Thames Landscape Strategy

Strategic Guidance and Development Control

A Framework for Landscape Planning and Management

The plethora of statutory agencies and authorities with responsibilities along the river through London and Surrey results in complicated systems of planning and management. This section summarises the framework within which the Thames Landscape Strategy operates, looking first at the GLA and local authorities, then at other statutory and non-statutory bodies.

Development along the Arcadian Thames

The Regional Planning Context

 The London Plan 2012 contains a comprehensive set of policies for the Blue Ribbon Network that includes the River Thames and other London waterways. Policy 7.29 encourages boroughs to identify Thames Policy Areas within their local plans (previously known as LDFs) and prepare detailed appraisals of their stretches of the river and its environs, and notes that the Thames Landscape Strategy Hampton to Kew fulfil  this role. Paragraph 7.93 suggests that strategies should be reviewed regularly and lists the matters which should be included:

  •  the local character of the river
  • water-based passenger and freight transport nodes (both existing and potential)
  • development sites and regeneration opportunities
  • opportunities for environmental and urban design improvements
  • sites of ecological or archaeological importance
  • areas, sites, buildings, structures, landscapes and views of particular
  • sensitivity and importance
  • focal points of public activity
  • public access
  • recreation and marine infrastructure
  • indicative flood risk.

In addition, paragraph 7.94 highlights that the strategies should also

  • identify areas of deficiency, and the actions needed to address these
  • deficiencies, through facilities for:
  • water-based passenger, tourism and freight transport
  • water-based sport and leisure
  • access and safety provision
  • marine support facilities and infrastructure and moorings.

Paragraph 7.95 sets out that the Thames strategies should be used as guidance for LDFs and development control decisions. They also include specific implementation projects for local authorities and other organisations in a position to implement river-related projects. They should also be used to identify important riverside sites and determine the river-related expectations for them. As such the strategies should be expressed through DPD policies or SPD as appropriate.

 The Surrey bank of the river between Hampton and Weybridge is located in Elmbridge Borough. The Elmbridge Local Plan’s Core Strategy policy CS 12 provides the strategic policy framework for the River Thames Corridor and its tributaries up until 2026.

Local Authorities

The local authorities are the principal planning authorities in the Strategy area with responsibility for land use planning

and building control. The authorities are the:

  • Elmbridge Borough Council;
  • London Borough of Hounslow;
  • London Borough of Richmond upon Thames;
  • Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames

 In 1994, it was envisaged that the TLS would be adopted as Supplementary Planning Guidance by the four boroughs and although only Richmond and Hounslow did so the Strategy has been used extensively to shape planning outcomes in Elmbridge and Kingston.  In the absence of any statutory status much of the Strategy’s strength has come from the community support the Strategy receives based on a robust character study and a track record of achievement. Over time many of the Strategy’s recommendations have been incorporated into local and regional plans or are included in national agency guidelines.

The four TLS Boroughs all now have strong policies with respect to development adjoining the riverside and the protection of views, which post date, take account of and refer to the TLS. Much of the riverside is within various conservation areas, which have their own studies/appraisals.  This mechanism was reinforced during the preparation of the Review following advice from the GLA and GOL who both recommended that the TLS Review should provide the evidence base for the development of policies and plans (for the river corridor) by each of the constituent boroughs, rather than being taken forward as a supplementary or policy document in its own right. It was still nevertheless felt useful to set TLS guidance and projects for the river corridor as a whole, grouped together in one coordinated document.

 The TLS and its Review will be used as a material consideration by the local planning authorities. Planning and other key policies relevant to the TLS are as follows:

  • National Policy – National Planning Policy Framework
  • Regional Policy – GLA London Plan and supporting SPG
  • Local Policy – Borough Local Plans – Local
  • Development Frameworks (include Core Policies,
  • Development Management Plans, Area Action Plans,
  • Site Allocation Plans) and saved Unitary Development Plans
  • Supplementary Planning Documents
  • Neighbourhood Plans
  • Other Statutory and Non-statutory Bodies

The TLS takes account of and should inform any updates to policy and guidance documents from partner statutory and non-statutory organisations:

jason debney and Boris Johnson

Development Control and Planning Applications: A Guide to Using the TLS

The greatest strength of the Thames Landscape Strategy comes from the groundswell of support that the TLS receives and the partnership of riparian organisations, local groups and friends.  The TLS works through this partnership to inform strategic policy and to ensure that the aims of the Strategy are implemented on the ground.

The TLS as an organisation does comment on individual planning applications but only to remind the relevant local planning authority of any TLS guidance that may be applicable.  The TLS constitution does not allow for the TLS to interpret its guidance and to provide any more information than is supported by the TLS Review.  The TLS as an organisation cannot support or object to any given application.

The Thames Landscape Strategy is however, a public document that has a high degree of support, a robust evidence base and has undergone considerable consultation.  Anyone can use the Thames Landscape Strategy to support or to object to a planning application or policy proposal.   Simply follow the links to the Thames Landscape Strategy Review and use whatever section/s you feel may support your case.  There is strength in numbers – so if you feel that a particular TLS section is particularly helpful please do pass on the right information.

Download the guidance document TLS and Development control