diamond geezer

 Thursday, November 30, 2017

Yesterday the Mayor launched the latest Draft London Plan. After consultation, if ratified, it will form the basis of long-term planning in all aspects of service provision from 2019 onwards, with a notional end date of 2041. It's a meaty 500-page document, available in one huge chunk or in several downloadable chapters, and proposes "a blueprint for future development and sustainable, inclusive growth". It also contains a number of maps, and we like maps, so here are half a dozen of them to give you a flavour.

This is The Key Diagram.

It shows the overall spatial vision, so is wildly complex and here quite small, which is why you can't read any of it. A more legible version can be found at the start of Chapter 2. It shows 47 Ongoing Opportunity Areas, from Heathrow in the west to Romford in the east. It shows key rail connections to the Wider South East, especially airports, and to Europe. But in particular it shows eight Growth Corridors, each aligned to a key rail route, where development may be increased. Both arms of Crossrail form such zones, ditto Crossrail 2 and the upgraded Thameslink network. The Bakerloo line extension gets its own corridor, notionally extended to Bromley, and another is the long-promoted Thames Estuary. The eighth corridor has been nicknamed the Trams Triangle and covers Croydon and Sutton, because it wouldn't do to miss South London out. The Key Diagram also gives prominence to the Green Belt, because there are still no plans to start building on that, but elsewhere transport + opportunity = growth.

This is a Town Centre map, specifically Future Potential Changes to Town Centre Network.

I blogged about Town Centres last week, so hopefully terms like International or Major centres make some sense. The Draft London Plan recognises that the importance of commercial hubs changes over time, and this is a map of the locations deemed to be on the up. Shepherd's Bush and Stratford may be upgraded to International centres during the timespan of the plan, on account of them having a Westfield, however ridiculous the idea of someone flying in to visit might sound. Brent Cross, Camden Town, Lewisham and Woolwich could be bumped up to Metropolitan centres, whilst Old Oak, Canada Water and Gallions Reach should earn the right to be Major. Meanwhile those two yellow circles by the river are potential new Retail Clusters in the Central Activities Zone, one in Vauxhall and the other at Battersea Power Station. You can find this map, and the full updated list of Town Centres, in Annex 1.

This is a map showing Proximity To Town Centres.

Each green blob shows areas within 800m walk of a town centre - essentially everywhere within half a mile of a decent set of shops. The blue circles show everywhere within similar walking distance of a station (according to the key blue means "800m distance to a London Underground Station", but that's clearly wrong as stations in Bromley, Kingston and Sutton are included). A pdf version of the map can be found in Chapter 4. Its key strategic importance is showing where in London it's easy to get by without a car, and thus to suggest locations primed for housing intensification. Almost all of central London is blobby, apart from a bit of Southwark where the Bakerloo line extension's going and the non-power-station bit of Battersea. Further out, nobody lives in Richmond Park, so that gaping hole isn't important. But significant swathes of residential Hillingdon, Havering and Bromley aren't so easily accessible, which could seriously dent the Mayor's aspiration of increasing the number of sustainable journeys by 2041.

This map shows the Mayor's 10 Year Housing Targets.

A list in Chapter 4 sets out a borough-by-borough target for Net Completion of new housing, totalling two-thirds of a million extra homes by 2029. Newham, Tower Hamlets and Greenwich have the highest targets, reflecting the importance of the Lower Lea Valley and the Thames corridor in previous versions of the London Plan. Barnet and Croydon have high totals because they already have the highest populations, and are closely followed by Ealing and Brent. Meanwhile certain other areas appear to be getting away with minimal house-building targets - three inner city boroughs because they're already particularly dense, but why excuse Richmond and Sutton (unless their Green Belt truly hems them in)?

Have you spotted on the map that two of the designated areas aren't actually London boroughs, but key opportunity zones overseen by their own planning bodies? One is the recently launched development corporation at Old Oak and Park Royal, nabbing land from Hammersmith & Fulham, Ealing and Brent, and the other is the London Legacy Development Corporation's domain around Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. These zones have particularly challenging targets for their size, but also the infrastructure and investment to cope with high-density transformation. Did you also spot the glaring error in the key, specifically the upper bound for the lowest category... a reminder that this is still very much a draft London Plan.

Here's something people always find fascinating, a map of Designated Strategic Views.

These are views which "make a significant contribution to the image and character of London at the strategic level", either from a distance or as part of a river prospect, and where particularly intrusive development can be restricted. The first six are London Panoramas, specifically from Alexandra Palace, Parliament Hill, Kenwood, Primrose Hill, Greenwich Park and Blackheath Point. The next three are Linear Views each with their own with Landmark Viewing Corridor, namely The Mall to Buckingham Palace, Westminster Pier to St Paul's Cathedral and King Henry VIII's Mound, Richmond to St Paul's Cathedral. Next come a dozen River Prospects, from Tower Bridge down to Lambeth Bridge, and finally five Townscape Views, including from the bridge over the Serpentine and from the tip of the Isle of Dogs to the Royal Naval College. You can learn more about protected views in Chapter 7, or read considerably more detailed guidance here (last updated in 2012).

And finally, just to show it's not all about development, a map of London's waterways.

Actually it's a combined map of London’s Waterways and Registered Parks and Gardens (which is a shame because the green bits get in the way, and although there is a separate waterways map in Chapter 9 this has blobs all over it so is less clear). What you can see here are 18 rivers and four manmade channels, the artificial quartet being the Grand Union Canal, Regents Canal, Lea Navigation and New River. For some reason the map also includes the lost river Westbourne winding down to Westminster, and the wilfully obscure River Wogebourne between Shooters Hill and Thamesmead. I like how the map shows up the complete lack of rivers across much of Sutton, Croydon and Bromley (for geological reasons), but in particular for its overview of a key landscape function most Londoners overlook. If you know which blue lines are the Pinn, the Ingrebourne and the Quaggy, award yourself three bonus points.

Other maps I enjoyed were Public Transport Access Levels in Chapter 4, Strategic Industrial Locations in Chapter 6, Listed Buildings, Scheduled Monuments and World Heritage Sites and the Outline Character Map of London in Chapter 7 and Broadband speed in chapter 9. But the Draft London Plan isn't really a report about maps, it's a proposal for our futures, from where the tallest buildings ought to go to how easy it is to find a public toilet. You'll be able to comment on the plan online from next week, and there are then three months to make your voice heard. If there's something you don't (or do) like, say so, else we'll all get to live with the consequences.

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