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Our Responses to the Mayor’s Draft Strategies for London

The Mayor of London is consulting on a new London Plan to help deliver his strategic vision for 'good growth' and a greener, better connected, healthier London. The London Plan will be supported by a series of strategic plans. Scroll down or use the links to jump to Historic England's responses to the draft London strategies for:

Draft London Transport Strategy

Delivering improved transport networks, new homes, and creating healthy streets can present both opportunities but also challenges for London's rich historic and cultural environment.

How can we ensure that transport led-growth is delivered alongside new development which not only benefits the historic environment but also builds characterful places which integrate effectively with existing places and communities?

Our response

We set out a number of key areas where Historic England believes the plan could better achieve these aims. These include:

  • Integrating the historic environment into 'good growth' and 'healthy street indicators'
  • Focusing on optimum densities rather than maximum densities
  • Ensuring an understanding of the significance of the historic environment and local character informs any proposed developments from the earliest stages

The underground sign in front of the shops and station entrance on the marylebone road elevation of chiltern court flats, beneath which is baker street station.
The underground sign in front of the shops and station entrance on the Marylebone Road elevation of Chiltern Court Flats, London. Photo by John Gay, 1960 - 1972 © Historic England AA063076

Draft London Housing Strategy

London has a housing crisis. Projections indicate that the number of homes built each year needs to double, with many more affordable homes.

The strategy opens the way to think again about where we build new homes, how we build them and who builds them. It addresses how to achieve high quality design, inclusive development and greater partnership working.

Our response

Our response promotes ways to integrate consideration of the historic environment, especially in initiatives to bring forward small sites and developments in town centres.

We welcome the new emphasis on increasing density through medium-rise rather than tall buildings and the Mayor's commitment to design review.

Best practice examples can help lead the way, and we draw attention to our report Translating Good Growth for the Historic Environment. We highlight the advantage of upfront archaeological assessment in de-risking the planning process.

Block of flats at Stratford Olympic Site.
Stratford Olympic Site housing development © Historic England

Draft London Health Inequalities Strategy

This strategy seeks to address the variation in health outcomes that Londoners experience across the capital at present.

Although the connection between the historic environment and health issues may not seem immediately obvious, Historic England is clear that it has a role to play.

Our response

We focus on two areas:

  • Firstly, the relationship between the quality of the built and historic environment and the continued use and vitality of historic places - emphasising that successful management of historic parks, gardens and high streets helps ensure they continue to be well used for formal and informal activity, keeping people active and playing a role in health outcomes as a result
  • Secondly, highlighting the emerging body of evidence that demonstrates the link between heritage and mental health and well-being. A number of research projects have now concluded there is a positive link between experiencing and engaging with the historic environment (for example in volunteering roles) and improved mental health

Fournier Street, Spitalfields, woman crossing the street with child.
Fournier Street, Spitalfields © Historic England

Draft London Environment Strategy

The strategy identifies the environmental challenges facing London. Of these air quality is the Mayor's key concern for which short and long-term measures are proposed. Other issues include the loss of green space, lack of access to green space for some Londoners, projected increases in energy use and excessive noise levels affecting Londoners' health.

Our response

Our response highlights the qualitative values of green space, including London's Royal Parks, local parks and garden squares, and how the relationship between historic parks and buildings is key to the experience of London's landscape and townscape.

We underline the opportunities for adaptation of historic buildings for greater energy efficiency through approaches tailored to heritage interest. And we advocate a broad definition of the environment that encompasses the historic dimension of London's environment. The proposal for a National Park city should encompass London's exceptional cultural heritage.

Regent's Park, Camden photographed from the air.
Regent's Park, Camden © Historic England

Draft Economic Development Strategy

Economic development can deliver not only new jobs and encourage new businesses, but also seek to address income inequalities. This is what the Mayor's draft strategy is intended to achieve, through creating helpful conditions for economic growth and supporting key sectors of London's economy.

Our response

The Historic England response demonstrates the wide-ranging contribution of the historic environment to economic growth in London - as a key driver of tourism and the visitor economy, a significant employment sector in itself and as an important element of a well-designed and successful city that businesses and employees want to locate in.

We also focus on the way heritage positively contributes to social integration, health and quality of life outcomes with consequent benefits for future economic growth.

Former Wallis department store tea room, with murals of famous opera scenes being used as office space
Former Wallis department store tea room, with murals of famous opera scenes, now an IT department for the Arcadia Group, Oxford Circus, Westminster, Greater London © Historic England DP183530

Draft Culture Strategy for London - Culture for All Londoners

Alongside the Mayor's other strategies and plans, the draft Culture Strategy outlines an ambitious vision to sustain a city that works for everyone. A city that is built on the principle of culture for all Londoners.

The strategy has four priorities:

  1. Love London - more people experiencing and creating culture on their doorstep
  2. Culture and Good Growth - supporting, saving and sustaining cultural places
  3. Creative Londoners - investing in a diverse creative workforce for the future
  4. World City - maintaining a global powerhouse in a post-Brexit world

Our response

London’s diverse heritage and culture are intrinsically linked. The historic environment often forms the backdrop against which cultural activities take place. Our cultural venues, together with public spaces, parks and views, create a remarkable experience of London. Our shared heritage draws people to the city, making it attractive for businesses, tourism and as a place to live. For these reasons we welcomed the recognition given in the strategy to the historic environment's contribution to London's cultural offer, particularly the objective to 'support, sustain and enhance heritage' and the Mayor's commitment to supporting London's diverse heritage.

However there were a few areas of the strategy that we felt could be strengthened to better support London's historic environment. These include:

  • Scope of the strategy and definition of culture
  • Supporting London's diverse heritage (Policy 9)
  • Recognising the contribution London's historic environment makes to tourism, the economy and employment

Finally, we repeated our call for a Heritage Strategy for London. This is needed to support local planning authorities, neighbourhood and civic groups, developers and other stakeholders in delivering Good Growth. We understand that the Mayor is committed to producing a London-wide Heritage Strategy and would welcome a strong reference to this in the Culture Strategy.

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