ADD2001 Review of the London Plan in relation to Nature Conservation

Type of decision: 
Assistant Director's decision
Date signed: 
03 June 2016
Decision by: 
Stewart Murray, Assistant Director of Planning

Executive summary

Agreement to procure and commission a consultancy study to review and update the Sites of Metropolitan Importance of Nature conservation (SMIs) in the London Plan.  These are the top tier of nature conservation sites that are identified under the guidance provided by London Plan Policy 7.19.  This policy indicates that SMIs are identified jointly by the Mayor and the London Boroughs.  These sites have not been reviewed since 2002 and the forthcoming review of the London Plan provides the appropriate opportunity to undertake the update.

Reviewing the network of sites of importance for nature conservation fulfils a requirement of the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework.  The study will inform the forthcoming review of the London Plan, borough local plans and Opportunity Area Planning Frameworks. 



That the Assistant Director of Planning approves expenditure of up to a total of £50,000 to procure specialist environmental services by competitive tender to undertake the review of Sites of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation. 


Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

1.1    This is a new study, unrelated to any other current approvals, seeking a budget up to £50,000.  Central Government issues advice to plan-making authorities, this includes the Mayor of London, via the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).   The framework sets out policy guidance to not only protect, but improve the network of sites of nature conservation importance.  As a first step it is necessary to survey the existing network of metropolitan sites to ensure they still merit protection as sites of London-wide importance (NPPF paragraphs 109, 113 and 114).

1.2    There is a hierarchy of nature conservation sites – local, borough and metropolitan sites.  Metropolitan sites are the most important in terms of their nature conservation value.  When London boroughs update their local plans they are required to update the sites of local and borough importance.  As the metropolitan sites are of strategic importance, it is for the Mayor/Greater London Authority to support the boroughs in reviewing and updating this part of the network.  The sites have not been reviewed since 2002 when work was undertaken to inform policy for the first London Plan.  It is appropriate that for the forthcoming review of the London Plan the network of metropolitan sites is reconsidered.

Objectives and expected outcomes

2.1     Consultants are required to prepare a review of the Sites of Metropolitan Importance for nature conservation, recommending additions/deletions to the network as appropriate.  The outcome will be a robust study that can be used to inform protection/enhancement of  the network of sites in the forthcoming review of the London Plan and demonstrate that the Mayor’s approach is authoritative at an examination in public. 


Equality comments

3.1     This work is not expected to have any direct equality impacts.  Ensuring the SMI network is up to date and properly identified in Borough planning frameworks ensures all Londoners have access to open space and high quality natural environments.


Other considerations

a) key risks and issues 
4.1     The contract will be managed in line with standard GLA risk management procedures. If the work is not commissioned it is possible that the forthcoming review of the London Plan will fail to comply with the requirements of the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework. 
b) links to Mayoral strategies and priorities 
4.2     This study is to provide evidence and direction for a specific land use, which will inform the implementation and review of the London Plan. It will support London boroughs in the preparation of Local Plans and partnership working by the GLA, boroughs and others in developing Opportunity Area Planning Frameworks.
c) impact assessments and consultations
4.3      Impact assessments are carried out as part of the preparation of reviews and alterations to the London Plan. Consultation on the project specification has taken place within the GLA between the Environment Team (Urban Greening) and with the Planning Team (London Plan).


Financial comments

5.1    Approval is sought for expenditure of up to £50,000 to procure consultants to undertake a review of     Sites of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation.  The cost will be met from Planning’s     London Plan 2016-17 Programme Budget. 

5.2    All the delivery and spend will take place within 2016-17.

Planned delivery approach and next steps



Procurement of contract

June 2016

Delivery Start Date

July 2016

Delivery End Date

October 2016

Project Closure:

October 2016


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