What is it about Spitalfields?

Spitalfields is an area rich in urban heritage located in a prime development zone immediately adjacent to the City of London. It is a place where the planning needs of residents, business and visitors can struggle to find the right balance. Spitalfields is a cherished urban treasure under great pressure and facing many challenges.

What is Neighbourhood Planning?

Neighbourhood planning is a new right for communities introduced through the Localism Act 2011. Communities like ours can now prepare Neighbourhood Plans to influence the future planning priorities in their areas. These plans allow communities like ours to set out their vision for their local area and create their own planning policies to guide development in their neighbourhood.

In un-parished parts of the country like this, a Neighbourhood Forum with at least twenty-one community and business representatives may be established to develop a Neighbourhood Plan. Such plans have statutory status and must be taken into account by the local planning authority; LB Tower Hamlets.

In April 2016, Tower Hamlets officially designated the Spitalfields Forum and the Business Neighbourhood Area over which it has authority to develop a Neighbourhood Plan. Once we have drafted a plan, Tower Hamlets will organise an independent examination of it followed by community referendums to officially approve it.

Click HERE for a helpful video which clearly explains the basics.

For more detailed information please read this guide.

Why would a Neighbourhood Plan be good for us?

There are many instances in recent years when the people of Spitalfields have had to be reactive and respond to planning and development challenges as and when they have arisen. Such reactions are always costly and have often been 'too little, too late'. There have been numerous instances where we have lacked the necessary human and financial resources for success; particularly when compared to the extensive resources a determined developer can deploy. 

In short; the new neighbourhood planning powers under the Localism Act are the solution because a Neighbourhood Plan will empower local people to write their own planning guidelines and give them the tools they need to be proactive

A proactive approach will enable us to stipulate the types of development we would welcome before they happen and enable us to preempt the types of development we would prefer to avoid. Our planning guidelines could protect local open spaces and amenities, improve car-parking arrangements and even allocate specific sites for particular uses.

In addition to these powers to protect and conserve there are also planning powers available to develop and build. These constructive powers could be incorporated into the neighbourhood plan to help local businesses enhance and improve aspects of the local area and make Spitalfields a better environment in which they operate.

A Spitalfields Neighbourhood Plan would enable us to conserve what we love most and respond creatively to Spitalfields' ever changing horizons. 

This site is intended as a resource for the people Spitalfields as their neighbourhood moves towards achieving a measure of popular control over local planning decisions.

How would we get our own Neighbourhood Plan?


Since our designation the Forum has proceeded with setting up processes and systems to facilitate effective consultations on neighbourhood planning. To this end we have put a time table in place and sought to establish working groups in twenty-four small 'sectors' within our proposed neighbourhood area which share certain features or have specific needs. These working groups will consist of members of the SNPF Committee as well as ordinary Members of the Forum and any other people who live or work in the area or are just interested in the future of that specific location. Their views will all be sought as well as other people not taking part directly in the process but who these working groups will endeavour to reach out to share ideas.

In preparation for the Working Groups being established, Committee Members are currently getting to grips with the web of existing planning policies contained in the London Plan (Greater London Authority) and the Core Strategy and Managing Development planning policies produced by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. These policies will inform us of areas where neighbourhood planning can make a difference and shape the creation of our own Core Principles and Themes designed to guide the activities of the Working Groups.

The final stage involves local experts, residents and workers being assembled to help advise our Sector Working Groups write the Spitalfields Neighbourhood Plan which will form our own planning guidelines. Once written and approved by a specially convened meeting of the whole Forum the plan will be assessed for validity by independent assessors appointed by the Local Planning Authority and the Department for Communities and Local Government. If the assessors deem our plan to be valid it will then put to the people of Spitalfields for approval in a local referendum organised and paid for by the Borough Council.