“Nothing about us, without us”. This seems particularly apt when introducing the concept of neighbourhood forums and plans. Although the Government clearly intended these to form part of their pro-development agenda and had in mind rural and suburban communities, we think we can use the legislation to defend and improve Highgate.
What is a neighbourhood forum?
The Localism Act, which was given Royal Assent in November 2011 and came into effect in April 2012. One of its provisions allows for the formation of neighbourhood forums to “further the social, economic and environmental well-being of individuals in a neighbourhood area” and/or to “promote the carrying on of trades, professions or other businesses in an area”
Why do we want a neighbourhood forum in Highgate?
We have found it’s a good idea to have a forum where people from across Highgate and from both Boroughs can come together to discuss issues which affect the area. Most importantly, it offers a democratic way for local residents to put together a Neighbourhood Plan – via the Forum and referendum – for the future development of the area. Once it has been adopted, the local authorities will be legally bound to put it into action. There are also exciting opportunities for neighbourhood forums to work pro-actively on developments, via Neighbourhood Development Orders or Community Right to Build Orders, when opportunities present themselves.
What’s happened so far?
The enabling regulations for the Localism Act were published in the Spring of 2012 and in December 2012 we were the first neighbourhood in both Camden and Haringey to be designated as a Neighbourhood Forum.
Ever since our Inaugural AGM – held on Tuesday, 29 May, 2012 – adopted our Constitution and elected our first Committee, we have been busy asking the people of Highgate what they think about our area. First, we delivered questionnaire leaflets to every household in Highgate and you can read a summary of the results here.
We did a “Placecheck” in September 2012.
We undertook community engagement with the Princes Foundation – read their final report here.
What happens next?
The fifty local residents writing our Neighbourhood Plan are in the final stages of bringing their work together. The first draft of the Plan will be scrutinised by our local Councils and then opened to consultation in January 2015. After that, the Draft Plan will be checked by an independent examiner before going to a referendum of local voters. Thereafter, we will be working with the Councils and other outside bodies, like Transport for London, to make our vision for Highgate a reality.
If you would like to hear more about developments do join our mailing list. If you would like to get more involved with the Forum or have questions or ideas do contact us directly.