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Introducing the new London Plan

12 Sep 2018


The recent public consultation on the new London Plan revealed the cost of carbon offset payments is set to increase by over 50%, with other significant changes to the London Plan that are likely to have considerable impact on the design of future developments in the capital.

Driving energy efficiency standards above and beyond those set by the building regulations, London has always been at the forefront of sustainable design in the UK. Since its first introduction in 2004, The London Plan has helped shape the future of sustainable development in the capital and has been used by every London Mayor to provide guidance and direction to the individual Boroughs. Over this time, The London Plan has seen several revisions, with the standards outlined gradually becoming more stringent where energy efficiency is concerned; something that is due to become even more challenging with the next revision in late 2019/ early 2020.

What’s changing in the new London Plan?

The current version of the London Plan requires all new build major developments to reduce their carbon emissions by 35% over the Building Regulations baseline and achieve the Zero Carbon standard on residential developments. In addition, developers also need to consider district heating, renewable energy, acoustic and air quality concerns, along with broader sustainability issues, such as water consumption and overheating risk. These current standards are certainly no walk in the park, so what impact are the proposed changes likely to have?

The Greater London Authority recently consulted on its proposals for the new London Plan and although the consultation itself was high level, there were some energy and sustainability highlights that are set to change.

Here’s the 9 highlights for energy and sustainability that you need to know:

  • A minimum carbon reduction target to be met through efficient building fabric only
  • A new heating hierarchy, encouraging zero emission solutions for energy supply
  • Increased emphasis on air quality constraints and how this will affect your energy strategy
  • Consideration for energy storage to reduce reliance on the national grid
  • Requirement for all non-domestic developments to meet Zero Carbon
  • Significant increase in the cost of carbon, increased carbon offset payments by over 50%
  • Energy monitoring post-occupation
  • Consideration to future-proofing towards on-site Zero Carbon
  • Life cycle carbon analysis on GLA referable developments

These changes amount to a considerable impact on not only the design of your development, but also on the cost. With a scheduled introduction of 2019/ 2020, these standards could well apply to your next development, especially if you’re expecting a long lead-time on land purchase and planning submission. While there are still plenty of unknowns and missing details at this stage, the Examination in Public, scheduled for Winter 2018/early Spring 2019, should fill in some of this detail.

What can you do?

In the meantime, it’s important to be aware of the potential future requirements and, most importantly, the costs associated with the new London Plan. With some of the key highlights for energy and sustainability set to have a considerable impact, what can you do now to prepare and help reduce future costs?

Our team of Technical Specialists work on major London schemes daily and with a thorough understanding of the public consultation are identifying potential solutions now for the latest set of challenges. Over the coming weeks we will explore the changes in more detail with a focus on how the new London Plan will affect you and the new cost of Zero Carbon.

If you would like to understand what these changes will mean for you, then contact our team of specialists who will be happy to help.


Please note: This article was updated on 2 November 2018 to reflect additional guidance issued.

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Stuart Clark



Stuart Clark