Minutes of Localism Meeting 20 October 2011

Minutes of Localism Meeting

Kentish Town Neighbourhood Forum

Thursday 20 October 2011 7.00pm

Room 8, Greenwood Place Community Centre NW5 1LB

 

Those attending

See Annex A for full list

Representatives from:

Kentish Town Road Action (KTRA)

Bartholomew Area Residents Association (BARA)

Bartholomew and Kentish Town Conservation Area Advisory Committee (KT & BE CAAC)

Prince of Wales Residents Association (POWRA)

Leighton Road Neighbourhood Association (LRNA)

Inkerman Area Residents Association (IARA)

Cllr Paul Braithwaite

Cllr Georgia Gould

Apologies 

Brenda Gardner – Castle Road Residents Association

Mark McCarthy – South Kentish Town Conservation Area Advisory Committee

Rosemary Lewin – Kelly Street Residents Association  

Jake Morgan – Kentish Town Business Association

Not present 

Pat Gibson – Highgate Road Residents Association

Judy Love – Hadley Street Residents Association

Caroline Hill (KTRA) opened the meeting and welcomed all those attending this second meeting.  Thanks were given to Kentish Town Community Centre for providing the venue for the meeting.

  1. 1.      The Localism Bill and The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)

Caroline made a presentation to outline current understanding of the principles of localism, the current timetable for the Localism Bill and the potential differences of approach this has with the draft National Planning Policy Framework.

Timetable

  • Localism Bill: Report Stage House of Lords ended 17 Oct 2011.
  • Third Reading 31 Oct 2011
  • Enactment of Bill end Nov 2011 – early Dec 2011
  • Target date for Localism Bill to take effect is April 2012

 

  • NPPF consultation closed 17 Oct 2011.
  • The Government has tabled a debate about NPPF for the 27th October.
  • Final version end 2011 or early 2012
  • Target date for NPPF to take effect is April 2012 but Planning Minister Greg Clark hinted on October 13th that there may be a second consultation after the proposed final version is published (this may be because of inconsistencies between NPPF and the Localism Bill)

 

Localism – Neighbourhood Forums

Caroline has pre-registered ‘Kentish Town Neighbourhood Forum’ with Camden Council.

From the draft Bill

“The Localism Bill will devolve powers to councils and neighbourhoods and aims to give local communities more control over housing and planning decisions. It includes measures to reform the planning system, the provision of housing and a range of local authority governance issues. The Bill will establish neighbourhood plans and neighbourhood development orders, by which it is intended that communities will be able to influence council policies and development in their neighbourhoods.”

A Neighbourhood Forum

•  Will consist of a minimum of 21 members made up of local residents, local business people and ward councillors drawn from different places in the Neighbourhood area.

•  Must have a written constitution.

•  The area of the Forum must not overlap with any other Forum area.

•  A Neighbourhood Forum has to apply to the Council to be designated.

•  The designation ceases to have effect at the end of a period of 5 years or if the Neighbourhood Forum is no longer meeting the conditions and criteria set down by the Council.

This is a Lord’s Amendment tabled 17 October 2011

 “A Neighbourhood Forum is established expressly for the purpose of furthering the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of individuals living, or wanting to live, in an area that consists of or includes the neighbourhood area concerned, and, if it is appropriate to the nature of the area, promoting the carrying on of trades, professions or other businesses in such an area.”

Localism – Neighbourhood Plan (NP)  

•  Any qualifying body is entitled to make an NP.

•  An NP is a plan that sets out policies in relation to development and use of land in a Neighbourhood Forum area.

•  If the local planning authority says that an area needs to grow, then communities cannot use neighbourhood planning to block the building of new homes and businesses. They can, however, use neighbourhood planning to influence the type, design, location and mix of new development.

•  Only one NP may be made for each Neighbourhood Forum area. 

•  An NP must be assessed by an independent examiner appointed by the Council. The NP must have regard to the policies in the National Planning Policy Framework (see below) and be in general conformity with the strategic policies in the Local Plan (see below).

•  An NP must then go for referendum (financed and organized by the Council) to all those living in the Neighbourhood Forum area who are registered to vote. If more than 50% of those voting are in favour the Council must adopt the NP as a statutory planning document and bring it into force.

•  In some special cases – where, for example, the proposals put forward in a plan for one neighbourhood have significant implications for other people nearby – people from other neighbourhoods may be allowed to vote too.

N. B. When Local Plan is mentioned that means the Council’s Local Development Framework Core Strategy. This is not to be confused with a Neighbourhood Plan.

 

Localism – Neighbourhood Development Order

•  The community can grant planning permission for new buildings they want to see go ahead. Neighbourhood Development Orders will allow new homes and offices to be built without the developers having to apply for separate planning permission.

•  A Neighbourhood Development Order will grant planning permission for development that complies with the order. Where communities have made clear that they want development of a particular type, it will be easier for that development to go ahead.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)

 

It has 7 main features:

1. Fewer rules about what can be built, where and how

2. A presumption in favour of sustainable development

3. The Local Plan becomes even more important

4. Supports a growth agenda

5. Introduces a duty to cooperate

6. Replaces targets for development with incentives

7. Supports neighbourhood planning and sets out expectations on consultation with communities by local authorities and developers.

 

‘A presumption in favour of sustainable development’

The presumption is that:

“… individuals and businesses have the right to build homes and other local buildings provided that they conform to national environmental, architectural, economic and social standards, conform with the local plan, and pay a tariff that compensates the community for loss of amenity and costs of additional infrastructure.”

The phrase ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’ does not feature in the draft Localism Bill. However, sustainable development has always been included in planning documents. The words ‘presumption’ and ‘in favour’ seem to be at odds with the main intention of Localism and Neighbourhood Plans: that local people can decide on a plan that sets out policies in relation to development and use of land in a Neighbourhood Forum area and that a Neighbourhood Forum is established expressly for the purpose of furthering the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of individuals living, or wanting to live, in an area, as I said before.  

The NPPF has to be approved by the House of Commons only and many of those in the House of Lords are understandably concerned about that. When a final version of the NPPF is published, it will be a statutory document. This means that planning authorities and developers must take notice of it and both Local Plans and planning decisions by Councils can be challenged if they don’t adhere to it.

This is what was said in the House of Lords on 17 October 2011:

“It will take time for all local authorities, even those with Core Strategies in place, to get Local Plans updated/adopted in light of the national planning policy framework – allowance for this should be included in the NPPF and the Localism Bill to avoid opportunistic and unplanned development coming forward during the transition period against local wishes, and to ensure development reflects locally-determined priorities rather than national ones”.

 

A discussion on the issues from the presentation took place.

It was felt that a real effort needed to be made to engage and work with local businesses even if efforts to do so by individual local organisations had not been successful in the past.  Regis Road Industrial Estate and Kentish Town Road Business Association should be approached again. It was also felt that new businesses could also be approached.

It was agreed that Tenants Associations also needed to be engaged and Councillor Paul Braithwaite agreed to provide some contacts.  Hilary Barnes would provide a contact for Clarence Way Estate TA.

Consideration should also be given to inviting a representative of Camden Council in respect of Regis Road Re-cycling Centre.  A question arose about the future of this Centre and Councillor Paul Braithwaite would look into this (next full Council meeting on 7 November 2011)

Other concerns raised included the age profile of those represented on KTNF.  Councillor Georgia Gould recommended approaching Kentish Town Youth Area Action Group.

Other groups suggested for possible involvement included, Transition Kentish Town, Safer Neighbourhoods Team, local schools, churches/religious interests and interest groups representing disability groups.

Concerns about the NPPF were discussed and it was felt that the local MP Frank Dobson should be approached to get engaged in the debate in the House of Commons.

Caroline provided a map of Kentish Town outlining the proposed area to be covered by KTNF.  (Map at Annex D)

Suggestions were made to include the Leighton Grove triangle, Raveley Street triangle, Greenwood Place and Regis Road, Clarence Way Estate (using the railway line as the southern boundary).

Caroline would take these suggestions on board and circulate a revised map.

  1. 2.      Constitution

 

David (IARA) presented a discussion paper about a possible constitution for KTNF outlining 4 main options.  (Full paper is at Annex B to the minutes)

The 4 options discussed were:

Option A: Some constitutions create a very open forum with effectively General Meetings called a number of times a year. Meetings are open to everyone living in the neighbourhood.  Provision can be made for calling for Special General Meetings.

The Annual General Meeting will elected chair, secretary and “street representatives” and will form a committee. “However the role of the committee will be solely to suggest items for discussion and prepare the agenda the meetings of the forum and will not have authority to represent its views as that of the neighbourhood forum.”

Option B: Another constitution sets up a Representative Group Meeting made up of one member each from each properly constituted residents and business groups in the area and they elect the members of a Steering Group which will manage the forum. The Steering Group will meet as often as is necessary.

Option C: an Annual General Meeting elects a Committee Chair, Vice chair, secretary-treasurer and up to 8 other members which meets every month and runs the forum.

Option D: A further option would be that a committee made up of one representative from each of the local groups meets and runs the forum subject to basic principles and policies decided by an Annual General Meeting or general meetings held more frequently

Option D was generally preferred by those attending the meeting with provision for 2 representatives from each local group to form a committee.  Although there were issues to consider about local people who were not part of an organised local group, the position of open meeting and who may be entitled to vote.

David (IARA) offered to work on a more detailed version of a constitution based on the principles of option D and circulate it before a future meeting of the KTNF.

  1. 3.      Kentish Town Neighbourhood Plan

 

While it is not possible to progress plans yet it was agreed it would be worth having a preliminary discussion about what might be included in a Neighbourhood Plan.

Communities can:

• choose where they want new homes, shops and offices to be built

• have their say on what those new buildings should look like

• grant planning permission for the new buildings they want to see go ahead.

Ideas suggested for consideration in a local plan were listed on a flip chart and can be found at Annex C

Communities and Local Government Consultation on Neighbourhood Planning

Responses by 5 January 2012.

This consultation is to consider whether the proposed approach to taking up the regulation-making powers in the Localism Bill, strikes the right balance between standardising the approach to neighbourhood planning across the country, and providing for sufficient local flexibility to reflect local circumstances. Responses are required by 5 January 2012. Caroline agreed to e-mail the document to any interested groups and individuals.

Caroline advised that there will be several sources of advice and support for communities who are interested in doing neighbourhood planning.

The local planning authority will be obliged by law to help people draw up their neighbourhood plans. Developers, parish and town councils, landowners and local businesses may all be interested in sponsoring and taking a leading role in neighbourhood planning. In fact, in some places, local businesses are already starting a debate with local residents and councils.

The Government has committed to providing £50m until March 2015 to support local councils in making neighbourhood planning a success.

The Government has already provided £3m to four community support organisations, who already support communities in planning for their neighbourhood. 

 

  1. 4.      Frequency and timing of future meetings   

 

It was agreed that meetings should be quarterly and that we should meet again in January 2012 as the 3rd reading of the Bill is due to take place on 31 November 2011. A representative from the Localism Team at Camden Council should be invited to the meeting. The following meeting could be scheduled for April 2012 after the Localism Bill has become law and taken effect.

Action points from the minutes

ACTION BY WHOM BY WHEN
Renew efforts to engage local business in KTNF including Regis Road Industrial Estate and KTRBA.  Also to consider other groups to be engaged. All Before next meeting in January 2012
Provide contacts for Tenants AssociationsProvide contact for Clarence Way Estate TA Councillor Paul BraithwaiteHilary Barnes Before next meeting in January 2012
Approach Frank Dobson MP to raise concerns in House debate on NPPF All local groups Before 27 October 2011
Map of area covered by KTNF to be revised and circulated Caroline Hill (Map at Annex E) Before next meeting in January 2012
A more detailed constitution based on Option D to be drafted and circulated David (IARA) Before next meeting in January 2012
Information on Communities & Local Government Consultation on Neighbourhood Planning to be circulated to interested groups Caroline Hill On request before 5 January 2012
Representative of Camden Council Localism Team to be invited to next meeting Caroline Hill Before next meeting in January 2012

 

 

 

 

Annex A

 

List of attendees

 

Richard Burton

Mireille Burton

Jenny Wright (LRNA)

John Woodcock (LRNA)

Mrs Woodcock (LRNA)

Hilary Barnes (IARA)

Debby Hyams (IARA)

David J (IARA & KTRA)

Caroline Hill (KTRA)

Paul Seviour (IARA)

John Nicholson (IARA & KTRA)

Rod Harper (KTRA)

Sara Feilden

Isky Gordon (BARA)

Cllr Georgia Gould (Kentish Town Councillor)

Celia Goreham (KT & BE CAAC)

David Goreham (KT & BE CAAC)

Cllr Paul Braithwaite (Cantelowes Councillor) 

Lindsey Purchall (KTRA)

Nori Howard 

Belinda Low

Alan Morris (POWRA)  


Annex B

 

Notes for a discussion about a constitution for Kentish Town Neighbourhood Forum for the meeting on 20 October 2011.

I have taken the elementary step of googling neighbourhood forum constitutions. There does not appear to be one approved model. The constitutions I have looked at are wildly different.

The one for Watford is half a page and says there are 12 neighbourhood forums within Watford, each one covering a ward and each forum comprises the three elected councillors for that ward!  That’s it. I.e. a sort of replica of the existing council arrangement.

Slightly more democratic and in the spirit of localism are three other ones and it is clear that there is a range of possibilities regarding how democratic or what sort of democracy is agreed upon.

Option A: Some constitutions create a very open forum with effectively General Meetings called a number of times a year. Meetings are open to everyone living in the neighbourhood.  Provision can be made for calling for Special General Meetings.

The Annual General Meeting will elected chair, secretary and “street representatives” and will form a committee. “However the role of the committee will be solely to suggest items for discussion and prepare the agenda the meetings of the forum and will not have authority to represent its views as that of the neighbourhood forum.”

Option B: Another constitution sets up a Representative Group Meeting made up of one member each from each properly constituted residents and business groups in the area and they elect the members of a Steering Group which will manage the forum. The Steering Group will meet as often as is necessary.

Option C: an Annual General Meeting elects a Committee Chair, Vice chair, secretary-treasurer and up to 8 other members which meets every month and runs the forum.

Option D: A further option would be that a committee made up of one representative from each of the local groups meets and runs the forum subject to basic principles and policies decided by an Annual General Meeting or general meetings held more frequently

Option A is the most democratic with the power remaining with the general meetings and with the committee referring matters back to the general meetings.

 

Option B and Option C are more based on a committee running the forum but with different ways of arriving at that committee: should it be an open election at an Annual General Meeting or should it be through the representative groups? 

Option D is proposed as a compromise with a larger, more representative committee.

Possible dangers:  that one area or interest group could dominate an Annual General Meeting and vote on a very un-representative committee. 

However the question could be asked about B and D – how representative or democratic are the Representative Associations that make up the forum?

The other issues in the Constitution are usually name and area, membership and provisions for Finance.

My suggestion (no surprises here) is that we call it

The Kentish Town Neighbourhood Forum.

The area is subject to change by some specified process but at there outset effectively runs from Ospringe Road in the north, encompasses the area of Kentish Town as traditionally understood to the east of the high street across to Torriano Avenue to the east, down to Camden Road station at the South and on the west of the High Street from Castle Road up to Regis Road. A map of the area will be attached to the Constitution.

Perhaps we should explain that this area has been identified because representative Residents Associations covering the area have joined together to create this neighbourhood forum and accordingly have some sort of mandate.  Perhaps we should name those Representative Associations.

It would be quite nice to state that Kentish Town is an identifiable area with a sense of community which we would like to foster.

The Purpose of the Neighbourhood Forum: there are a variety of purposes proposed in other forum constitutions I have looked at ranging from a “need to represent the interests of the people living in the area” to ” promoting a discussion between local residents and the local council” through to the more specific “to produce a neighbourhood plan to further the social, economic and environmental well-being of individuals living, or wanting to live, in the area”

The latter is in fact the real reason why Neighbourhood Forums have come into existence and would be one of the main purposes of the forum.

We could amalgamate all those quite easily into one statement of purpose.

Obviously one of the first tasks of the forum in whatever shape it is will be to hammer out some General Policies and Objectives.

These come in various categories: it could be mainly about visual planning, for example preserving the existing buildings and having an influence over new developments and we could go into considerable detail about what we want and do not want.

We might indicate that we wish to generate greater employment in the area. We might emphasise green issues, sustainability etc. We may wish to emphasise social benefit, community links, services for young people from all people, the issue of reducing crime, generating neighbourliness and companionship additionally for older people or housebound people.

However those may or may not be matters that people wish to go into the Constitution rather than into a General Policy Statement .

Membership: some of this will be laid down in the Act possibly. At the present moment people can come forward and propose a neighbourhood forum who live or work in the area or would like to live in the area. Whether that binds the membership of an existing form is not clear to me.

One constitution simply says “all people living in the area outlined are automatically members … plus councillors, the leader and deputy leader of the council, all of whom will be honorary members without voting rights.” Another constitution said membership will be open to all who support the purposes of the forum and give their contact details.

So the choice again is whether everybody in the area is automatically a member which would give us quite an impressive membership albeit very uncertain in number or whether people need to take some positive action to become members.

With open membership, again potentially a special interest group could swamp the Annual General Meeting and distort the purpose of the Forum.

Other matters:

 

We would need to make provision for notices about meetings and how these will be circulated or published. Minutes would need to be taken and again circulated.

There might be provision for consulting members through e-mail. This works well in our association, the Inkerman Area Residents Association. At one point it was seen as undemocratic and many people did not have access to a computer. It is now seen as being more democratic since it enables people to participate who could not necessarily come to public meetings because of disability, childcare needs or other problems.

We would need to make provision for a bank account, signatories etc. We need to consider whether any liability could attach to members or officers of the forum on whether insurence would be necessary or some sort of limited liability status.

We need to make arrangements for the winding up of the forum. We need to make provision for the Amendment of the Constitution.   Plus lots more I haven’t thought about.                                     David J. 

 

Annex C

 

Items for consideration for inclusion in a future Kentish Town Local Plan

  • Green spaces
  • Trees
  • Protecting front gardens from use as car parking
  • Playgrounds
  • Local listing
  • Business issues
  • Presumption against basement development
  • Education and schools
  • Height of buildings – limits
  • Transport
  • Sports amenities
  • Fascia on shops
  • Existing buildings – protection
  • High Street including mix of uses and 75% retail
  • Independent shops
  • Health centres
  • Youth centres
  • Empty sites