London deputy mayor Sir Simon Milton said a new era of 'realism' was needed in the planning system as London's property market adapts to the downturn.

He said that city hall would seek planning improvements to encourage and speed up development in London.

Milton said it was part of wider initiative to encourage London development which would also seek to find new methods of funding for development finance and transport infrastructure.

He said Boris Johnson did not foresee a recession when campaigning for mayor but his reactive policies would help London through the downturn.

'London's economy is vast and highly specialised...but we do have to change with the recession and we are taking the necessary short term measures to ease London through this downturn.'

He was speaking at the BPF property conference today and said London faced three key challenges which are population growth, economic competitiveness and climate change.