Revision of Neighbourhood Plan presses ahead

In a column in the Ham&High, Forum chair Alex Nicoll gave an update on the revision process.

The full text is below.

We have written before in the Ham&High about our plans to revise the Hampstead Neighbourhood Plan so as to strengthen its policies on sustainable architecture and enhance the beautiful environment in which we are lucky to live. In this column I’m giving a quick update.

The Neighbourhood Plan came into force in 2018 after four years of close consultation within the local community. After passing a public referendum with 92% support, it took its place alongside the Camden local plan and other planning regulations. This means that people making planning applications must take its policies into account, and so must Camden as it decides whether to give its approval.

While most applications raise no issues, the Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum — as well as neighbours and other bodies — submits objections to Camden on a small number. Most often, issues are resolved by amendments to the applicants’ plans. We feel that the Plan has been effective in influencing development along the lines that the community wanted when we held our original consultations.

This year, we launched a new round of consultations to make sure that the Plan was still in tune with residents’ aspirations for their neighbourhood.

We found that, by comparison with nine years ago, there is a greater desire that development should make use of sustainable technologies that combat, mitigate or adapt to the problems created by climate change. In addition, there is a wish not just to protect the natural environment when we develop our properties, but actually to improve it.

As a result, the Forum has drafted new policies on sustainable development, biodiversity and considerate construction, as well as making other changes to the existing Plan. We will consult the community again in the autumn on these modifications. Beyond that, the revised Plan will require approval by Camden, an independent examiner (to make sure its policies are clear and compatible with laws and other regulations), and probably again in a public referendum.

The key challenge will be to promote sustainability while still conserving the tremendous heritage of our neighbourhood — keeping Hampstead as Hampstead, but also modern and meeting today’s responsibilities. Find out more at www.hampsteadforum.org

Alexander Nicoll is chair of the Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum

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