Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Local Development Framework - Draft Core Strategy [Sections 5, 6 and 7]

Lambeth council recently released a draft version of its "Core Strategy", which is the most important document contained in the "Local Development Framework". The entire document is 116 pages long, although the Council welcome comments. I've been sifting through it over the past few days have and produced a cut-down version, mostly just summarising what was written. I've not changed their wording much, but have shortened and simplified because it contains some interesting ideas for the Borough.

I've used the document headings where possible, but have not summarised every section as it's a highly repetitive document.The terms in purple are the "key" definitions.
The insightful comments in red are my comments. Due to length of the document, I've split my summaries into separate blog posts.

Section 5 – Spatial Planning Issues

In order to achieve sustainable development over next 15-20 yrs, the Core Strategy must address 6 key issues:

1. Accommodating population growth (p24)

According to the mayor’s London Plan, Lambeth must find space for additional 1100 homes every year until 2016/2017. This target has been exceeded for the three yrs since 2005/6. Demand will come as Lambeth children grow up, existing households break into smaller units, and adults/families migrate to the borough to find work and a place to live. Affordability is a struggle in Lambeth where entry level price for housing is high compared with household income. Lambeth’s essential public services find it hard to retain key workers because they can’t afford to live close to whether they work. Lambeth need to identify an additional four pitches for gypsies and travellers in Lambeth.

2. Achieving economic prosperity and opportunity for all (p26)

Lambeth is prosperous, but with pockets of extreme poverty. The poverty is in commercially vibrant areas eg. Waterloo/Brixton. Therefore skills shortages are filled by migrant labour which then increases demand for local housing, transport and services. The Core Strategy will contribute to tackling these barriers by maintaining a supply of local job opportunities. Affordability of premises is an issue for some businesses eg. creative sector and social enterprises.

Waterloo and Vauxhall present the most significant potential for commercial development and job growth in the borough, as well as potential for new housing. However, this will not happen unless the capacity of the public transport infrastructure serving these areas also grows at a sufficient rate. Major developers will be expected to help meet the cost of increasing this. (p27) [They will probably be able to tick the boxes to say that this is done if the developers of Battersea Power Station add two additional tube stations to the Northern Line, but I’m not sure whether those will fall strictly in Lambeth. I think that one of them will. It doesn’t really help anybody living towards the south of the Borough]

Lambeth’s hierarchy of town centres presents another opportunity. New shops need to be located in a way that supports, rather than undermines existing town centres. Brixton and Streatham have potential for new commercial and residential development. This will help secure their future in the face of retail and leisure expansion at Elephant and Battersea. Clapham High Street is thriving. Other high streets need careful regeneration eg. West Norwood, Stockwell [where exactly is Stockwell High Street?] and Herne Hill (p28).


3. Tacking and adapting to climate change (p29)

Most important contribution is to reduce carbon emissions by meeting needs locally, promoting alternative to the car, sustainable design of buildings, re-use of existing buildings, renewable energy, safeguarding allotments, retaining/promoting tree growth, urban greening and reducing landfill waste. [I detect a clash of goods between attempting to build the council housing stock on certain open land, versus promoting green spaces in the north of the Borough. Watch this space.] However, there will still be a need for appropriate car usage, and parking, including for those with mobility difficulties.

4. Providing essential infrastructure (physical, social and green) (p31)

It won’t be possible to achieve the significant levels of housing and economic growth set out in the Core Strategy without supporting transport infrastructure. [This point is reiterated throughout the document, but other than the proposed Northern line extension, I can't see where the investment might come from to promote this.] North/south transport is better than east/west transport and major developers in worst locations will be expected to supplement significant future public sector investment. More land is required for schools. Lambeth, particularly in the north has little open space relative to population. More open space is needed for burial sites.

Lambeth has various sites for sustainable waste management, but does not have the quantity to manage 486,000 tonnes (the prediction by 2020) (p33). [This is very interesting, and presumably all Boroughs have similar problems. I wonder what community strategies could be promoted for reducing waste.]

A general theme running through all partners’ programmes is trend towards neighbourhood based delivery so local facilities need to be increased to promote adult learning, skills training, English language tuition, employment support, child care etc. [I detect another clash of goods between promotion of "local" high street services (Brixton/Streatham) and development of large retail establishments (Elephant and Vauxhall). The document does actually mention this, but fails to outline how all of the community/retail areas are to grow co-operatively.]

5. Promoting community cohesion and safe, liveable neighbourhoods (p33)

Some communities feel their neighbourhoods lack stability and not enough households stay long enough to put down roots. [That’s probably a correct assessment if one considers that there’s a yearly churn of 20%! See previous post.] Residents in some parts of the borough feel that communities are essential to stable community and that the loss of family housing to flats is damaging that. The Core Strategy seeks to address that. Multiple social problems frequently occur on existing social housing sites and it’s difficult for those communities to make positive changes. [Unsurprisingly], some of these estates fail the “decent homes” standards. [It’s not clear whether “the decent homes standards” relate to the figure on p14 that one third of council housing is “unfit”. I suspect it doesn’t, but I’m not clear what the decent homes standards are, and since it sounds alarming, it would be useful to have this outlined.] Communities need spaces that allow informal day-to-day contact and social interaction. Lambeth has such buildings eg. youth centres, places of worship, caf├ęs, local shops, but coverage is uneven and some have shortages of useable space, while others have under-used facilities. Space for young people is a priority in areas where unemployment/gang activity is high. [I hope they've read the studies that suggest that unstructured youth clubs can actually increase crime.] Lambeth has no central volunteer centre. [Interesting point. A volunteer centre would be an interesting proposal.] Large church congregations struggle to find good sized premises in good locations. In the South of Lambeth, there’s a lack of play facilities.

6. Creating and maintaining attractive, distinctive places (p35)

Historic assets are currently under used. The Core Strategy intends to pay particular attention to proposed development on the River Thames. High density development will continue to be essential to meet Lambeth’s needs over next 10-15 years. Tall buildings are appropriate for some uses and in some locations. The Core Strategy encourages high density development, including tall buildings, where of high quality and appropriately located. [I still wonder where tall buildings are ever appropriately located. I wish somebody would do some work on whether tall buildings create or deter community cohesion.] The large number of artists is a distinctive feature of Lambeth and they have specific space needs. Local shops, independent businesses and street markets are essential to identity. These include gay businesses in Vauxhall, Brixton/Lower Marsh markets, Portuguese businesses in Stockwell and Somali businesses in Streatham.

Section 6 – Spatial Vision and Strategic Objectives & Section 7 – Strategic Policies

These sections reiterate much of the above, but p38 has an optimistic and visionary idea of Lambeth in 2030. p42 has a map, showing transport hubs and key areas. p46 sets some housing targets that I haven’t seen elsewhere in the document.

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Section 8 will probably appear tommorrow. It is quite interesting, but is taking a while to summarise because it deals with local areas, and is quite information heavy.

1 comment:

Pstyle said...

Looks pretty similar to all the other LDF documents in the urban parts of England. It bugs me that such 'repetitious' documents took so long to prepare. These are now way behind original govt timelines for delivery.

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