What is Fortune Green and West Hampstead Neighbourhood Development Forum?
We are a voluntary organisation which has been set up by amenity groups, residents' associations and individuals in West Hampstead in response to the Government's implementation of the Localism Act.
The main aim of a Neighbourhood Development Forum is create a document called a Neighbourhood Development Plan. This NDP is a statutory planning document, containing planning policies relating to our area, which will influence planners and developers when making planning decisions.
The area around the underground and railway stations in West Hampstead was designated an intensification area by the mayor of London in 2009 which will result in considerable development in the area. Whilst the area is surely due for renovation there many local people who are concerned that the final overall outcome will not match local aspirations. Although some development has already started, or has been approved, there is still power for local residents and businesses, through an NDP, to influence the overall final impact of the independent developments.
There is also concern that smaller scale development outside the area is not always in keeping with the needs and character of the area, and here an NDF can prescribe quite closely how the area will develop in the future.
What has happened so far?
At the end of 2011 an initial group was set up to explore establishing an NDF. Since then there have been monthly (now bi-monthly) open meetings of anyone interested where we worked on the process of setting up an NDF and discussed the major issues of planning concern.
It was clear that the small group that could attend the meetings would not give us a representative view of feelings in the area so at the Jester Festival in 2011 we had a stand explaining the NDF and a display of 21 photographs of new(ish) buildings around West Hampstead. Around 120 people responded to the simple question "love it or loathe it" to tease out what West Hampstead liked and didn't like. We also ran a survey based on a questionnaire which dug a bit deeper into people's opinions of the area. We had 180 responses to that survey. (The results of the paper and on-line survey are here and the photo survey here.
These results, and the results of LB Camden's "Placeshaping Plan" produced in March 2012 highlighted the important issues such as, a village feel, maintaining the integrity and identity of streets, the need for green spaces, a vibrant retail area (West End Lane).
Armed with this information the group approached LB Camden for formal recogition as the Fortune Green and West Hampstead NDF. This is part of the official process for becoming an NDF. After consultation, Camden approved our application on 9th May 2013.
We started drafting a plan and we hoped to complete it within a year. Indeed to have influence over the developments in the intensification area we needed to produce a plan as soon as possible.
The process was more complicated and time consuming than we had anticipated but we completed the final draft of our plan in January 2014, did our own consultation on it and passed it to LB Camden who assessed it and did their own consultation on it. It was finally approved by LB Camden to be passed to an external examiner for assessment. The examiner reviewed it, held an open hearing to seek clarification on some issues and approved it in January 2015. The referendum on the plan was delayed by the 2015 General Election, but was finally held on 9 July 2015 and was approved by 2,344 votes(93%), with 174 votes against, on a turnout of 14%.
The plan became part of Camden's planning policy in September 2015 and will be considered in relation to any planning application in the Forum's area. Since then we have been active in reviewing planning proposals, objecting where we believe they do not conform with the plan.
Since the referendum the forum has discussed what its role should be in the future, and the constitution was changed in January 2015 to reflect our new vision, summarised as:
West Hampstead Neigbourhood Development Plan. The map below shows the area covered by the Plan.