Neighbourhood Development Forum moves forward

Following the first meeting in January, and enthusiasm for a Neighbourhood Development Plan for West Hampstead, a second meeting of the Forum was held at the end of February. The minutes are below.

Personally (and I haven’t been able to attend the meetings, so can’t blame anyone for this), I think it’s a shame that the southern boundary of West Hampstead ward delineates the edge of the area being considered (see point 6 below). There are pockets of both Swiss Cottage and Kilburn wards that could be considered part of West Hampstead (certainly in comparison to parts of Fortune Green ward, which abut Cricklewood Broadway).

I like the fact, however, that the emphasis is on making this process open to individuals rather than just the residents associations and community groups (see point 7). Although these groups often work tirelessly on various campaigns, they don’t necessarily reflect the area’s true demographics. If you’re interested in being involved with the NDP then do join in – it is early days for the whole concept nationally, so it’s hard to say now whether the impact will be substantive but, in my view, it presents a good opportunity in my view to help shape the area you live in.

1. Welcome & Introductions:
James welcomed everyone to the second meeting of the Forum.

2. Minutes of the last meeting – 25th January:
There were no corrections.

3. Further questions on NDPs:
Michael asked what NDPs would look like. James said it wasn’t clear as there are no final examples to look at; some are being drawn up in pilot areas. Sue said research online can give an idea of what people in different places are aiming at. James said the finalised regulations, which will set out how NDPs work and need to be established, won’t be published until early April.

4. Initial work – recent developments:
James said he was aware that some people were keen to start work on the plan; there were complaints that the first meeting focussed too much on process. He said he wanted to take up a suggestion from Mark Stonebanks to start work on an initial project, which will aim to form the basis of the Plan. It will focus on looking at existing and recent developments in WH&FG. James asked for volunteers to come forward and offer to get involved. It’s hoped this work will be reported back to the Forum in March or April.

John said such a project needed to set out what is/isn’t acceptable and give examples. Sue said the work could reflect the recently published draft Place Shaping document eg the desire to protect the ‘village feel’ of the area.

5. Place shaping workshop – 8th February:
This was held to discuss Camden Council’s draft Place Shaping Plan (PSP) for West Hampstead. The PSP aims to reflect the views of local residents in terms of what they want the future shape of WH to be. It will be given to developers planning to build new developments in the area. It was questioned whether developers would pay any attention to the PSP or the NDP – unlike PSPs, NDPs will have a statutory role in the planning process. Cllr Bryant said the PSP would also be used in the development of council owned and private development sites. It was pointed out the PSP is a very generalise document setting out ‘an outline vision’ for the area. There was a feeling that the PSP should mention a future NDP – James said he would feedback this comment. Sue said the final version of the PSP would be useful when it comes to writing the NDP; she said we should aim to make the two documents mutually supportive.

6. Agreement on area to be covered by the NDP:
Following on from the discussions at the last meeting, it was agreed to largely stick to the existing ward boundaries of FG&WH. In the east, it was agreed to keep the boundary as Finchley Road. In the north, it was agreed to keep to the northern boundary of Camden borough. In the West, there was discussion about Cricklewood and Kilburn – James said he would find out about any plans for a Cricklewood NDP; John proposed excluding the Kilburn High Road from our area. In the south, it was agreed to stick to the current southern boundary of WH ward. A final decision on the NDP boundaries will need to be made at the next Forum meeting, so that our application can be made to Camden Council in early April.

7. Constitution:
A draft constitution had been circulated to members ahead of the meeting. There was discussion about membership of the Forum and whether it should be for individuals and/or groups. A number of speakers said they did not want the Forum to be a federation of associations, arguing it should be open to all residents regardless of whether or not they are members of a local group. The majority view was that membership should be for individuals, with groups invited to support/donate to the Forum. There was also discussion about a membership fee and how this would be imposed, and whether donations should be requested instead. James said money was needed for room hire and printing. There was also discussion about voting and how to prevent one particular group or part of the area dominating the Forum.  There were questions about how meetings would work and whether there was a need for steering committee.

James said he had noted the views expressed and would rewrite sections of the draft. A second draft will be circulated with the minutes and further comments invited. A final version will be put to a vote and adopted at the next meeting.

8. Funding:
A number of residents associations have offered to contribute the £50 suggested at the previous meeting. Funds will be collected once a Treasurer is elected and a bank account opened. One group had asked to see a budget; James said it was too early to be able to draw up a financial plan for the Forum. Nancy suggested bidding for additional funding. Money might also be available from S106 agreements with developers.

9. Future plans – March/April meetings:
James said the March meeting would vote to adopt the constitution and elect officers. An officer from Camden Council’s Place Shaping team would be invited. In April, a Planning officer will be invited to discuss the NDP rules and regulations.

10. Do we continue?:
It was agreed to continue with the Forum and go ahead with the NDP.

11. Any other business:
Camden Council’s Development Control Committee will consider the 187-199 West End Lane proposed development at a meeting on Thursday 1st March.
Gillian said WH councillors were canvassing views on the proposed development at 163 Iverson Road (the site of the former garden centre).
There are plans for an 18 day music festival on Kilburn Grange at the same time as the Olympic Games; Camden Council is asking for comments.
There is a London Civic Forum event to discuss NDPs on Saturday 3rd March.
Details were circulated about proposals to redevelop the King’s College site on Kidderpore Avenue.

12. Next meeting:
The next meeting will be on Monday 26th March at 7.30pm – venue tbc.