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    Bulletin
No. 32  August 2021
NEIGHBOURHOOD PLANNING COMES OF AGE IN LONDON
21 neighbourhood plans now in force

There has been a flurry of succesful referendums in London following the easing of lockdown restrictions and neighbourhood plans have recently been made in Camley Street (90% for, 7.2% against, 30.8% turnout), Isle of Dogs (86%, 14%, 38%) , Redington Frognal (88%, 12%, 19.2%) and West Finchley (83%, 17%, 28.6%). Congratulations to all involved. Next up are Grove Park on 26 August and Soho and Fitzrovia West on 2 September. As business neighbourhoods both Soho and Fitzrovia West will involve a separate referendum of businesses.  We've updated the MAP and LIST with all the latest information. Let us know what we've missed.
Conference venue needed - We're looking for an affordable (or free!) venue to hold our next Neighbourhood Planners.London conference in October/November. It needs to accomodate up to 130, provide basic audio visual resources and be easily accessible by public transport. Do you have a church or community hall or similar in your neighbourhood which we can use? Drop us a line at info@neighbourhoodplanners.london if you can help.
Forum update - Neighbourhood forums across the capital continue to get their five year terms renewed - Spitalfields is among the latest. Others have reached that key public consultation phase, including Roman Road Bow while early interest is now being shown in Ilford South (looking for volunteers), Feltham and Charlton. It looks as though Kennington, Oval and Vauxhall is revisiting its submitted plan following redesignation. Let us know if you have other news.
Wimbledon faces headwinds - Despite an unprecedented 1,100 representations in support of PlanWimbledon's application for a Forum and Area to be agreed it has been rejected by Merton Council. In the face of resistance from the local Chamber of Commerce and BID Merton has concluded that the Forum "is not drawn from different sections of the community". Contrary to the Localism Act which requires a neighbourhood area to be designated even if the boundary is different to that applied for, Merton Council also determined not to designate a neighbourhood area. It is known the Wimbledon BID has ideas for its own neighbourhood area. Merton remains one of London's "deserts" where no Forums or areas exist.
A new NPPF - All neighbourhood plans must "have regard" to national planning policy so the publication of a new National Planning Policy Framework is a big deal for neighbourhood planners. It impacts immediately on all Basic Conditions statements. The new NPPF confirms the continuing importance of neighbourhood plans (including a new emphasis on their role in allocating small and medium sized sites for new housing) alongside important changes. These include making "beauty" a social objective of planning, putting an emphasis on "place", introducing the UN Sustainable Development Goals into planning policy, putting an emphasis on local preferences on character & design and requiring new streets to be tree-lined.
Office for Place - The Government has launched Office for Place as part of its programme for "enhancing beauty, quality and environmental standards by giving communities control over what is built in their areas". It is led by Nicholas Boys-Smith who spoke at our last Virtual Gathering. We have already emphasised the importance of providing direct support to communities, including those neighbourhood planning. The launch can be viewed here.
National Model Design Code launched - The long promised National Model Design Code accompanied the new NPPF, providing "detailed guidance on the production of design codes, guides and policies to promote successful design". It is intended to support local planning authorities produce design codes and guides and will need to be taken into account when making planning decisions where this has not been done.
Planning reforms to make neighbourhood planning "ubiquitous- Neighbourhood planning is beginning to feature more strongly in the Government's planning reforms as they face strong political resistance for reducing the public's voice in planning decisions. Robert Jenrick has told Parliament "We are going to ensure that neighbourhood plans have more teeth and that more of them happen across the country, not just in the most engaged and well-heeled places. We will ensure that they become ubiquitous and a key part of the planning system". Drawing on our evidence the Commons HCLG Select Committee concluded "We recognise the value of neighbourhood plans...The Government should consider how to make neighbourhood planning more relevant to local people & how to ensure that residents feel empowered to both contribute to and own the plan". We contributed to a briefing to MHCLG from many engaged in neighbourhood planning which can be found as part of this article.
Engaging communities - The continuing interest in how best to engage local communities in planning has generated two new guides. Locality's Engaging with your community in a meaningful way is aimed at neighbourhood planners while Grosvenor's Positive Space in Practice is a more general guide drawing on practitioner experience. Collective Community Action has published a Mayoral Statement of Community Involvement targeted at London's Mayor.
"Made" plans get together - There is growing interest in a get together to share experience between those London neighbourhood forums with neighbourhood plans in force. This number is growing. If you are interested and have ideas on what might be covered or want to volunteer to make a contribution then let us know at info@neighbourhoodplanners.london.
Virtual Gathering on design - Anticipating the Government's focus on the design of new development and the role of design codes we organised a Virtual Gathering on the issues raised last March. It included a keynote from Office for Place's Nicholas Boys-Smith (generating this media interest) and heard from four neighbourhood forums (Fitzrovia West, Redington Frognal, Camley Street & Isle of Dogs) with advanced neighbourhood plans. The Virtual Gathering can be watched here.
First Homes launched - Details of the Government's "preferred discounted market tenure" for affordable homes have been launched with a target that they should comprise at least 25% of all affordable housing units. First Homes must be discounted by at least 30% against the market and not be sold for more than £420,000 in London. Neighbourhood plans can alter this price cap "if they can demonstrate a need for this" having regard to local income levels as they relate to local house prices and mortgage requirements. More details here.
Town Centres and High Streets - Centre for London has published a report emphasising the role of local communities in revitalising the high street. Community Town Centres supports new governance structures while identifying difficulties with neighbourhood planning down to local authority resistance. This draws on our Designation Decisions research.
Borough funding  - The Government's leading initiative for supporting the uptake of neighbourhood planning provides funding for local planning authorities and not neighbourhood planners. The £2.1m programme aims to support 40-50 local authorities. The deadline for applications had to be extended which is usually an indication of low take up. We have pressed the case for such initiatives to be open to neighbourhood forums directly.
More Borough funding  - The latest information on the funding received by local planning authorities for supporting neighbourhood planning shows them receiving £20k per referendum and an additional £5k for up to five forums or areas being designated. An extra £10k is available to cover business referendums.
Neighbourhood planning but not as we know it - Up to 10 local authorities are being invited to join a pilot "to help establish and explore the idea of a simpler kind of neighbourhood planning that works alongside or as a precursor to a full Neighbourhood Plan". Critically, the pilot involves an approach which doesn't allocate sites or include planning policies, raising questions as to whether it is truly neighbourhood planning. It has echoes of old style parish plans which were replaced by neighbourhood plans to give them some teeth.
Mayor launches Planning London Datahub - It is now possible to get access to a live open data set of planning applications in Greater London via the Mayor's new Planning London Datahub. This replaces the former London Development Database which only held information on planning permissions. It sits alongside the Planning London DataMap providing (not always up to date) details of planning and other policy constraints.
Site viability - The Neighbourhood Planning Support Programme run by Locality now offers technical support on site viability intended to help Forums bringing forward development proposals on specific sites to "understand the viability of your proposed development scheme".
Neighbourhood Plans and post-pandemic recovery - New London Architecture is looking for examples of projects demonstrating "innovative approaches to rethinking local places across London" as part of new research into post-pandemic recovery. Neighbourhood forums are well placed to contribute with examples of what neighbourhood planning is achieving. 
MAP and LIST - View the latest Neighbourhood Planning MAP and LIST with all the recent updates. Check your own area and let us know if anything has changed.
Thanks to Graham - Graham Pycock has stepped down as a Convenor of Neighbourhood Planners.London. We have benefited hugely from his drive, knowledge and enthusiasm and all neighbourhood planners owe him a debt of thanks. Do get in touch if you are interested in getting involved with Neighbourhood Planners.London. We are always looking for new ideas and volunteers. 
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Neighbourhood Planners.London exists to support neighbourhood planners in London and raise the profile of neighbourhood planning in the capital.  Support us by offering your time or making a donation. You can find out more on our website, contact us by email or get involved on twitter using the links above.
 
This Bulletin is produced by Tony Burton on behalf of Neighbourhood Planners.London - we welcome feedback and please let us know of any errors






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