HOW THE NEIGHBOURHOOD FORUM STARTED
In 2011, when developers applied to demolish the historic Baring Hall Pub (built in 1882) in the centre of Grove Park and replace it with a block of flats, many local residents and campaigners came together with the Grove Park Community Group and the campaign successfully saved the pub from demolition.
The process of saving the Baring Hall Hotel highlighted the general absence of an overarching planning policy for Grove Park and the lack of a vision for improving the town centre.
This was greatly exacerbated by the fact that there was a long-running dispute between Network Rail and other bodies over who was responsible for maintaining the deteriorating bridge that supports Baring Road over the railway line.
The Prince’s Foundation
In what was to be the first of a series of community and stakeholder meetings, the Community Group invited The Prince’s Foundation to facilitate a Community Design Workshop in February 2012 for the area around Grove Park station in response to a number of issues:
- Grove Park’s potential to be a thriving local centre
- The quality of the public spaces and provision for pedestrians, people with disabilities and cyclists
- The vacant Baring Hall Hotel and parades of shops
Over 100 people attended and took part in the Workshop and produced this document. The Design Workshop provided a basis for taking our plans forward which included steps to improve the appearance of the town centre and the setting up of a Neighbourhood Forum. It is the forum which is creating a Neighbourhood Plan that must tie into existing national, regional and local authority planning policies.
Baring Road and Downham Way Public Realm Improvements
The results of the Community Design Workshop enabled us to successfully lobby for the council to apply for £1.2m from TfL and the Community Benefit Fund for significant improvements to the town centre. Lewisham Council were able to then prepare a consultation document called Baring Road and Downham Way Public Realm Improvements which provided a basis for consultation on improving the street scene. Detailed drawings are being drawn up and we are now waiting for their implementation.
Neighbourhood Forum to date
Of course, another key result of the Community Design Workshop was the agreement to begin the process of setting up a Neighbourhood Forum and creating a Neighbourhood Plan and in the summer of 2014 a consultation leaflet went to every home in the area. Basing his decision on the consultation, the Mayor of Lewisham designated Grove Park as both a neighbourhood forum and a neighbourhood area at the Mayor and Cabinet meeting of October 22nd 2014.
THE NEXT STEPS
From now on there is a continuing process of community engagement and this includes the Neighbourhood Forum Vision Day on Saturday 29th November at The Ringway Centre and the subsequent feedback session on Wednesday 3rd December at The Baring Hall Hotel. Following on from these meetings the next stages will include the following stages as laid down by the law:
Ongoing community engagement ►Development of policies, proposals, site allocations ► Statutory Consultation ► Submission to Lewisham Council Planning ► Independent Examination ► Modifications (if necessary) ► Referendum ► Neighbourhood Plan comes into effect (if referendum successful)
Meeting the Basic Conditions
The basic conditions for producing neighbourhood plans are specified by law:
- must be appropriate having regard to national policy
- must contribute to the achievement of sustainable development
- must be in general conformity with the strategic policies in the development plan for the local area
- must be compatible with human rights requirements
- must be compatible with EU obligations.
For further information and short video regarding Neighbourhood Planning can be viewed here. http://mycommunity.org.uk/programme/neighbourhood-planning/