We have now published the final version of the Highgate Neighbourhood Plan, which will be put to the voters of Highgate at a Referendum in July. You can read it here.
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As part of local Earth Day celebrations, LUX is hosted a Biodiversity Brainstorm on Saturday 22 April from 2–4pm. We heard from local activists about projects to support and increase our biodiversity. 2–3pm: Speakers: Jeska Harrington Gould, Growing Green Simon Olley,...
The Plan is an amazing achievement and you must all be complimented on it. I am rather surprised that I only became aware that it had been published last week and to find that we are to vote for or against its acceptance on 6July. Surely as there is so much in it , it would make sense to invite residents to presentations on the key proposals rather than assuming they a. Are aware of it and b. Can absorb a 90 page document without any exposure to the arguments and alternatives ?
We too are concerned to have received voting cards on a matter about which we had no prior knowledge. We should have been made aware of the existence of the Plan as soon as it was “published”. As it is, we do not have sufficient time to give it full consideration before the polling date. In this sense the democratic process has been subverted.
Hello Robert – thanks for getting in touch. I am sorry you don’t feel you have been kept informed about the Neighbourhood Plan. In fact, we have worked very hard over the years we have worked on it to engage and consult the community – I think our Consultation Statement: http://www.highgateneighbourhoodforum.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/HNP-Consultation-Statement.pdf gives the best account of that.
We actually launched the Plan at our AGM in May and there were posters up all around the neighbourhood inviting people to that. Of course, everyone on our mailing list (nearly 1000), as well as the many more who follow us on Twitter, have been kept informed at every point. Unfortunately, we couldn’t begin our wider campaign to let everyone know until after the General Election, which was called some time after the Referendum was first arranged. Since the Election we have delivered campaign cards to nearly every household and there are posters on all the noticeboards + many shops and pubs. We are all volunteers so it’s always a question of what we can practically manage, but we do our best.
And, on the ‘democratic deficit’, in fact neighbourhood plans are the only planning documents on which residents have a direct vote, and, given all of the above, it seems to me a much more democratic process than say the national, London or Local Council Plans.
In terms of getting up to scratch with what, unfortunately, has to be long document written in clunky ‘planning speak’, I have written a summary: http://www.highgateneighbourhoodforum.org.uk/whats-in-the-neighbourhood-plan-a-summary/ which I hope you will find helpful. If you have any specific questions about any aspect, I would be happy to answer them.
Highgate Neighbourhood Forum
Dear Ms Meade King,
In your response to the response, you say quite a lot of work has been done to highlight the project. Posters have gone up and there are apparently many Twitter followers. In addition you have sent letters to 1000 people on your “mailing list”. This is an interesting figure because in the Plan itself it states that there are more than 18,000 people and 8,000 properties in the area covered by the plan. So I don’t think think your information campaign has been quite as extensive as you make out.
Many of us are not on Twitter and we’re not all inclined to seek out a small leaflet pinned to a wall next to adverts for Yoga classes and guitar teachers. Even a website requires active engagement, which is fine, as long as you know there is something to get engaged with.
I have seen some of the arguments for saying yes, but what happens if we say NO? I need to know what the repercussions are.
I’m also nervous about the reference to the building of 16 OR MORE units in the Gonnerman area. For a start there are already houses there (low rise), so what are you going to do with the people who live there at present? Sixteen homes also seems quite a lot, and what guarantees will we have that the project won’t end up in the hands of developers who will amend planning to build something much bigger and that falls into the “luxury” rabbit hutch category? In addition I’m concerned that the Library is at risk to developers.
I’m also concerned that, while it states that current green areas will be protected, it sits uncomfortably with the stated objective of development. As another person has commented on another comments page on this site, the wooded area by the library and by the tube are important “lungs” for the street/s directly behind the A1 and I would like some serious reassurance that these are not at any kind of risk.
All of this does not mean I’m averse to change. Some of the plan looks good. But what I am averse to is a referendum on something on which I feel very ill informed. I believe I may have received a leaflet on the plan more than a year ago but I don’t think I’ve had anything since. More significantly, until the polling card delivered two weeks ago (max) I was completely unaware of the referendum.
I live on a street that is very active and engaged in all things local and I know that I am not alone in feeling very confused about how best to vote for the long term future of what is a very beautiful area.
I’m also not alone in feeling blindsided by the news that we are going to have to vote in a referendum for which I am ill informed. I would like to make it clear now, that I object to this referendum on the grounds that not enough has been done to explain to me what the pros and cons of this project are.
Dear Kitty Hamilton – thanks for getting in touch. I only gave the examples I did of recent activity to give an idea of all the work that has gone into the Plan and consulting over the years – do read the Consultation Statement to get a better idea. We are all volunteers with no outside funding and can only do our best.
But to the meat of your concerns:
The result of saying ‘No’ to the Plan will be that the Highgate community will have no say in any future developments that may be proposed in our area. We don’t own any of the land, so, without our planning rules in place, developers will merely apply to the Council and negotiate a deal. In fact, a ‘no’ vote will send a clear green light to all those developers who are waiting to see if the Plan goes through.
The situation with the Gonnermans/Goldsmiths Court site is that the Goldsmiths Court owners have already made proposals to redevelop their site and – after representations from the current tenants (you will see the GC RA are now affilated to the Forum) – the Forum stepped in and negotiated an agreement that all the current tenants would be rehoused in any new development on their current terms (hence the 16 units, which is what is there currently). If the Plan goes through, the Forum will be in the position of being able to defend those affordable units, should the GC owners (Hornsey Housing Trust) renege on this in any way.
The Library is not mentioned in the Plan because the recent proposal to move it had not been mooted when it was written. All the green areas in the Plan area are given extra protection by various Plan measures – I can list them for you, if you wish.
I am genuinely sorry you feel so ill informed on the Plan – as I have said above, we have done our best with very limited resources, but, as you say, with 18,000 people in the Plan area, our efforts were always going to fall short. I agree that a one question referendum is very poor way of consulting the community on such a large document. Unfortunately, we are hidebound by the legislation which governs these matters. All I would add again is that, in the case of the Haringey Local Plan (which will be the default planning doc, should the NP fail) there is no such democratic control. With all their resources, the Councils are not asked to seek the approval of residents. I can only urge you to vote ‘yes’ and give us all the opportunity to defend Highgate in the future (and have control over the Community Infrastructure Levy monies that will come our way with a ‘made’ Plan – more on this: http://www.highgateneighbourhoodforum.org.uk/plan/cil-list/).
Hope this helps