It's day nine of our festive blog series: The Mayor of London published supplementary planning guidance last month, aiming to protect and enhance cultural venues across the capital and promote the night-time economy, and the draft revised London Plan could put this on a policy footing.
In the SPG the Mayor states that he wants to "make London the world's leading city for nightlife".
London already has the Night Tube, which the guidance suggests could add £77m a year to London's economy by 2029, so it makes great economic sense to encourage the night-time offerings – a fact that isn’t wasted on the Mayor. The current news isn't all good, however, as the number of nightclubs, pubs, and live music venues in London has fallen considerably over recent years.
The guidance states that planning decisions should "protect valued social, recreational and cultural facilities and services. They should ensure these facilities can develop and modernise, and are kept for community benefit." The SPG is a material consideration which can be taken into account in determining planning application, although it is not a policy in itself.
In the draft revised London Plan, published for consultation at the end of November, the Mayor states that he is keen to promote London as a 24-hour global city. He proposes a policy requiring boroughs to "promote the night-time economy, where appropriate, particularly in the Central Activities Zone, strategic areas of night-time activity, town centres". If adopted, this would put protection of the entertainment industry on a much stronger footing in the planning process.
Showing how the planning system can help to provide, or retain, night-time venues, one planning application in particular has hit the headlines recently: councillors at London Borough of Tower Hamlets have voted in favour of plans to convert the former Joiners Arms into residential apartments, but subject to a requirement that a late-night LGBT venue is also provided. The authority recognised London's loss of many LGBT venues over the last decade and the benefit that such a venue could bring to a community.
The Mayor is expected to take his current guidance further in 2018, when he is due to publish a Culture Infrastructure Plan, setting out how London's venues, places and spaces will be supported and sustained.
Outside London, the NPPF contains a useful reference to the requirement to "plan positively for…cultural places, public houses…" (para 70) and many local plans will contain more direct policies aimed at protecting nightclubs and similar.
See our full series of festive blogs here.