The idea for Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum grew out of a public meeting held on 3 September 2013 at Burgh House. We met to learn more about the Localism Act 2011 and the authority that it gives local communities to develop their own Neighbourhood Plans. A Steering Group was charged with recommending whether or not the benefits of creating a bespoke template for the development of Hampstead merited the work involved. The group unanimously recommended that we should proceed: here was an opportunity to shape how the village develops, while also protecting and enhancing the things people love about Hampstead.
The Forum proceeded to establish itself, consulting local people on their wishes and concerns. We proposed boundaries and a constitution, and a committee was elected at the first annual general meeting on 6th March 2014. Several public meetings were held at which residents offered their views. These steps fulfilled the conditions for an application to be made to Camden Council to approve of the Forum. Camden held a six-week public consultation in summer 2014, and formally designated the Forum in September.
Camden has designated eight other neighbourhood forums. These are in Highgate, Kentish Town, Fortune Green and West Hampstead, Somers Town, Dartmouth Park, Camley Street, Church Row/Perrins Walk, and Redington and Frognal.
The next stage for the Forum is to write a Neighbourhood Plan, which will create policies aimed at encouraging good planning that retains and improves Hampstead’s unique character, streetscape and natural environment. It should also ensure that Hampstead offers a welcoming environment to businesses, and that the area’s development is sustainable socially and environmentally.
The Plan for Hampstead would sit alongside Camden’s other strategic planning documents such as the Local Strategic Framework and the Core Strategy but would carry more weight than the Conservation Area Statement and Camden Planning Guidance. Before it takes effect, it must be approved by voters in a public referendum, and by an independent inspector.
As a first step, the Forum created a Vision document that set broad objectives and invited all local residents and businesses to comment on them. Some 400 people did so, and the objectives found strong support.
The Vision document took forward what we had learned from previous public meetings. For example, about 50 people met at Burgh House on 26 January 2014 and their thoughts were captured in this report, A Living Village: Themes for Hampstead's Future. After our inaugural annual general meeting on 6 March 2014, a brainstorming session was held, reflected in this report, How to Improve Living Hampstead. Then, on 27 April 2014, we held a tea party at St Stephens, Rosslyn Hill, attended by about 120 people whose thoughts are summarised in this report, Living Hampstead: Community Tea. On 20 November 2014 we held another public meeting to report back on the Vision document consultation, and a report on that event will appear here soon.
As mentioned above, the Forum has been set up primarily to create the Neighbourhood Plan in accordance with the Localism Act 2011. As a result, until the Plan is finalised and approved by an independent inspector after a public referendum we will not perform a pressure group role in the community or advise individual residents about specific issues. Once the Plan is approved, a committee may be formed to monitor compliance with the terms of the Plan. In this context, it is possible that it could apply pressure on behalf of residents where this would be appropriate.
In the meantime, residents who have specific concerns are advised to take them up with their local ward Councillors. All three Councillors representing Hampstead Town ward on Camden Council are involved in the Forum: Tom Currie, Stephen Stark and Oliver Cooper. So too are Cllr. Siobhan Baillie (Frognal and Fitzjohns) and Cllr. Theo Blackwell (Gospel Oak).
Other local bodies are also involved, including the NW3 Hampstead Business Group; residents associations representing the areas of Downshire Hill, Flask Walk, Gayton Road, Pilgrim's Lane to Willoughby Road, South Hill Park, and Vale of Health; and the Heath and Hampstead Society.
If you have questions or would like to get involved, join the forum on this website or email firstname.lastname@example.org