Case study: Highgate Neighbourhood Forum
Maggy Meade-King, Chair of the Highgate Neighbourhood Forum, explains how the Forum got to where it is now and sets out its current activities and plans for the future.
Deciding to produce a Neighbourhood Plan
As Maggy explains, the starting point was when members of the Highgate Society (a local civic society in the neighbourhood) saw the potential in the Localism Bill of 2011. They saw it as an opportunity for their local community to be recognised as one with issues and strengths. Because the community is on the edge of two boroughs (Camden and Haringey), and because it is an affluent bit of both, they felt that they were not included in anybody’s plans. With the Localism Bill they saw the opportunity of getting involved to change this.
However, Maggy says “While we noted that the Bill had possibilities for us, we also noticed the forums proposed within it had no capacity to cross borough boundaries. This was a main issue for us because we suffer from the fact of having two different planning authorities with two different sets of rules split up our high street, and of course we are not the only ones in London. In reading through the Bill we thought it had no regard to urban areas at all, it was all about suburban and rural areas. So we lobbied, put in a submission to the Scrutiny Committee and got an amendment to the Bill to allow cross borough Forums.
Having achieved this, we felt we had to make use of the new provisions set out. Also, through our involvement it was also clear that setting up a Neighbourhood Forum was the way forward to make full use of the new provisions, and that this unit could offer our community a democratic way of putting together a plan through which our local community could influence the future development of our area, a Neighbourhood Plan.”
So, even before Localism Act came into effect in April 2012 (it was given Royal Assent in November 2011), steps were already being taken to get a Neighbourhood Forum established.