The last few years have been something of a rollercoaster introduction to planning for me, which I’ve alluded to before when I’ve written in my ward reports about the work of the Strategic Development Committee. As well as gaining insight into a whole area of architectural language that I’d previously never heard of (architectural rhythm, anyone? London vernacular? Animated streetscapes?) it’s also helped me to see the ways in which residents can interact with the planning process. Being part of the committee that decides larger scale developments, we all see presentations from developers, as well as submissions from local councillors and from local residents, who often attend in order to object to proposals.
I often reflect after these meetings that once an application has come in, that responding to an application is sometimes not the most useful time or way for people to express their views. And I’m often distracted, as are my colleagues, by thinking about how we might get residents to contribute earlier on, to the planning policy that shapes individual decisions, and in effect forms the criteria by which approvals or refusals are granted.
Which is why I wanted to blog today about the Local Plan consultation. You can find all the information about the consultation here on the Newham website. There is also an article in the most recent Newham Mag, on page 29, entitled ‘Help shape your borough’s future’. This is just one part of an enormous consultation process to overhaul the documents and policies, and you can read about the whole process, including where this consultation fits in, online.
The Local Plan is the overarching document that sets out our approach to planning and development, and this consultation is an opportunity to make sure that it’s up to date. The consultation is a bit enormous, so I thought I’d highlight a few bits that you might be interested in.
Issues and options, Part 1: policies This is a bit of a beast of a document but has lots of really interesting information about our overall approach. I especially like the ‘you told us…’ ‘we already…’ ‘we are concerned that…’ approach which summarises responses given so far. It deals with some of the big ‘meaty’ issues like homes, and supporting businesses.
Issues and options, Part 2: Sites refers specifically to sites across Newham, including some in Forest Gate, so I’d recommend that you take a look at these. You can see the sites that are in Forest Gate in the contents list right at the beginning.
The consultation runs from Friday the 24th February until midnight on Friday the 7th May, and submissions should be made by email.