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I can clarify the role of the Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum

11 September, 2020

• JOHN Wilson (Why has the council gone along with the Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum?, September 3), dislikes the new 168 bus stand, and complains the Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum should not have been allowed to choose it.

He is talking through his hat.

As its new chair, I do what I can to keep up with the powers parliament and Camden confer on the forum. It is not hard: one so far.

The Localism Act 2011 allowed us to write a Neighbourhood Plan and put it to referendum. After years of public consultations and drafting, the plan passed public referendum in 2018 with 91 per cent support.

Section 6.61 says: “Community engagement confirms that a shared use scheme and the reconfiguration of bus stands would be welcomed for South End Green. The plan encourages Camden Council to work with partner organisations and Transport for London to help realise the community’s vision for the area.”

The experimental streatery on South End Green accords with the plan’s vision for the green (6.57-6.61).

We cannot take credit for the initiative; energetic South End Green Association members and ward councillors grasped the opportunity.

Cllr Stephen Stark asked the forum for a quick poll to confirm the plan’s vision still commands support. It does: 78 per cent of poll respondents favour temporary closure of the slip road; 52 per cent want it closed permanently; and another 24 per cent want first to see how a temporary closure works out.

Cllr Oliver Cooper tells me the new 168 bus stand site was picked by Camden and Transport for London officials. Certainly no one asked the forum for a view. Nor should they: at least three candidate sites I have heard mentioned lie outside the forum’s area.

The pandemic and the climate and ecological crisis signal more disruption ahead. The forum will continue to serve as a public space in which to look for consensus.

Not that strange a role.

Chair, Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum


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