The Dash for Homes report on the environmental aspects of the mayor’s planning decisions was approved by the committee on Tuesday, March 28.

While the majority of planning decisions in the capital are made by borough council’s, not Ken Livingstone, large-scale strategic developments are the mayor’s responsibility (see related story).

The report takes a pragmatic stance and is sympathetic to the delicate balancing act the mayor must perform when meeting the demands for housing, other developments and the environment.

It recognises that there may be cases when developments are so important environmental standards must come second

But it does urge Mr Livingstone to clearly announce when other concerns have trumped environmental considerations and projects get the green light even if they fail to meet environmental criteria.

It also calls for a comprehensive checklist and staff training to ensure a consistent approach is taken when considering the environmental issues relating to new developments.

The political structure at City Hall means the mayor has executive powers and can choose to ignore the report should he wish, but this would come at the cost of isolating himself from the London Assembly which plays an important scrutiny role equivalent to that of backbenchers in Parliament.

“Our research indicates that there appears to be a noticeable improvement in the consideration of environmental issues as part of the strategic planning decisions referred to the mayor,” said Darren Jones (Green), chairman of the committee.

“However, we also found some planning decisions proceed despite not meeting all the mayor’s environmental objectives.

“We therefore call for the mayor to make it clear when he judges it is necessary to make a planning decision that forgoes environmental policy considerations in favour of others, for example social policy, and the basis for his decision.”

by Sam Bond

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