‘Neighbourhood planning gives communities direct power to develop a shared vision for their neighbourhood and shape the development and growth of their local area.’ (gov.uk)
Neighbourhood Planners London, is a volunteer initiative that was formed out of the emergence of neighbourhood planning in London. According to a recent study by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, more than 2000 communities across the UK are involved in neighbourhood planning, and more than 200 plans have been created with more progressing through to referendum. In contrast, a recent study by Publica showed that as of 2019, 12 Neighbourhood Plans had been made in London, four of which were created in the Borough of Camden. This raises questions about why the capital appears to be progressing at a different rate to the rest of the country. The Neighbourhood Planners London was formed to assist and support communities seeking to create one and to encourage neighbourhoods throughout London to take part.
Neighbourhood planning was introduced through the Localism Act 2011. This enables local communities to contribute in shaping the development of their areas through the formation of a Neighbourhood Plan. Local communities can either set planning policies that through a neighbourhood plan that forms part of the development plan used in determining planning applications or grant planning permission through Neighbourhood Development Orders and Community Right to Build Orders for specific development which complies with the order. The process involves submitting a draft plan to the Local Authority, the Local Planning Authority must then publicise the plan where public consultations take place, and it is then submitted for independent examination. If the neighbour plan complies with statutory requirements and is approved through a referendum, it can then be adopted by the Local Planning Authority.
The study also revealed that while the number of neighbourhood forums designated had declined, the number of neighbourhood plans is growing. The positive aspects to a Neighbourhood Plan is that it enables people to engage in the planning process, gives them a voice to how the envision their communities and how they want these spaces to develop over time. It encourages conversation, collaboration and developing relationships. However, a common challenges that can arise with is that they are entirely dependent on the work of volunteers and in some instances communities do not feel they have the support from the Council.
Mark is currently a Task Group Convener for the Norwood Planning Assembly helping to develop the Norwood Green Town Plan.