Concerned about new developments expanding into Green Belt areas in Bromley? Would you like public spaces and streets that are safer for walking and cycling? Or maybe you are worried about whether we are doing enough about air pollution or responding to the climate crisis? Have your say by responding to Bromley Council’s consultation on the borough’s Local Plan.

We will be making a submission, and we strongly encourage you to make one too. The Local Plan has a big influence on the types of residential and commercial development we see in Bromley, where they are located in existing built-up areas or the Green Belt, and how they support active travel (or not).

Bromley Council has launched an Issues and Options consultation as part of a process to review and update the borough’s Local Plan. The consultation is open until 30 June 2023.
Overview of the review process and how to respond
Issues and Options draft document

This post provides a quick explainer on the Local Plan and how you can submit, concluding with a summary of the issues we would like Bromley’s Local Plan to focus on.

Overview:
What is the Local Plan?
Why is the Local Plan being updated now?
I want to respond to the Issues and Options consultation. Where do I start?
What would we like to see in Bromley’s Local Plan?

What is the Local Plan? In simple terms, the Local Plan sets guidance and requirements for commercial, residential, industrial or mixed-use developments in Bromley. The Local Plan spans a range of issues, from housing, heritage and education to conservation and social infrastructure. Compliance with the Local Plan means that developments are delivering housing or commercial buildings that are safe, sustainable and appropriate to meet local needs. For example, the current Local Plan has requirements for new developments to provide car parking in areas with limited public transport, to install or upgrade drainage systems if they are located in a flood risk area, to minimise impacts on local biodiversity, and ensure that the design of buildings fit with the local character of an area. Some parts of the borough, such as Bromley Town Centre and Orpington, have dedicated Supplementary Planning Documents that extend on the Local Plan.

It’s important to remember that the Local Plan is a tool to guide and regulate new property developments, not an overall plan for the borough’s transport infrastructure, green spaces or high streets. The Local Plan also has to follow national and London-wide planning policies, such as the National Planning Policy Framework and the London Plan.

Why is the Local Plan being updated now? Local Plans must be updated every five years to respond to changes to national and regional planning policies and reflect the local council’s evolving priorities.
– The National Planning Policy Framework, updated in 2021, has stronger requirements to protect and enhance the natural environment and biodiversity, increase protection against flood risk, improve the design quality and beauty of new developments, and deliver well-designed walking and cycling networks.
– The London Plan, also updated in 2021, introduces requirements to improve air quality, reduce construction emissions and carbon emissions across the whole life cycle of new developments.

As suggested by the name, the Issues and Options consultation focuses on higher-level goals and the scope of the Local Plan. It does not propose specific rules or regulations, these will come later.

The Issues and Options document, and the list of consultation questions, are very long. Where do I even start? We agree! Here are some tips on how to make sense of the consultation document and give feedback without having to spend many hours working through the consultation document and questions.

  1. You don’t have to answer all of the survey questions. Focus on the issues that are most important to you. For example, if you are mainly worried about the design quality of new developments, focus on the proposed changes and consultation questions under Housing and Design and Conservation. If you are more concerned about new developments on protected land in the Green Belt, focus on Green Infrastructure, Open Space and Biodiversity. Although Bromley Council has provided an online survey, you don’t actually have to use this to make your submission. You can also submit a letter or email to ldf@bromley.gov.uk, or addressed to: Head of Planning Policy and Strategy, London Borough of Bromley, Civic Centre, Stockwell Close, Bromley BR1 3UH.
  2. Consider what might be missing from the Local Plan’s goals or policies. For the Issues and Options consultation, it’s important to highlight what is missing as a key issue or goal, as well as giving feedback on what is currently in the document. For example, you might want a stronger focus on climate resilience and mitigation within the Local Plan’s vision and objectives; more detailed policies to ensure the borough’s housing, transport and public spaces are designed to support an ageing population; or maybe you think the evidence used to inform the current plan are inadequate, and you’d like the Council to collect new types of evidence.

What would we like to see in the Bromley Local Plan?
As a local chapter of Living Streets, a charity which has campaigned for everyday walking and road safety since 1929, we have a vision for Bromley to become one of the best places in London for walking:

  • The current hierarchy of street use needs changing, to prioritise walking and cycling and ensure that the needs of disadvantaged groups like the elderly, disabled and ethnic minorities are recognised.
  • We need to take responsibility for cleaning up our air and adapting to a net-zero carbon future. Enabling more walking for everyday travel is a critical way to reduce air pollution and carbon emissions.
  • Reducing the dominance of vehicle traffic by using street space differently, allowing other uses such as parklets, green infrastructure, play streets, walking and cycling infrastructure, delivered to the highest design standards.
  • Reduced motor traffic speeds.
  • Keeping streets clean and footpaths free of clutter.
  • Promoting new ways to get around, such as car clubs, shared ownership of vehicles and cargo bikes.

To help achieve this vision, our submission to the Issues and Options Consultation will focus on the following areas: