Additional reference could be made to the capacity for securing cargo bikes.

·         Officers would check whether developers of student accommodation were exempt from making community infrastructure levy payments.

·         The local plan could not address the issues raised by members regarding leaseholders.

·         Work was taking place with officers across the Council to ensure that the digital infrastructure was in place to support future housing and business growth.

·         The likely impact of the expansion of the ultra-low emission zone on the requirement for parking space in the borough (and in new developments) was as yet unknown.

·         Work was taking place to deal with problems caused by the ‘street clutter’ of abandoned phone boxes and signs.

·         The plan identified areas of deficiency of play space in the borough.

·         There were proposals in the plan to increase the volume of ‘playable public realm’ which provided informal spaces for play and recreation for people of all ages.

·         Officers did not believe that the positioning of letter boxes in new buildings could be addressed in the local plan.

·         Further work would take place with officers in the Council’s regeneration team to develop the borough’s civic strategy.

·         Officers would consider the location of the designation of Hither Green local centre in the plan.

·         Issues raised by Members at planning committees were recorded and reported in the annual monitoring report.


5.4    In Committee discussions the following key points were also noted:

·         Members expressed support for increasing the protections on Lewisham’s pubs – particularly those that were in listed buildings.

·         Concerns were expressed about the designation of new conservation areas because of the potential limitations on the installation of solar panels and external cladding (to improve energy efficiency).

·         Members welcomed the consideration that had been given to climate change in the plan.

·         Members would welcome inclusion of infrastructure for cargo bikes in the borough.

·         Members asked that the lessons learnt from the development of the Catford regeneration masterplan regarding place shaping would be built into the work on the A21 corridor supplementary planning document.

·         Members reiterated support for the ‘Urban National Park’ initiative centred around Grove Park nature reserve.

·         Members would welcome further detail about the designation of Catford as the civic heart of the borough.

·         Officers agreed with Members concerns about the impact of ‘General Permitted Development Rights’ and the poor quality of some of the housing delivered under these rights. It could not be referenced in the local plan because by definition it fell outside of the scope of the plan.

·         The Council recognised the value of trees and planning officers resisted tree loss wherever possible.

·         Further consideration could be given to the issue of sound proofing in homes in multiple occupation. It was important not to duplicate rules already in place through building control regulations.


5.5    The following key points made by Councillors attending under standing orders (Councillors Hall and Gallagher) were noted:

·         Members from Bellingham ward were supportive of the Bell Green community masterplan.

·         There were concerns about protection for listed buildings in Bell Green, including the Liversey Hall.

·         Further work should take place to manage traffic in Bell Green – in order to improve air quality and the environment.

·         The need for NHS services should be recognised in the local plan. This should include the future of the Sydenham Green health centre.

·         The designation of the Bellingham estate as a conservation area would be welcomed.

·         There were concerns about the height and massing of buildings being proposed (and permitted) along the Bromley Road because of the impact on the surrounding residential areas.

·         There was a pressing need for social housing – that was truly affordable.

·         Members would welcome preference being given in the plan to social housing rather than shared ownership.

·         Consideration should be given to lowering the threshold for provision of affordable housing in new developments (to lower than 10 units – as at present).

·         Stronger policy on ‘tenure blind’ housing and common entrances would be welcomed – given the issues that had been identified with some developments segregating types of housing.


5.6    Emma Talbot, David Syme and Erik Nilsen responded to questions from Members attending the meeting under standing orders – the following key points were noted:

·         Officers were supportive of community plans for Bell Green. The area had been identified as an opportunity area – and potentially a new district centre for the south of the borough. Any plans made by the Council would incorporate the community masterplan for the area and would include local councillors.

·         It was recognised that at present the environment around Bell Green was not welcoming.

·         There was not specific detail in the plan about the scale and massing of buildings along the Bromley Road – however – work was beginning on the development of plans for the A21 corridor. This would give consideration to: public realm improvements; scale and massing of buildings; density of housing and social infrastructure. It was intended that this would result in the development of a new supplementary planning document for this area.

·         Officers had worked hard, in consultation with the Mayor and Cabinet Member to create a strong policy on social housing – that could be justified in planning terms. The plan was specific about Lewisham’s definition of social housing.

·         The infrastructure delivery plan that had been prepared alongside the local plan set out the requirements for the infrastructure required to deliver the ambitions in the local plan.

·         Consideration could be given to making the Bellingham Estate a conservation area.

·         The plan set out the existing conservation areas in the borough – it also identified ‘areas of special character’, which were areas that might become conservation areas in the future.

·         It would not be possible to say that shared ownership was not acceptable in new developments – but the plan could state a preference based on need.

·         Viability assessments indicated that affordable housing could be provided in housing developments of less than ten units. Consideration would be given to the wording in the plan regarding the preference of including affordable housing on site (rather than making a contribution to affordable housing off site).

·         Further consideration would be given to the minimum standards for ceiling heights in new developments – to achieve the maximum possible.

·         Officers had reviewed other borough’s local plans and examples of best practice.


5.7    Emma Talbot responded to a question from about consultation with the community – the following key points were noted:

·         Officers intended to carry out further work with local communities to develop the visions for their areas.

·         It was correct that there was no requirement for developers to consult with the local community – and when they did consult – there was no requirement for them to do it well. Officers used the pre-application process to work with developers and encourage best practice.

·         Work was also taking place through the local democracy review to ensure that there was good engagement through all parts of the planning process – from policy to the submission of applications.

·         Development management policy in the new plan highlighted to developers that the Council would look more favourably on planning applications that demonstrated active engagement with local communities.


5.8    Resolved: that the Committee would refer its views to Mayor and Cabinet as follows –

·         The Committee commends the work that has been carried out by officers in developing the draft local plan. It particularly welcomes the engagement that has been carried out with councillors.

·         The Committee recommends that there should be greater emphasis in the new plan on the ‘Urban National Park’ initiative which is proposed in the south of the borough.

·         That when deciding on designating a new conservation area - careful consideration should be given to the potential impact on residents’ future ability to install energy saving features (such as solar panels and external insulation).

·         The Committee would welcome stronger enforcement activity to protect the borough’s heritage assets and listed buildings. It is particularly concerned about the borough’s historic pubs.

·         The Committee recommends that funding for planning enforcement should be maintained and, where possible, strengthened.

·         The Committee recommends that officers give further consider about how best to protect the borough’s trees.

·         The Committee is concerned about the impact of impermeable paving on flood risk in the borough. It recommends that officers should investigate the options for removing permitted development rights for paving on front gardens in order to ensure that permission is only given for sustainable permeable paving.

·         The Committee recommends that further consideration should be given to ensuring that affordable housing for students is allocated to those who are most in need.


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