'A Hampstead that's safe and walkable, with alternatives to cars'

Hampstead High Street. Picture: Ken Mears

Hampstead's Neighbourhood Plan was approved in 2018 - Credit: Ken Mears

It is eight years since the Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum began extensive public consultation on residents’ vision of our area’s future, leading to drafting of the neighbourhood plan that was approved overwhelmingly in a referendum in 2018.

Since then, much has happened. Climate change has made environmental issues ever more pressing. The pandemic has significantly altered the way we live, perhaps permanently. As if these stresses were not enough, we are living through a period of multiple crises: political ructions, rising inflation and now war in Europe.

During these turbulent times, most of us have appreciated, even more than we did before, the neighbourhood in which we are lucky to live. For example, last year’s survey by the forum showed that residents were extremely positive about Hampstead’s high street areas.

Alexander Nicoll

Alexander Nicoll is asking questions to ensure local goals remain appropriate - Credit: A Nicoll

Still, it is worth asking to what extent our aspirations for the future of Hampstead might be being altered by what is happening around us.

For example, one of the underlying aims of the neighbourhood plan was that Hampstead should be "enduringly green", with open spaces and trees well protected. Another was that it should be "safe and walkable, with good public transport and alternatives to use of cars".

If we were writing the plan now, would we put even more emphasis on these elements, and if so, what would be the implications in terms of appropriate planning policies? For example, do we have sufficient protections for trees? Could we strengthen air quality requirements in planning regulation?

A further aim of the plan was for "a community with good amenities, a sense of belonging and mutual support". In light of the shift towards working at home, the isolation that some may have felt, and economic pressures, are we sure that Hampstead has placed enough emphasis on the need for community? And again, if not, could planning policies be adjusted to support this?

We need to ask such questions so as to ensure that our local goals remain appropriate for the times, or whether they should be adjusted. If you have thoughts, please let us know at info@hampsteadforum.org

Most Read

Alexander Nicoll is vice chair of the Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum.