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No. 33  November 2021
Neighbourhood planning has reached the milestone of 25 made plans since our last Bulletin. Succesful referendums have seen plans passed in:
  • Grove Park (91% for, 16% turnout)
  • Soho (Resident 91% for, 16% turnout; Business 87% for, 43% turnout)
  • Fitzrovia West (Resident 79% for, 10% turnout; Business 89% for, 39% turnout)
  • Queen's Park (91% for, 9% turnout)
Queen's Park is London's first (and only) neighbourhood plan to be prepared other than by a neighbourhood forum following the creation of Queen's Park Community Council in 2012 with the same powers as a parish council.

Neighbourhood plans have also been submitted and await Examination for Crofton Park and Honor Oak Park and Pimlico.

Congratulations to all involved.

More challenging have been set backs in the renewal of neighbourhood forums for:
  • Mill Hill - The neighbourhood forum has lapsed after Barnet Council refused to renew it in 2019 and efforts to designate a "new" Mill Hill Neighbourhood Forum faltered
  • Deptford - Lewisham Council has refused to renew Deptford Neighbourhood Action's five year term despite it having a ready to go plan (benefitting from c£100,000 funding through the Government's programme), support for its planning policies from local authoritiy officers and extensive evidence of wide public engagement
Spitalfields is also experiencing challenges. It is the first plan ever to have a split vote at referendum with residents voting in favour (54% for, 13% turnout) and businesses against (80% against, 67% turnout). This leaves Tower Hamlets with the final decision. Some of the campaigning tactics used to object to the plan have been more than controversial with claims they do not comply with electoral law (see this Twitter thread
Event for "advanced" neighbourhood forums - We are organising an online event for forums with made plans or which have reached the referendum stage. There will be contributions from Fitzrovia West, South Bank & Waterloo, Isle of Dogs and Central Ealing looking at the delivery of plans and how to sustain interest once a plan has been completed. The event will run on Zoom from 6-8pm on Tuesday 11 January. 
Gove puts new emphasis on "community" in planning reforms - Michael Gove set out some of his stall as the new Secretary of State for the renamed Department for Levelling Up Homes and Communities in a Select Committee appearance earlier this month. Invited to comment on the expected planning reforms he said "We want a planning system where people can feel confident that beauty is taken seriously, that the environment is benefiting, that the money will be there to support their infrastructure, and that ultimately the community has a role in determining what is right. What we want to do, and I think what everyone really wants to do, is make sure that in every part of the country there are up-to-date, thoughtful, sensitive plans that have the maximum amount of community buy-in." There is no news yet on the detail for neighbourhood planning.
Local voice growing in planning reforms - There is a growing expectation that the planning reforms will do more for the community. This could include strengthening neighbourhood plans and other proposals. Community focused thinking includes:
  • Street Votes - Policy Exchange and others are promoting the idea of street votes making decisions over new development at the very local level. Social Market Foundation has extended these ideas to allow communities around waste land to permit its development
  • Community Review - A growing number of local authorities are using community review to shape development proposals at pre-application stage. In London this includes Tower Hamlets, Southwark, Ealing and OPDC. A briefing on community review is available here 
  • Double Devolution - New Local has worked with new intake Tory MPs to produce a package of ideas for "community-powered conservatism", including "making neighbourhood planning universal and the ultimate arbiter of development". Read more here 
  • Community Stewardship - Localis's latest report is fulsome in its support for neighbourhood planning and backs creation of a "Capacity Fund" to support it
Paper Tigers - Statements of Community Involvement - Civic Voice has collaboated with the University of Reading to review the potential for Statements of Community Involvement (SCI) to achieve better civic engagement. Paper Tigers follows Neighbourhood Planners.London's 2018 research demonstrating how all but one London local planning authority fell short in meeting the legal requirement for SCIs to address neighbourhood planning.
Consultation on London Plan guidance begins - The first batch of guidance supporting the London Plan is out for consultation - covering Urban Greening Factor; Sustainable Transport, Walking & Cycling; and Air Quality. The consultation includes online events. Disappointingly the drafts perpetuate the view that only local planning authorities prepare statutory land use plans in the capital.  More guidance, including a replacement for the All London Green Grid, is expected next year.
Neighbourhood Planning Support Grant  - There is uncertainty over the future of the grants and technical support that underpin neighbourhood planning after March next year. The deadline for applications for funding to be used by end March is at the end of January. Beyond this Locality says "the DLUHC Neighbourhood Planning Team have been exploring the allocation of further funds for neighbourhood planning. As soon as possible but within the confines of this bigger process, the DLUHC  NP Team hope to be able to provide us with more certainty as to whether they are able to extend the neighbourhood planning support along current lines (an extension from April 2022 for at least a year)". We believe the supports needs to be both exapanded and reformed to meet the needs of neighbourhood planners and set out our views when the current four year programme was set up. We would welcome views on how the grants programme can be improved.
MAP and LIST - Thanks for all the feedback and update on the details provided on the Neighbourhood Planning MAP and LIST. Please check your own area and let us know if anything has changed, including contact details, social media, website and your progress with a plan.

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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