Referendum date set for UK’s first cross borough neighbourhood plan in Highgate
PUBLISHED: 17:34 08 March 2017 | UPDATED: 17:34 08 March 2017
People in Highgate could soon see new hopper buses, playgrounds and green space protected from developers - but they need to place one final vote to turn their dreams into reality.
A referendum on June 29 will allow residents to vote on the Highgate Neighbourhood Plan (HNP), which straddles both Camden and Haringey, giving them a powerful lobbying voice on protecting where they live.
The HNP, delivered by the Highgate Neighbourhood Forum (HNF) has been four years in the making, and can only address the development and use of land which is overseen and enforced by the two councils.
It was set up under the Localism Act 2010 to give the community more power over local planning matters.
A government levy on large developments called the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) means that when a Plan is in place, 25 per cent of CIL money must be spent in the area where the development is built.
Community aspirations have been identified in early polls and consultations and these include new hopper buses, a new playground at Hillcrest in North Hill, support for the Highgate Bowl food project and developing a community space in the former 271 bus terminus.
A number of policies include protecting trees, historic buildings, encouraging affordable housing, the promotion of walking, cycling and ‘green’ buses, have also been written up.
Maggy Meade-King, chairwoman of the HNF, said: “We are obviously absolutely thrilled as it’s been a very long process and sometimes it felt we would never get here.
“This is the first cross borough plan in the country which makes it extremely challenging as both councils have been writing new local plans in the course of us writing our own.
“It’s been like climbing a mountain, you turn a corner only to realise it’s a false top and you have to keep going but it’s also been a very interesting journey as we’ve done so much consulting we’ve got a good idea of people’s aspirations.”
The HNP is not confined to the village but stretches east to Crouch End, west to Hampstead and south to Dartmouth Park and in the coming months residents will receive polling cards with which they can vote.
Ms Meade-King added “We’ve identified a lot of green spaces, for example allotments which are precious and important. The council didn’t know they were there but now they have official protection. It’s more than simple planning. That’s why people have to come out and vote. This plan can only work if they do.”
Jill Kingaby, an independent examiner who had to approve the plan ahead of any referendum, said the forum “had a difficult job because the designated area includes parts of two London boroughs with different adopted and emerging local plans”.
“I commend the forum and those who have assisted the Neighbourhood Plan preparation for their hard work and the achievement of a well-structured and readable plan,” she said and added: “The Plan will protect and conserve the open spaces, public realm and historic environment of Highgate.”