YOUR Spitalfields - YOUR Neighbourhood

This is the website of the Spitalfields Business Neighbourhood Planning Forum

The members of the 2015-2016 Committee elected at the AGM on 27 July. 

The members of the 2015-2016 Committee elected at the AGM on 27 July. 

Spitalfields Business Neighbourhood Planning Forum (known as Spitalfields Forum) was agreed to be designated by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets at a meeting of its Mayor and Cabinet on Tuesday 5 April 2016.

Business Neighbourhood Planning Forums are formally constituted, local community associations empowered to take forward neighbourhood planning in areas without parishes which are wholly or predominantly business in character. 

In August 2014 the people who live and work in Spitalfields first came together and established a prospective neighbourhood planning forum after several months of formal public consultation and several years of behind the scenes work by local community activists.

Spitalfields Forum is administered by an elected committee who are bound by a written constitution and whose activities are applicable to a defined neighbourhood area.

We invite you to join us in making Spitalfields an even better place to live, work and do business.

Members of the Forum listen to presentations at the 2015 AGM.

Members of the Forum listen to presentations at the 2015 AGM.

Please take the time to visit the other pages of this site; particularly the Forum Members page where you can see a full list of the members of the forum; a detailed zoomable map of the Neighbourhood Area; and the Feedback page where you can tell us about planning priorities you think Spitalfields should have. 

The Spitalfields Neighbourhood Plan is likely to have a variety of bespoke planning policies applicable to specified places within the neighbourhood area. For example, it is most unlikely that a policy tailored-made for an historic residential street would also be considered appropriate for an adjacent area characterised by small businesses, licensed premises and shops.

The process of formulating local planning policies requires a period of intensive local consultation which is likely to begin in the New Year. Once the forum members approve any such plan it will then be assessed by independent assessors before being put before the inhabitants of the neighbourhood area for their approval in a local referendum. 

Next steps (updated April 2016)

The Committee has devised a Consultation Strategy which was formally endorsed at a General Meeting of the Forum held on 27 October 2015. Our Consultation Strategy is a structure for organising the writing of a neighbourhood plan with a system of very local consultations at its heart which are designed to engage with a broad range of people who live and work in different localities within our neighbourhood. These local consultations are organised by Working Groups focused on particular locales (e.g. "Brick Lane South") and will report back to the Committee their proposals based on the data they have gathered from local people living and working in that area. 

At the moment the Committee is drafting a Consultation Framework which each Working Group shall use. The first steps in doing this include a detailed understanding of existing planning policy (such as the GLA London Plan, the LBTH Core Strategy and the LBTH Managing Development documents) to see where their are opportunities for neighbourhood planning to make a difference. We hope to provide an update on our findings at the next General Meeting to be held on 26th April 2016.

For further information about neighbourhood planning is, please read on.

What is neighbourhood planning all about and how does it affect me?

The Localism Act (2011) introduced new rights and powers to allow local communities to shape new development by coming together to write their own legally-binding planning policies.

These locally produced planning policies are called "Neighbourhood Plans" and can be created by two types of body - town and parish councils or 'neighbourhood forums'. Neighbourhood forums are community groups that are designated by local authorities (e.g. Tower Hamlets) to draft neighbourhood plans in areas without parishes - areas such as ours in Spitalfields. It is the role of the local planning authority (Tower Hamlets) to approve the members of a prospective neighbourhood forum and approve it's neighbourhood area. 

Once our Forum has agreed on the Neighbourhood Plan the people of Spitalfields who live and work within the specified 'neighbourhood area' covered by the plan would then be asked to approve it in local referendums.

Neighbourhood Planning.jpg

Neighbourhood Forums use these new neighbourhood planning powers to establish general planning policies for the development and use of land in their neighbourhood. These are described legally as 'neighbourhood development plans'.

In an important change to the planning system communities can use neighbourhood planning to permit the development they want to see - in full or in outline – without the need for planning applications. These are called 'neighbourhood development orders.'

Typical things that our Neighbourhood Plan could include:

  • The development of housing, including affordable housing (affordable housing is housing that is not normally for sale on the open market), and bringing vacant or derelict housing back into use.
  • Provision for businesses to set up or expand their premises.
  • Transport and access (including issues around roads, parking, cycling, walking and access for disabled people).
  • The development of schools, places of worship, health facilities, leisure and entertainment facilities, community and youth centres, visitor centres, museums and village halls.
  • The restriction of certain types of development and change of use, for example to avoid too much of one type of use.
  • The design of new buildings.
  • The height of new buildings.
  • Protection and creation of open space, nature reserves, allotments, sports pitches, play areas, parks and gardens, and the planting of trees.
  • Protection of important buildings and historic assets such as archaeological remains.
  • Promotion of renewable energy projects, such as solar energy and wind turbines.

Neighbourhood plans can do a lot and we think Spitalfields would benefit enormously from having one. 

For more detailed information please read on.