Hull neighbourhood plan bid blocked over size concerns

Councillors in Hull have blocked the city's first bid to start drawing up a neighbourhood plan because they felt the proposed area covered would be too big.

Cecil Street, Newington, Hull
Cecil Street, Newington, Hull

The Newington and St Andrew’s Neighbourhood Forum applied to Hull City Council for designation of the body as an official neighbourhood forum as well as approval of their proposed neighbourhood area. This would allow them to start drawing up a neighbourhood plan.

But the council’s cabinet this week refused both applications, against the advice of officers, because members felt the area, which covered two electoral wards, was too large.

A report by the council’s city planning manager said the application by Newington and St Andrews to start a neighbourhood plan, which would be the first in Hull, should be approved.

The report said that council representatives "highlighted the potential difficulty (in terms of resources) and risk in preparing a plan for such a vast area – which comprises more 19,000 people and 8,500 households, around 250 businesses in the industrial area south of Hessle Road and around 50 in the Dairycoates industrial area".

But "the prospective forum confirmed their wish for such a neighbourhood area", it added.

A council spokeswoman confirmed that the applications had been refused because members were concerned that it was too large and requested that the forum reduce its size.

According to the Hull Daily Mail, deputy leader Daren Hale said: "I was under the impression these neighbourhood plans should cover smaller areas than the wards but these combine two of them. It is huge.

"These neighbourhood plans would have some control of development money but there would be a huge discrepancy between areas of Newington and St Andrew's.

"I want to support the idea of people taking ownership of their neighbourhoods but I can't support this giant monolith."

Dave Coates, forum chairman and manager of Lonsdale Community Centre, told Planning that, as a result of the cabinet decision, the forum last night unanimously agreed to split into two, between the areas of Newington and St Andrew’s.

He said the rationale behind the original application was that both areas were part of an area action plan to drive the regeneration of both wards.

Coates said similar concerns about the size of the area were raised by an earlier council committee but this emerged after the six-week consultation on their applications so the proposal could not be changed at that stage.

He said: "If we’d know earlier, we would have had the option to focus on making the area smaller or splitting it.

"But neither us or the council have been through this process before.

"The crucial issue for urban areas like this is: ‘What’s a neighbourhood and how big is it?’

"Now we want to focus on where we can make a difference and influence the area."

According to Coates, council members were also concerned about the suitability of including an old industrial area and abandoned dock, both in St Andrews, in the neighbourhood plan.

Coates said the area had been part of Hull's Gateway Pathfinder regeneration scheme, whose funding was withdrawn by the coalition government in 2010, leaving a number of derelict buildings that had been earmarked for demolition.

The cabinet report can be found here.

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