What is a neighbourhood forum?
A designated neighbourhood forum is an organisation or group empowered to lead the neighbourhood planning process in an area where is no town or parish council. To be designated it must have a membership of at least 21 individuals who live or work in the area or who are elected members for a local authority that includes the area. Ham and Petersham has applied and been designated a Neighbourhood Forum.
What is neighbourhood planning?
Neighbourhood planning gives communities direct power to develop a shared vision for their neighbourhood and shape the development and growth of their local area. They are able to choose where they want new homes, shops and offices to be built, have their say on what new buildings should look like and what infrastructure should be provided and grant planning permission for the new buildings they want to see go ahead. All of this has to be within the strategic needs and priorities of the wider local area.
How does this work?
The NF is engaged in drawing up a neighbourhood plan which will then be put to a local referendum. If agreed, it will become part of the statutory development plan.
What’s happened so far?
A group of local residents organised an open meeting with over 200 people to launch the NF in early 2013. A second open meeting was held in September 2013 during which smaller groups began to pool ideas around themes such as travel/transport and education/youth. Also at this meeting, a constitution was adopted and this resulted in the establishment of a Forum Committee chaired by Maggie Bailey, (Grey Court Head). Brian Willman took over this role in March 2015. This Committee is composed of local residents and representatives of particular sections of the community such as schools and faith groups. It meets at least monthly and is making progress developing the plan by consulting as widely as possible. A Drafting Team chaired by Lisa Fairmaner is responsible for actually writing the plan.
There have been two other public meetings, the last was in June 2015. We have leafleted residences in Ham and Petersham and a two-day drop in event was held at Ham Library in 2014 so that people could make comments. We have visited schools and organised stalls on Ham Parade, outside Sainsbury’s and at Ham Fayre. We have an active website where people can leave their comments. In early 2014, we held six drop in workshops at Ham Library to consult on various parts of the draft plan.
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