Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum: our activities 2019-20
The Forum held its seventh annual general meeting on 16 March 2020. Because of the coronavirus outbreak, the AGM was sparsely attended. All those present practised social distancing. A new committee was appointed, the accounts approved, and the Forum's new mission statement was also approved. Janine Griffis, Forum chair, gave a report on the activities of the past year.
Janine Griffis promised to circulate a report to members. Here it is:
"We hope this finds you and your loved ones well and coping as best you can in this crisis. We have contacted local residents’ associations and other groups to explore ways that the Forum can help link resources and people. If you have any other ideas on ways that the Forum can contribute, please get in touch.
Meanwhile, we promised you a report of the Forum’s annual general meeting on 16 March. Here is a short briefing on our activities over the past year.
First of all, planning. This was the first full year of operation of the Hampstead Neighbourhood Plan, which was formally adopted by Camden in October 2018 after receiving 91% support in a public referendum. The Plan’s policies derived entirely from what you, the members, said in the many public meetings and consultations that we held from 2014 onwards. So we want to be sure that the Plan is having an influence on Camden’s decisions on planning applications.
Therefore, the Forum submits comments to Camden, and monitors the outcomes. Since the Plan came into effect, we have reviewed 250 planning applications and submitted 52 comments. Among those on which Camden has announced decisions, in only two cases could it be said that the Plan’s policies were not taken into account. In a further 10 cases, the Plan was specifically cited in Camden’s decisions, although the Forum had not submitted a comment. In just a few cases, outcomes were not clear-cut or applications were withdrawn. Overall, we feel that the Plan’s impact is very much in line with what we had hoped.
In addition, we have submitted comments on developers’ plans at the pre-application stage. And we have held a series of useful meetings with Camden’s officials so as to foster mutual understanding of local planning issues.
You can keep in touch with the Forum’s comments on planning applications and with decisions by Camden that are relevant to the Plan on our Planning Watch page at www.hampsteadforum.org/planningwatch
Secondly, we had to give thought to what the Forum’s role should be following the completion of the original mandate to write the Neighbourhood Plan. Over the past year we have developed a new Mission Statement which focuses on three areas.
The first is ensuring the performance of the Plan – see above! Secondly, we need to make sure that the Plan stays relevant, and true to its expressed goals. We cannot expect that everything will stay the same during the Plan’s 15-year life. Therefore, we are developing minor adjustments and clarifications, and beginning preparations for an eventual update – though this will not be attempted for some years.
Finally, we want to use the experience that the Forum has gained of public engagement and consultation so as to be of continuing use to the Hampstead community – provided that such efforts are consistent with the vision and the policies of the Neighbourhood Plan. For example, we had planned to host a discussion after the AGM on local transport issues. This will be held when circumstances allow. In addition, the Forum has assisted local Councillors by consulting on the use of proceeds of the Community Infrastructure Levy. We have been involved in efforts to monitor air quality, to protect important trees, and to preserve local pubs.
The AGM unanimously voted to approve the Forum’s new mission statement, and you can read it here.
I would like to thank you for your interest in the Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum and for your support for our work.
We hope that you remain safe and well."
You can read the Hampstead Neighbourhood Plan here, view the Plan area here and follow the process of consultation and drafting that led to the Plan's creation here. A summary of the Neighbourhood Plan's policies can be found here.
The Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum is a voluntary group set up by local residents. Under the terms of the Localism Act 2011, communities were given the ability to shape future development in their areas through Neighbourhood Plans. The Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum developed the Plan following intensive discussions over five years with local residents, community groups and businesses.
The purpose of the Neighbourhood Plan, and of the Forum, is not to oppose development. Rather, the Plan aims to keep Hampstead lively and contemporary, while safeguarding the fine heritage of our streets and buildings. Hampstead should be enduringly green, with the Heath, open spaces, trees and landscapes well protected. It should be safe and walkable, with good public transport. It should foster local enterprise, supporting the needs who live and work in the area as well as visitors. And it should be a strong community with good amenities.
PLANNING WATCH: The Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum comments selectively on planning applications that, in our view, support or are at odds with the Neighbourhood Plan's policies. Click here to see the Forum's recent comments and to see how the Plan's policies are being taken into account in planning decisions.