Brixton Neighbourhood Forum meeting with planners/ Cllrs 12th June

Discussion in 'Brixton Noticeboard' started by Gramsci, Jun 10, 2012.

  1. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    I heard about this only on Friday. Asked if I could put up details here. Brixton Neighbourhood Forum has recently been set up and is still at beginning stage. Brixton society suggested it to start with.It is in response to Governments policy of encouraging Neighbourhood planning. Also there was a Brixton Forum facilitated by the Council through the Brixton Town Centre mge. This was discontinued by Council.

    The Brixton Neighbourhood Forum is independant of Council and voluntary run. Meetings are normally once every 3 months at moment.

    This meeting was short notice as I was told it was difficult to get Cllrs and planner to fix date.

    here is relevant section of email:

    The Forum's meeting in April heard a presentation on Neighbourhood Planning from the Prince's Regeneration Trust.

    Over the past few weeks we have been trying to arrange a meeting with Lambeth's planners and Councillor Lib Peck, cabinet member for Regeneration, to get their view on how these new processes will work.

    After exploring various venues and dates we have settled on Tuesday next, 12th June, from 6 pm at Brixton Community Base, Talma Road, SW2 1AS (corner of Probert Road).

    Please note the earlier start time of 6 pm in order to catch a couple of the speakers before they rush off to other meetings - we therefore aim to finish c. 8 pm.

    Once again, we are opening this meeting to members of other forums and groups around Lambeth with an interest in Town Planning issues.

    In respect of Brixton itself, we have recently had pledges of support from Brixton Green and Transition Town Brixton, but we still need more groups and individuals to sign up as members AND we need to hear about specific ideas or concerns that you have.
  2. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    notes I made of meeting:

    My Notes on Brixton Neighbourhood Forum meeting 12th June 2012

    The meeting was called to discuss the possibility of a "Neighbourhood Plan" for Brixton with Council representatives. It was open to local amenity groups in other parts of Lambeth. Cllr Lib Peck (Cabinet member for Regeneration and Strategic Housing) and two Council Officers attended.

    Cllr Lib Peck spoke first. She said that the Brixton Masterplan that had been finished a while back. It focused on preserving the character of Brixton and sustainability. That the Council is committed to community engagement and a neighbourhood focus. As the Council is now a Cooperative Council.
    She said that planning and policy in the past had not been receptive enough to local people. The new Cooperative Council want to work more with local communities to shape local neighbourhoods.
    The recently passed Localism Act giving the right to a neighbourhood to agree a Neighbourhood plan provides one tool among many.
    A Neighbourhood plan , if pursued, would need to align with other planning documents. Including Lambeths Core Strategy and Supplementary Planning Documents.
    She said there was a problem with resourcing a Neighbourhood plan (NP)as the Council was not cash rich. She suggested that different area Forums in Lambeth agree to pool Council resources to enable NPs. Also decide what kind of support they need.

    After this there were several questions/ comments from the floor:

    Planners were not enforcing the already agreed Conservation Areas (CA). Which are put in place to protect character of an area.

    That agreed planning guidelines were not being used by Council to protect local communities from market forces. An example is the "Brixton Square" Barrats were building. A development of luxury flats. Initially the housing on this site was agreed as the site was owned by an RSL who were going to build an affordable housing development. This was sold to Barrats. It was pointed out that this site was zoned for light industry in planning guidelines. The whole problem of Barrats building luxury flats, that local people could not afford, could have been stopped if the Council/ planning officers had kept to agreed planning guidelines. So what does support for local community really mean?

    That a Neighbourhood plan would also need to align with the London Plan.

    The Council had recently agreed to limit the time that people can speak at Planning Committee meetings. This did not make planning more receptive to local people. It was done for convenience of Cllrs.

    Cllr Lib Peck answered:
    That there should be a deliberate attempt to engage people more earlier in planning applications. It then should not be necessary to have long discussions at Committee stage.

    The Brixton Masterplan that has been agreed did not have teeth. The Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs) for the Masterplan will do this. The consultation on them started recently . The Council now think that the consultation process should start one stage back. (?). There will be workshops soon.

    Officer also replied:

    Conservation areas were a planning tool that need to be regularly reviewed. There is team of officers to oversee CAs.
    Neighbourhood plans push boundaries as they affect other peoples property not just the Council owned land.

    It is questionable whether a Neighbourhood plan is applicable to a dense urban environment like London. It is more relevant to rural areas were there is an easily applied geographical area.

    She said the Council could put in £20 000 per area group. But that there are resource limits as stated by Cllr Lib Peck.

    Different area forums could work collectively to pool resources from Council.

    Neighbourhoods would need to be identified.

    More questions/ comments from floor:

    Officers were asked what work they had been doing on furthering the Brixton Masterplan. There had been rumours for example that the Barrier Block would be demolished. Since the consultation on the Brixton Masterplan residents had had very little information.

    Officers did not answer but Cllr Lib Peck said that nothing had been decided.

    Cross border working of Councils needs to be looked at as it was difficult for groups to get this done.

    In Herne Hill there had been huge investment in time and energy of residents to make a plan. It was finished and that was the last anyone saw of it. How can residents know it is embedded in process of planning agreements?

    Cllr Lib Peck said that both the SPD and a Neighbourhood Plan would have planning teeth to ensure they were "embedded".

    That cross border working should happen. In fact the Council was starting to do cross border working ,on other issues, with other boroughs to save money.

    There was a lot of comments/ questions from floor and answers. I will try to summarise the issues raised rather than attempt verbatim account for this section.

    Would a NP ( or SPDs) deal with social issues such as jobs for local people. Did Barrets employ local people on there building site?

    Community changing and people feeling sidelined

    Cllr Lib Peck answered that the Council understood that that people can feel dis empowered and alienated. That the Council wanted to engage with local communities in process of developing an area. That the Council wanted to start discussion on SPDs and invite people to workshops. This was long term process. The new Coop Council wanted to use “Co-Production” methods.

    Someone else said they were a sceptic about this process. That they has lived in area for decades. Concerned about Councils relationship with big developers.

    Example of Electric Avenue given as place where planning agreements were not enforced. Also the Popes Road Car park which was removed for Tescos Ice Rink with agreement of Council. Even though it was against agreed protection of parking for the market.

    Planning commitments protect an area and the Council is not enforcing this protection.

    Streatham said they had already done there own consultation and there NP was ready to go.

    That in Brixton “reverse social engineering” was going on. The Council was “following the money” rather than needs of local communities who were being pushed out. This was happening all over London. The whole planning system was corrupted.

    Cllr Lib Peck said that the Council wanted Community engagement, the expertise was in this room, the Council was able to supply a sliding scale of support, there were challenges for officers to do this in a Cooperative way.

    Lib Peck then had to leave for another meeting. Officers also left. She had been there almost 2 hours.

    There was a discussion after the Cllrs and officers had left. Here are notes of it.

    That children of people who came here as part of Windrush could not afford to live in Brixton.

    That all the input that residents put into consultation could all be for nothing. But this cannot be helped. There is a slow staff turnover in Council and new staff are more in tune with Councils idea of engaging people (Co-Production) rather than top down Council Officers know best.

    That there are at present 4 groups who may do a neighbourhood plan. The Council is offering £20 000 per group. So this is £80 000. This is an opportunity.

    There are 2 parallel conversations going on. One ongoing about SPDs and one about NP. There is early stage consultation on SPD. Could slog ahead for 2 years on NP. The crunch is how to make it enforceable by planning as they do not have a good record on this.

    Market forces are having effect on Brixton. Rents are going up in Brixton Village for example. There are new communities and other older communities are getting marginalised.

    The Brixton development process by Council is not transparent.

    NP by local groups can be done using a variety of resources like a Wicki-site.

    It was pointed out that the Brixton Masterplan is a good document. It contains social issue such as protection and retention of existing communities. The question is if it will be fully implemented by Council.

    The Brixton Masterplan along with the SPD consultation could be used to do a Neighbourhood Plan. All the info was there if the Council officers wanted they could easily turn this into a Neighbourhood Plan.

    Many people are “Time poor” and do not have endless time to go to a lot of meetings. Doing a Neighbourhood Plan was a lot of commitment.

    That in past developers had wanted to build office blocks. Now it was luxury housing. A Neighbourhood Plan would be done to have a balance in community, protect some uses, have a variety of uses and amenities.

    The issue of the Ritzy using Windrush sq was brought up. Pointed out this excluded some people from a public square. It was Officer decision to allow it by the Parks department. Windrush sq was part of Rush common and made to remember the “Windrush” people who came here from Caribbean. There was disquiet that this decision ( to allow use by Ritzy Cafe) had been made without consultation.

    The Localism Bill which allows Neighbourhood Planning also affects Council and RSL housing. The Council had made a , badly drafted , “Flexible Tenancy Policy” that had not been consulted on despite Coop Council . This was after, as a Labour Council , they said they would not do this. The bigger picture is that the present Government wants to get rid of social housing. This will be bad for community as a whole. “Flexible tenancies” are the thin end of the wedge.

    The meeting was wound up. Those who may be interested in starting to work on some aspects of NP were asked to give there contact details.
    nipsla and Mrs Magpie like this.
  3. Mrs Magpie

    Mrs Magpie On a bit of break...

    Thanks, I know how much time you put into all this.
    Gramsci likes this.

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