Further to my post last week, I gritted my teeth last night, put on a brave face and got myself off to the Harringay & St Ann's Area Forum. Part of this meeting was given over to an explanation and Q&A of the plans to develop our part of the borough over the next 20 years.
My aim in attending was to better understand what is planned and the status of the current plans. I'm not sure that I got the complete picture, but I'm certainly better informed. I provide my understanding of this issue below.
What the Plans are about
The current plans are fundamental to how our area will change and develop over the coming 20 years. Make no mistake about it; what gets agreed in these plans will amount to an unchallengeable legal commitment to development. And, these plans are not about fiddling around the edges; they see significant development in our neighbourhood, covering as much as 15-20% of the land area of Harringay. Even if no project affects your road, these plans will affect your neighbourhood.
Where the Plans Come From
As I understand it, a key driver for this planning is top down. The Mayor's London Plan requires Haringey to submit plans to meet certain development targets over the next 20 years. Most particularly, this means housing targets. Haringey has been told that it has to find space for 1,502 new homes each year for the next 20 years.
What the Plans Mean
If the council fails to submit appropriate plans, in effect it concedes all decision-making powers to the Mayor and the Planning Inspectorate. So, as I understand it, the borough's choices are restricted, but there is still some element of choice about where in the borough and in what form development happens.
Once the plans are approved, they commit the Council to what they contain. This means that if planning applications are made in accordance with the plans, the Council is legally obliged to approve them. There will be no second bite of the cherry, no appeals, no representations.
The Council will also be given powers to compulsorily purchase any of the sites included.
So, be warned, once these plans are agreed, that's it; the die is cast.
What's in the Plans
The Sites Allocation Development Plan Document is the Council's first draft at responding to its statutory duties. It does two things:
The plan includes two types of site:
As I understand it, the essential difference between the two is simply scale. Site Allocations are large developments; Housing Trajectory Sites are smaller housing developments.
Seven places in Harringay are included:
For the site allocations, you can read in the plan what is planned for each place. No narrative is provided at this stage for the housing trajectory sites.
To give you some sense of the scale of change, at Sainsbury's the plan envisages putting the car park underground and developing the site with eight storey housing units. Almost the whole of the Harringay Warehouse district is zoned for development. In this area, the development is likely to be intensive with a high proportion of multi-floor units. These represent huge changes to the physical appearance of the area, as well as to the population size and composition.
What Influence Can we all Have
Not all change is bad. Some will be positive and some will have downsides. As I understand it, these plans are at the broad brush stage. The Council has been given targets, officers have identified places they think are the ones that can be used to meet those targets and have made suggestions on what sort of development might take place on each.
So here's what's to play for, areas we can influence:
1. It's very unlikely (but not impossible) that a site will be excluded at this stage. If that is to happen, another site would have to be found to carry the development planned for the excluded site.
2. Thoughts about the type of development planned? (For example, the Sainsbury's area is zoned for high-rise housing development? Is that the right use? If so is it the right type of housing?)
3. Thoughts about the implications of the developments (For example, last night the knock-on effect of traffic was mentioned by Cllr Alexander and a member of the public raised the implications for local health and education provision.).
3. Opportunities the plans might present for our area? (For example, with all the planned development, an examination of traffic flows including local road closures like Hermitage Road may be on the cards. The plan mentions the poor access to Finsbury Park from Harringay. I've been writing about a Park gate for harringay for years. Could that be part of the plans?)
As I understand it, at this stage the plans are broad brush and the Council is asking for a broad brush, as well as more specific responses. Last night we were told that if the community feels strongly, the Council will have to look again at its plans.
This is complex stuff. I think I may have hold of one end of a piece of string, but I certainly don't claim to understand the whole shebang.
The formal consultation for this stage of the plans runs until 7th March. If you'd like to learn more there are supposed to be drop-in events coming up at our two local libraries.
AlternativeIy, we could try something else. I was quite impressed with Steve Kelly, the new Assistant Director for Planning who was at the meeting last night and I suggested a few things to him in a conversation afterwards. Firstly I asked if he'd be prepared to arrange for a limited response online Q&A on HoL (to understand the process and ask questions - not to respond to the consultation). I also asked if it would be possible to arrange for someone to attend an informal meeting locally to respond to questions. Steve seems open to both possibilities. Is anyone interested?
Responding to the Plans
1. Formal Response
2. Another Option
If enough people are interested, we could arrange to meet informally, discuss the plans and possibly think about submitting a collective response.
Who's in Charge
Players appearing for the Council team were:
Cllr Joseph Ejiofor, Cabinet Member for Planning and Enforcement
Stephen Kelly, Asst Director Planning
Gavin Ball, Planning Policy Officer
To all those interested in a meeting, I've been invited to meet with Steve Kelly, Haringey's AD Planning next week. So, I'll know after that if a meeting with him/A N Other is on the cards. What I'll be saying to him re the meeting is "Yes please, if you're willing (and he may not be), but only if we can get enough confirmed attendees" (say 12+). I don't want to waste their time and have them come down here if only a couple of people turn up. Make sense?
Thanks Hugh. I understand and look forward to hearing about a meeting.
I've just amended the original post to include a seventh site that I'd previously missed - the BDC/Hawes & Curtis site is also part of the plans for more housing.
I was interested to learn from the Council yesterday that they received about 200 email responses to the consultation on this issue, most of which were from Harringay.
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