CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

‘Yes’ vote signals (planning) power to the people in Highgate

Highgate plan drawn up to 'listen to people's wishes' on development issues

17 July, 2017 — By Dan Carrier

Members of the Highgate Neighbourhood Forum celebrate success this week

HIGHGATE will enjoy an added layer of protection against unscrupulous developers – and residents will have a greater say in shaping the neighbourhood’s future, after the area’s Forum had its plan ratified this week.

A referendum on Thursday on the Highgate Neighbourhood Forum’s plan for the area, which stretches from Holly Lodge in the south to North Hill, and includes the Archway Road, won a huge “yes” vote.

Now the plan, drawn up over four years by Forum volunteers, is part of Camden and Haringey councils’ planning policy. Voters backed the plan by 88 per cent on a turnout of 2,361, which is 18 per cent of the electorate – a figure comparable to a council by-election.

Forum chairwoman Alicia Pivaro said the yes vote would mean that for the first time there was guidance for all of Highgate and that it handed power to residents to protect and nurture the area.

She added: “This result means both Camden and Haringey councils will have to take the wishes of the plan into account. It is the first time that there is an official plan for Highgate as a whole and we shall be monitoring possible new developments closely to make sure that they are in line with the wishes of the community as expressed in the plan.”

The vote comes four years after the Forum was established under the government’s Localism Act – and the plan was drawn up after long-running consultations with people who live in Highgate.

This is the third Forum plan in Camden to be ratified, following Kentish Town and West Hampstead, and the Highgate area is the first in the country to straddle two local authorities. The document focused on five key policy planks that the Forum has covered through their consultations, meetings and polls. They include topics such as social and community, economic activity, open spaces and public realm and development and heritage.

Ms Pivaro added: “We drew it up by listening to people’s wishes. We have had a chance to explain our plans – and also to listen to people’s current concerns during the referendum campaign. “Now a new phase in our work is beginning – to make sure the plan is followed, that new concerns are addressed and to create campaigns and projects that people want to be part of.”

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