Since 2012 the Planning Committee, which I chair, has been monitoring the progress of two aspects of localism – neighbourhood planning and the community right to bid – to see how they have been adopted in London.
There are some bright spots, but on the whole it’s clear that localism hasn’t taken hold in London to anywhere near the extent envisioned by Government. As fashioned by the Localism Act, these tools seem designed primarily for smaller, more homogenous areas than can be found in London.
Neighbourhood planning allows local people to draft a plan for their local area. The Community Right to Bid allows local people to identify buildings as assets of community value, which provides limited protections in case the owner decides to change use or demolish the building.
These are concepts with great potential, but that potential remains unrealised in the capital.
In the course of our investigation, we found that a third of London boroughs have no neighbourhood forums, only one successful plan has been introduced so far, and it is unlikely more than a handful of neighbourhood plans will be in place by the time of the next election. The picture is more positive when it comes to the Community Right to Bid, but many communities still find the process daunting and potentially expensive.
The Committee is keen to engage with Londoners to understand how we can help communities across the city use the legislation to be proactive in planning their local area and to protect valued community assets. That’s why the report concludes with a call for Londoners to get in touch to share their thoughts on how localism is shaping up on the ground in the capital, and what the GLA can do to better implement it.
You can read the report here.