Highgate calls for its own identity

AN influential amenity group has submitted plans to the government for Highgate to be identified as one unified area under the postal code N6 –rather than being defined by the different local authorities that control it.

At present the north London enclave is split between the boroughs of Camden and Haringey, while its northern and southern edges come under Barnet and Islington.

But the Highgate Society has now proposed that the district be recognised as one neighbourhood within its geographical rather than local authority boundaries.

The Society, which has around 1,400 members, made the proposal with a view to Highgate becoming one of the communities handed greater powers over the running of their own area.

The new rights will be conferred by the Coalition’s Localism Bill, currently going through parliament.

The bill, which was unveiled in December, has been heralded a landmark shift in power from central government to communities and councils.

Under the legislation, local residents will be given new rights to buy threatened community assets such as libraries, draw up ‘neighbourhood plans’ and take over the running of council-funded services like meals on wheels.

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The bill will also allow them to have more influence over the planning process and make it possible for them to propose their own developments.

Representing the Highgate Society, Maggy Meade-King put forward the suggestion to create an N6 community to the Localism Bill scrutiny committee last month. She said that the division of Highgate between different councils has made “holistic planning” for the area impossible because of the lack of communication between the boroughs.

Urging the government to lift the ban on neighbourhoods with cross local authority boundaries applying for the devolved powers, she wrote: “We suggest that a more appropriate and effective geographical area to be deemed a “neighbourhood” in urban metropolitan communities is the postal district – in our case N6.

“Postal districts were historically set up around established villages and inner suburbs and so correspond to the names people typically use to describe where they live e.g. NW5 = Kentish Town, N10 = Muswell Hill, N8 = Crouch End and so on.”

Ms Meade-King also suggested other amendments to the bill including empowering civic amenity groups to advise local people in matters such as planning.

“While many established amenity groups, such as The Highgate Society, have wide experience of the planning system, many new neighbourhood groups will comprise interested and active people who have no experience or knowledge of what will no doubt remain a complex planning system,” she said.

Ms Meade-King expressed further concerns about the bill’s proposal that communities are only able to request more development and not less.

She argued that this will give local people little power to object to unwanted large scale building projects being foisted upon them.

The Localism Bill Scrutiny Committee is set to conclude on March 10.