Hackney rejects fresh designation bids by rival neighbourhood planning groups

Attempts by two rival community groups to take on neighbourhood planning powers in an area of north London have been rebuffed for a second time by a local authority over concerns about community cohesion.

Hackney: council rejects fresh neighbourhood powers bid
Hackney: council rejects fresh neighbourhood powers bid

The London of Borough of Hackney had rejected applications by two groups to become neighbourhood forums in July 2013 because of fears about "community tensions" over development issues.

Rival applications were submitted by the Stamford Hill Neighbourhood Forum (SHNF) and the North Hackney Neighbourhood Forum to become recognised forums under the Localism Act.

The successful group would have been granted powers to draw up a neighbourhood plan for their specified area, which both covered overlapping wards in the north of the borough.

But both applications were refused by the London Borough of Hackney’s cabinet, citing "clear tensions within the community in North Hackney" in relation to development pressures in Stamford Hill.

Instead, the cabinet decided to designate a much smaller area around the centre of Stamford Hill and invite bids from interested forums.

But the SHNF then submitted a new application to Hackney to become the Central Stamford Hill Neighbourhood Forum and draw up a plan for the designated area.

A second bid was then submitted by another group calling itself the Stamford Hill (Community) Neighbourhood Forum.

Hackney has now rejected both of the new applications. A report to the council’s cabinet said the two groups "appear not to have been able to resolve their differences and come forward with a joint forum application. It is clear that the complexity of the area in terms of social and cultural mix has proven a significant challenge for the local community in their aspiration to deliver a socially cohesive neighbourhood plan".

The report added: "…the tide of opposition to both groups’ submitted proposals would indicate that the deep-seated divisions within the community in this part of Hackney on planning issues remain unresolved. In the circumstances, it is considered that appointing either group as the forum for the Central Stamford Hill Neighbourhood Area would not be helpful to the process of bringing the community together to seek to resolve planning issues, but would merely exacerbate existing tensions".

The report recommended instead that the council push ahead with creating an area action plan (AAP) for the area. It said this "would have the benefit of bringing together the two groups and formulating a vision and plan for the area led by the council, which unites rather than divides the community".

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