Out of interest, has anyone got the ball rolling to create a Harringay Neighbourhood Forum in line with the Localism Act? Or perhaps an existing organisation is putting itself forward for the role (as the Highgate Society are doing)? There are a couple of such initiatives west of the tracks, and I'm curious who else is doing so locally.
None that I know of but "localism" is a feature of the Downhills Primary School's current campaign against forced academies which may help get it rolling.
For those who may not be aware of what neighbourhood forums are:
The Localism Bill passed last year states that a neighbourhood forum should be a group of at least 21 local people. It provides for both resident- and business-led neighbourhood forums.
The forums will have the same powers and the same overall purpose. They can be set up for "the express purpose of promoting or improving the social, economic and environmental well-being of an area...whether or not it is also established for the express purpose of promoting or carrying on of trades, profesions or other businesses".
They are a prerequisite for residents to take advantage of the new neighbourhood planning provisions.
A simple guide to the Localism Act is attached.
Hugh's (well Greg Clark's) attachment does give a potted guide to 'Localism', but it is not very clear on the forum concept. The word forum appears only once and the context is :
"Neighbourhood planning will allow communities to come together through a local parish council or neighbourhood forum and say where they think new houses, businesses and shops should go – and what they should look like.
These neighbourhood development plans could be very simple, or go into considerable detail where people want. Local communities would also be able to grant full or outline planning permission in areas where they most want to see new homes and businesses, making it easier and quicker for development to go ahead"
When I look at the constitution of the quarterly local meetings set up across Haringey I can see that that they consist of two parts - An Area Forum (open to participation by members of the public, i.e. non-councillors) and an Area Committee ( a formally constituted council body). One of the duties of the Committee is to develop an Area Committee Plan.
So I wonder, is this Area Forum actually the Neighbourhood Forum by a very slightly different name. Certainly in my area it achieves the necessary 21 quorum. If these were the same thing, then the Area Plan would belong to the Forum part of this meeting of two halves, where at present it belongs to the Committee part.
If the Area Forum is not the Neighbourhood Forum, then is the existence of the Area Forum just a confusion for us. Should the two things be one and the same?
As far as I understand it area forums in Haringey, and elsewhere, are essentially part of the council's communications and consultation process. There is no binding democratic basis to them.
The idea of the new neighbourhood forums is to place real, albeit very limited, power directly in the hands of local people; the logic being that local people are best placed to be the champions of their neighbourhood. However, they come with real responsibilities.
In any given area there is a range of pros and cons. Nationally, some commentators are concerned that neighbourhood forums will work well for affluent areas and will face real challenges in the areas that perhaps need them most.
Indeed. But it's worth noting that neighbourhood forums still have to abide by national and local planning legislation, and the frameworks already in place. The NF do not exclude or override statutory comments. As someone who works in planning, I can say that we're not very sure how this idea will pan out, other than more work for planning officers!
But certainly worth a go - anything that brings the interest of the residents into consideration is a good thing.
People may wish no note this evolving map, which depicts Neighbourhood Forum intiatives in the area (that I know of) and their proposed borders (subject to consultation).
Useful. Thanks Arkady. I hadn't realised there were so many local initiatives.
This is a fascinating map, I'm pleased you've published it, thank you. Is there a single source for the information or have you had to glean it from various different places.
It puts me in mind of the wild west, as the prospectors staked their claims, wherever they thought they might strike lucky, perhaps looking for a rich mother lode of democracy. It all seems tremendously ad hoc, with non-contiguous neighbourhoods, and others extending for miles into areas with no residents. The "Crouch Hill NF" actually only uses Crouch Hill as a boundary on one edge for about third of the length of that road. Maybe the authors of localism were hoping for everyone to set off in all directions at once on the principle of divide and conquer. I'm wondering if I could set up a "Shall we have one down our street NF" or "Here's a bit of Hampstead heath no-one's bagged yet NF".
Is there somewhere set out the process whereby "(subject to consultation)" becomes finalised?
Glad you asked.
Once the the Bill became an Act in November, significant numbers of individuals and groups began to realise that it had the potential to be quite significant. Maybe very significant. The removal of stacks of regulation makes development much easier, indeed permission is presumed as long as it does not contradict national legislation, the London plan, or borough plans. So creating a Neighbourhood Plan could be important. There are other interesting things about it too, but the link above explains that better than I could. The legislation does not come into effect until April, so between now and then those individuals and groups are researching, lobbying, and negotiating. The guidance on the Act (and there may not be much - the government want us to feel this out for ourselves) doesn't come out until April either.
I began researching the possible consequences for Stroud Green on behalf of the CAAC (and as a member of StroudGreen.org), and came across intiatives of various scales in the other areas you see on the map. We have all been working together to define boundaries, an ongoing process that made much progress this week during meetings in Archway and Highgate.
The process has varied. Highgate (led by the Highgate Society) started big - with the postcode boundary. They decided they only wanted to work with two boroughs, so excluded the small Barnet and Islington bits and focussed on Camden and Haringey. They have been consulting local residents associations and neighbouring communites to wittle down the boundary.
Archway has, to my surprise, fairly natural borders. The Crouch Hill initiative was started by a concerned citizen who is mainly focussed on the 'Crouch Hill Park' site to which Ashmount School is moving. Note that Crouch Hill is a hill, and Crouch Hill 'Rd' is only a part of it. Whether it can be considered a 'neighbourhood' that can survive any initiative starting in Crouch End is another matter.
Stroud Green's northern and eastern boundaries are easy to define. The western boundary of the 'triangle' is tougher, not least because the Stroud Green Rd is the boundary between Haringey and Islington, and Neighbourhood Forums (or rather the Plans that they produce) become somewhat more complicated when they have to dovetail with two seperate borough area plans. But that's been a problem in Stroud Green since at least the 1500s. Both Haringey and Islington have Stroud Green conservation areas, and many of the residents of Islington streets west of SGR consider themselves to be in Stroud Green. I'm hoping to run a membership survey via StroudGreen.org to assist in evidencing a wetern boundary.
Sooner or later the plan for the Neighbourhood Forum, including fixed and non-overlapping boundaries, has to be submitted to the borough(s), so yes consultation does have an end point. More significantly, if the NF is a) accepted and b)comes up with a Neighbourhood Plan (which would be legally part of planning policy) then it is submitted to a local referendum. That's the final democratic check to make sure that it's not just about geeks like me who like dicking around with Google Maps.
This seems to me to raise lots of issues. In no particular order -and I will split the postings to make responses easier.
1. I find out that I am in the Archway neighbourhood forum area. This is news to me. It will be news to many others. It seems a meeting was held in Archway. Who called it? who was at it? How do they have the right either to speak for me or any of my neighbours? Our local residents association is moribund on planning matters at it seems the committee regard them as too controversial. I dont have time to do anything about this personally as my "volunteer" time is used up on being a school Governor, a member of the Islington Schools forum and an NHS trust Governor. I have elected councillors to speak for me, whom I was involved in the usual, rough and ready, secret ballot process in choosing.
The Archway initiative is being led by the Better Archway Forum. I don't know much about them, but judging by their website their aims are laudable. As with the Highgate Society they are at the research and consultation stage. These Forums have to be established as citizen's initiatives, so it is understandable that those citizens happen to be estabished civic groups who take an interest in planning. Remember that at least one councillor (out of a minimum of 21 people) has to get involved before the Forum can be recognised, and that there is a referendum lock.
This particular meeting was set up to share information between local initiatives. There will be public meetings to discuss any proposed NF.
2. The Crouch Hill Forum has been set up by a "concerned citizen" What? How can that be remotely acceptable?