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Building Competences for Spatial Planners



Sources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . reading material/ case study
In Focus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . top-level issues and questions
Evidence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . findings from the case study
Challenges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . methodological queries



The London Plan presents the spatial development strategy for Greater London. The consultation draft replacement plan (below) is a comprehensive volume of almost three hundred pages. The text is easy to read, and is accompanied by useful illustrations.


Although the London Plan is a comprehensive document, it is articulated with the Mayor's Transport Strategy and the Economic Development Strategy. Thus, ideally it should be studied in conjunction with the other two documents.


There are also other related plans, such as the environmental programme Leading to a Greener London and The London Housing Strategy.


It is a good idea to consult important support documents such as the Economic Evidence Base, the Greater London Authority Act, and the Integrated Impact Assessment.

In Focus

Task N Technique X Element K (of the plan) Task N then Task N+1 then etc

  • What are the elements of the plan (e.g. objectives, action)?
  • Which tasks were set to produce these elements?
  • Which techniques were employed?
  • What is described in the planning methodology?
  • What is the sequence of the planning tasks?
  • Which resources (HR, money, time) were used for each task?


  • Elements of the London Plan include vision, objectives, and policies (divided in strategic, planning decisions, LDF preparation)
  • While most of the tasks for instance, communicating the vision, objectives, and policies are implicit in the London Plan, Chapter 8 is about methodology regarding implementation, monitoring and review
  • Techniques employed in the creation of the London Plan are implicit in the volume; 'non-declared' techniques for instance, employed in the presentation of the intended outcomes regarding space can be identified through the output of the respective task for instance, maps
  • Besides Chapter 8, the London Plan does not include methodological provisions regarding planning tasks and techniques and even so, the volume does not get very technical
  • The London Plan follows the broad methodological provisions of the GLA Act for a (democratic) planning process based on proposals, consultations, and revisions (§41 and §340) In contrast to the London Plan, the Integrated Impact Assessment report contains a full methodology for its own scope of tasks including their sequence with references to the techniques used


Even well-prepared planning proposals such as the London Plan may not satisfy everyone's wishes whether in content or methodology. Regarding the latter, here are some challenges:

  • Compatibility is highlighted in the LGA Act. Are all the policies of the London Plan compatible among themselves, and with the related documents? How can we check in either case? Can we just use techniques from the IIA report?
  • Is it clear how the policies were conceived? Could this be important for instance, to check for bias or verify the reasoning? Idem for the vision and objectives.
  • What is the evidence that the proposed plan will succeed?
  • How are (performance) indicators used in the London Plan?
  • Would you include a full and formal methodology regarding planning tasks, their sequence, and associated techniques in a section of the plan or in an accompanying document?

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