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Planning in London


National planning policies are prepared by the Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), but the planning system in London is slightly different from the planning system in most of the rest of England.

In London, there is an elected Mayor who provides the leadership for the government of London. The Mayor is responsible for strategic planning in London. The Mayor's two main tasks are:

  • Producing the London Plan; and
  • Considering major planning applications.

All of the Mayor's decisions, planning and otherwise, are scrutinised by the London Assembly. However, the Assembly members are not able to change the Mayor's decisions on major planning applications.

Together, the Mayor, the London Assembly are known as the Greater London Authority (GLA); this is the governing body for the whole of London.

At the local level, there are 33 London Boroughs (including the Corporation of the City of London); these are your local councils that are responsible for a variety of services; that includes deciding planning applications and preparing the LDF. As part of his role, the Mayor will examine and give comments on the Boroughs' LDFs as they are prepared to make sure that they are consistent with the overall London Plan.

The diagram below shows how these different bodies relate to each other:


This is the Spatial Development Strategy for London, but it is more commonly known as the :London Plan. It is the document that sets out long term planning policies for London and provides guidance on how it will grow and change. It takes European and national planning policies into account and also considers economic, environmental and social issues so that it can provide a proper framework for the future development of the capital.

More information on the London Plan can be found at:

The first London Plan was published in 2008. Since this time there have been some further changes to update the Plan. The most recent London Plan was published in 2011. On 11 October 2013, the Mayor published Revised Early Minor Alterations to the London Plan (REMA). From this date, the REMA are operative as formal alterations to the London Plan (the Mayor's spatial development strategy) and form part of the development plan for Greater London.

On 15 January 2014, the Mayor published Draft Further Alterations to the London Plan (FALP) for a twelve-week period of public consultation.

What happens next?

The FALP will be considered by an independent planning inspector at a public examination later in 2014.

PAL will keep you updated on the London Plan's progress as announcements are made; alternatively, you can visit the Mayor's web site for more information.


The Mayor deals with certain major planning applications. These generally fall under the following categories:

Category 1A
Development of more than 150 houses, flats, or houses and flats.

Category 1B
Development in the City of London and with a total floorspace of more than 100,000 square metres; in Central London (other than the City of London) and with a total floorspace of more than 20,000 square metres; or outside Central London and with a total floorspace of more than 15,000 square metres.

Category 1C
Development of a building is more than 25 metres high and is adjacent to the River Thames; the building is more than 150 metres high and is in the City of London; the building is more than 30 metres high and is outside the City of London.

Category 1D
Alteration of an existing building where the development would increase the height of the building by more than 15 metres and the building would fall within a description set out Category 1C.

Category 2A
Mining operations where the development occupies more than 10 hectares.

Category 2B
Waste development for (a) 5,000 tonnes per annum of hazardous waste; or (b) 50,000 tonnes per annum of waste.
2. Waste development where the development occupies more than one hectare.

Category 2C
Development of an aircraft runway; a heliport (including a floating heliport or a helipad on a building); an air passenger terminal at an airport; a railway station or a tram station; a tramway, an underground, surface or elevated railway, or a cable car; a bus or coach station; "Class B8" (storage or distribution) where the development occupies more than 4 hectares; a crossing over or under the River Thames; or a passenger pier on the River Thames.
2. Development to alter an air passenger terminal to increase its capacity by more than 500,000 passengers per year.
3. Development for storage of 70 or more buses or coaches or where the part of the development used for keeping or storing buses or coaches occupies more than 0.7 hectares.

Category 2D
Other waste development which does not accord with the development plan in force in the area in which the application site is situated and (a) occupies more than 0.5 hectares; or (b) is development to deal with more than (i) 2,000 tonnes per annum of hazardous waste; or
(ii) 20,000 tonnes per annum of waste.

Category 3A
Development which is likely to—
(a) result in the loss of more than 200 houses, flats, or houses and flats (irrespective of whether the development would entail also the provision of new houses or flats); or
(b) prejudice the residential use of land which exceeds 4 hectares and is used for residential use.

Category 3B
(a) which occupies more than 4 hectares of land which is used for a use within Class B1 (business), B2 (general industrial) or B8 (storage or distribution) of the Use Classes Order; and
(b) which is likely to prejudice the use of that land for any such use./p>

Category 3C
Development which is likely to prejudice the use as a playing field of more than 2 hectares of land which (a) is used as a playing field at the time the relevant application for planning permission is made; or (b) has at any time in the five years before the making of the application been used as a playing field.

Category 3D
Development (a) on land allocated as Green Belt or Metropolitan Open Land in the development plan, in proposals for such a plan, or in proposals for the alteration or replacement of such a plan;
And (b) which would involve the construction of a building with a floorspace of more than 1,000 square metres or a material change in the use of such a building.

Category 3E
Development (a) which does not accord with one or more provisions of the development plan in force in the area in which the application site is situated; and (b) comprises or includes the provision of more than 2,500 square metres of floorspace of non residential uses.

Category 3F
Development for a use, other than residential use, which includes the provision of more than 200 car parking spaces in connection with that use.

In addition there are two types of development that the Secretary of State has separately required local planning authorities to consult the Mayor on. These are:

More detail on the Mayor's Strategic planning powers and copies of relevant reports on applications can be found here: http://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/planning/strategic-planning-applications


Other Government Planning Policy

The Development Plan


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