Neighbourhood planning 'failing to take root in London'

Neighbourhood planning is not working in London and it is unlikely that more than a handful of neighbourhood plans will be in place in the capital by the time of the next election, the London Assembly's planning committee has said.

London: neighbourhood planning failing to take root
London: neighbourhood planning failing to take root

A report by the committee found that only around 80 of London’s 1,200 neighbourhoods have expressed any interest in the neighbourhood planning process, and only one neighbourhood plan has been adopted so far – Norland in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

The committee said the lack of progress meant that the neighbourhood planning policy in London is in need of refresh.

It said it was difficult to pinpoint reasons, but added that evidence suggested the policy was designed for "smaller, more homogenous areas than London".

It said: "London’s complex network of mixed communities with diverse interests seems to make even defining neighbourhood areas a difficult and time consuming process – and this is just the first stage of the process."

The report outlined that areas that have managed to overcome this barrier appeared to a "number of favourable conditions already in place".

"Areas with established community and interest groups, in relatively affluent neighbourhoods with access to professional expertise have managed to galvanise themselves into action," it said.

"Other areas, without these advantages, have found the challenges too great to overcome."

Nicky Gavron, chair of the planning committee, said the committee agreed that the idea of neighbourhood planning is "a positive one".

"But with only 80 of London’s 1,200 neighbourhoods expressing an interest in this new planning process, we think that the policy is in need of a refresh in London to make it work more effectively," she added.

Meanwhile, the committee also looked at progress towards the community right to bid measure that allows community groups to nominate land and buildings as assets of community value

It said here "the picture is a little more encouraging", noting that there are now more than 100 listed assets.

It said: "The process is simpler than developing a neighbourhood plan and perhaps more tangible to local people … However, we have found the approach to listing these assets by boroughs to be inconsistent and the necessary skills required by local communities difficult to bring together."

The committee said the report provides an opportunity to develop ideas about how to progress these aspects of the localism agenda in London, including whether mayoral involvement could help.

It is seeking views on why interest in neighbourhood planning is so limited, and why progress is so slow. It is also asking for feedback on whether enough support is being provided.

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