More Power To The Mayor

Highlights of the Mayor of London's incoming development control powers

The legislation granting the Mayor of London significant additional development control powers received Royal Assent recently1. However, the relevant powers will not come into force until April 2008 at the earliest, and it is rumoured that this date may slip. This briefing summarises the key changes.

Current powers

Since July 2000, the Mayor has had the power to direct local planning authorities to refuse planning permission for developments of "potential strategic importance". Secondary legislation2 defines applications of potential strategic importance according to criteria including thresholds for floorspace, height or number of houses.

At the moment, the Mayor does not have the power to grant permission; the local authority remains the relevant planning authority for granting or refusing permission.

New powers

The Mayor will be able to direct that for an application of potential strategic importance he will become the local planning authority himself so will have the power to refuse or grant planning permission. He will have to give the developer and the local authority the opportunity to make oral representations, determine connected applications such as listed building consent, and negotiate and enter into related s106 planning obligations.

As before, the term "applications of potential strategic importance" will be defined by secondary legislation. The current draft3 contains broadly similar thresholds to those which currently apply, with key differences set out in the table below. However, the draft will be the subject of public consultation, so the thresholds may change.

Current thresholds

New draft thresholds

Development including more than 500 houses and/or flats or including houses or flats and occupying more than 10 hectares

Development including more than 150 houses and/or flats

City development with total floorspace over 30,000 sq m

City development with total floorspace over 100,000 sq m

City development over 75m high

City development over 150m high

If a development does not exceed these thresholds then the local planning authority will remain the sole determining planning authority.

The draft limits the circumstances in which the Mayor can exercise his new power. He...

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