The Highgate Neighbourhood Plan is a long and complicated document, which has to be written in “planning speak” as it will – if passed at Referendum – become the the planning regulations for Highgate. What follows is, hopefully, a clear summary of its contents. You can read the full Plan here and find out about voting here.
The Forum’s Vision for Highgate can be summed up by its final paragraph:
Our Vision is for Highgate to be a vibrant place with a strong sense of community that protects its unique character and heritage, while embracing fresh ideas and beneficial change.
There are five sections of policies:
• Social and Community
• Economic Activity
• Traffic and Transport
• Open Spaces and Public Realm
• Development and Heritage
These can only address the development and use of land but wider community aspirations, such as promoting walking, cycling and public transport use, are addressed in the community actions at the end of each section – a number of these are already in train e.g. campaigning on air quality, signage, more bike parking stations and cycle routes, lobbying for new east-west buses, tree monitoring etc.
Social and Community policies:
1. SC1 addresses Highgate’s housing needs: prioritising affordable housing, particularly to allow ‘downsizing’ and to provide products aimed at first time buyers
2. SC2 lists the Forum’s priorities for spending Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) monies (these were voted on by the community during consultation on the draft plan).
3. SC3 protects the area’s allotments and encourages the creation of more “communal garden land”.
Economic Activity policies:
These address the needs of Highgate’s three commercial cores: Highgate Village, Archway Road and Aylmer Parade. They analyse each in turn and provide policies to encourage the vitality and viability of each.
Traffic and Transport policies:
promote sustainable development,
control the movement of heavy goods vehicles,
minimise the impact of traffic,
reduce the negative impact of parking on Highgate
and prevent further dropped kerbs and cross-overs.
Open Space and Public Realm policies:
• Protect views and settings of our major open spaces
• Protect trees and mature vegetation
• Designate 11 protected “Local Green Spaces”, including our allotment sites, Southwood Lane Wood and the Holly Lodge Gardens. The Independent Examiner said ”this policy will give significant benefit to the community and will assist nature conservation”.
• Sets out “Highgate’s Green Grid” (mapped ecological corridors)
Development and Heritage policies:
Eleven policies which set out to encourage development that seeks to preserve and, wherever possible, enhance the unique and historic character of Highgate. These range from detailed policies on matters such as roof extensions and refuse storage to measures to enhance the conservations areas and protect the environmental health of residents.
In particular, they include a groundbreaking new policy on basements, which has led to both Camden and Haringey changing their directives on basement developments to include enhanced Impact Assessment requirements (i.e. damage to adjacent properties, flooding risk etc), protection for neighbours, limiting environmental impacts and working hours.
The Neighbourhood Plan also identifies five Key Sites
These are sites that are likely to see development proposals during the lifetime of the Plan and so the community wishes to make sure it has influence on how these sites might be developed.
KS1 and KS4: 460-470 Archway Road and 40 Muswell Hill Road have potential for housing (in line with policy SC1 above).
KS2: The policy for Former Highgate Station Buildings sets out the sensitive reuse of the existing locally listed station buildings and platforms for the provision of a mix of flexible community and educational uses. Proposed uses must protect the MOL and SINC designations and have no adverse impact on the amenity of local residents.
KS3: The Plan sets out, for the first time, a framework for development around the historic Highgate Bowl. It makes a distinction between the built up Duke’s Head and Townsend yards and Broadbent Close and the Bowl itself, the large stretch of historic open land which includes the old garden centre and the Harington scheme. It states that the main body of the site should be protected as publicly accessible open space. By contrast the yards could be considered as having potential for low-rise development, provided the open character of the Bowl was maintained.
KS5: The Examiner accepted the Forum’s arguments to include a minimum of 16 affordable units should redevelopment take place at the Gonnermanns/Goldsmiths Court site on the corner of Archway Road and Shepherds Hill.