The Mayor of London is asking for views on detailed planning strategies that he hopes will ensure that the area around Old Street can continue to thrive as the beating heart of London’s tech sector.
The capital is home to the biggest cluster of tech businesses in Europe. There are 34,400 digital technology businesses in the city and the sector employs more than 150,000 people.
The area around Old Street roundabout in Shoreditch is widely regarded as the spiritual home of London’s burgeoning tech sector, although the cluster now spreads as far as Wembley, Croydon and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
The Mayor has already designated the area around Old Street, known as the City Fringe, as an Opportunity area – meaning that is has the capacity for thousands of new homes and jobs.
He is now consulting on a technical planning document called the City Fringe Opportunity Area Planning Framework. This document examines how the planning system can maximise growth in the area and ensure there is a continuing supply of affordable workspace.
Sir Edward Lister, Deputy Mayor for Planning said:
“The tech scene in the area around Old Street is a significant driver of London’s economic prosperity with companies setting up in their droves to be a part of the tremendous mix of cost effective office space and the vibrant multicultural social scene. These detailed planning polices will help to ensure that the sector can continue to flourish in its traditional heartland for many years to come.”
London already has over 130 start-up friendly office spaces. The Framework calls on developers to ensure that new schemes continue to include affordable employment floorspace and provide assurances that the space will be managed post construction and not converted to another use.
It also aims to strike an appropriate balance between residential and commercial development and sets out policies that will ensure supporting uses such as leisure, retail and night-time economy needs are managed in a way that does not compromise the character of the area
The document also provides clarity on how the area will be increasingly well connected, particularly as Crossrail and Crossrail 2 develop. Levels of walking and cycling are already high in the area and it calls for developers to ensure there is sufficient parking space for bicycles.
The Mayor is also working to provide London businesses with the digital infrastructure they need to realise their full economic potential. The Framework discusses ways of improving affordable access to superfast connections for tech businesses.