Another bid for planning power in Hackney despite previous rejection a forum would create “major tensions”
PUBLISHED: 12:07 24 January 2014 | UPDATED: 12:13 24 January 2014
A community group has launched a fresh bid to take on neighbourhood planning powers in Stamford Hill, after its controversial application was refused by councillors last year.
Hackney Council rejected two vying proposals for neighbourhood forums in the north of the borough last July, following an intense battle between local campaigners, saying they would create “major tensions in the community”..
Neighbourhood forums are statutory bodies created by the coalition government’s Localism Act, giving communities new powers to influence planning decisions in their own area.
An application to create the Stamford Hill Neighbourhood Forum - spanning four council wards, Springfield, Cazenove, New River and Lordship, and stretching from Green Lanes to the Lea Valley - was submitted last January by Conservative and Lib Dem councillors.
But lobby group Hackney Planning Watch (HPW) accused the group of trying to take advantage of pressures on planning in the north of the borough for their own political gain.
HPW went on to submit an application for its own rival forum in March, the North Hackney Neighbourhood Forum, to wreck the plans of the first.
They claimed devolving planning powers to either of the proposed forums – including their own – would simply exacerbate pre-existing conflict over planning, and urged people to sign a petition opposing both proposals.
HPW was established by local residents 15 years ago when Hackney Council devolved planning decisions to neighbourhood committees – much like the proposed neighbourhood forums.
The area saw many extreme developments which are not now permissible, like high loft conversions and home extensions which could take up entire gardens.
Not long after Hackney Planning Watch took out a judicial review against the council over one extreme incident of malpractice, planning was re-centralised.
Cllr Linda Kelly has now submitted another application covering a smaller area, which Hackney Planning Watch claims is no different to the one rejected by the council last year.
They have accused Cllr Kelly and the Conservative party of trying to win political support and create a power base in the North of Hackney prior to May’s elections.
Ms Holgate said: “Disgracefully, Conservative Cllr Linda Kelly and her colleagues are exploiting community tensions over planning issues for her own political ends.”
The forum has repeatedly dismissed allegations they are trying to appeal to the orthodox Jewish community, saying it has support from all the communities in the borough.
Cllr Kelly who is standing as the Conservative’s Mayoral candidate in Hackney this May said she did not want to comment: “I am sure Planning Watch are very busy rallying their troops,” she said.
“We live in a democracy, we will wait until the consultation is completed, and see what the majority of the community has decided.”
Any comments on the new application must be made by Friday January 31.
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