NPA AUTUMN 2017 UPDATE
Development at last? The college was vacated 19 years ago and demolished 17 years ago.
Graham Pycock 30 November 2017
The volunteer ambassadors for Norwood Planning Assembly have continued to spread the word and recruit supporters. At the same time, a survey has been carried out at the Feast market and with local groups. Results will be published on the NPA website revealing public views about priorities for improving Norwood. NPA now has over 1500 supporters. “Designation” under the Localism Act was finally achieved last July. There are supporters who have volunteered as “convenors” for three of the planning policy task groups, concerning business, retail and transport.
Large developers are well aware of the importance of neighbourhood planning and continue to approach the NPA Steering Group at an early stage in producing their proposals. The Steering Group does not claim to speak for Norwood without public endorsement of a relevant NPA policy. Developers are encouraged to obtain public involvement, which NPA can facilitate, well in advance of planning application. The public meeting on 28 November has been called to consider the strategy for “Site 18” on Norwood Road, between B&Q and Iceland (the Retail Heart of Norwood). At the same time Greencourt developers has agreed to provide a presentation of its proposal for the old laundry property which is part of site 18 (see below).
Apart from generating public debate about Site 18, it is crucial now to move forward with public involvement in developing the various parts of the Norwood Neighbourhood Plan. NPA remains handicapped by the continuing reluctance of the council to deliver on its “duty to support” neighbourhood planning. On the other hand, support will now be forthcoming from EACOM consultants who will aid and resource NPA’s public engagement. This is funded by “Locality”, a national body which supplies technical support for very complex neighbourhood planning. Future events will encompass Norwood’s vision and objectives for the neighbourhood plan, together with developing planning policy for housing, green issues etc (see below). A note of a chronological series of key events/meetings during the autumn is set out below.
LAMBETH LOCAL PLAN REVISION
19 October: The NPA was invited to an initial meeting about the council’s revision of the borough plan (Lambeth Local Plan). This is the beginning of a long process of consultation, see: https://www.lambeth.gov.uk/consultations/lambeth-local-plan-review-2017. The NPA has floated the idea of using the old college site on Chapel Road and Knights Hill (vacant for 17 years) for a self-build housing project. The NPA thus suggested changing the Lambeth Local Plan to take the old college site out of the Norwood “Key Industrial and Business Area” (KIBA). The council view is adamantly against a change of use of the site to housing. It appears from the leading questions in the council consultation on the website that the council is in any case reluctant to support self-build housing, see: https://www.snapsurveys.com/wh/s.asp?k=150485737591.
NPA also requested that the council should cooperate with NPA in writing the Norwood section of the revised Lambeth Local Plan. It was argued that this section about Norwood was entirely separate from neighbourhood planning. The council will take note of any comments that NPA might make. It was repeated that the council has no resources with which to support neighbourhood planning. Other matters were discussed. The note taken at the meeting (despite a reminder) has yet to be supplied.
Subsequent to the meeting, NPA has realised that there is a proposal to create a new KIBA in Norwood on the railway site off Knollys Road, see: https://www.lambeth.gov.uk/sites/default/files/pl-summary_of_KIBA_changes.pdf. Essentially this is to replace employment land used for development in the north of the borough. NPA has also since found out that the council is intending to construct temporary industrial / business units on the old college site.
KNOLLYS ROAD RAILWAY SITE PROPOSALS
2 November: NPA has been consulted about changes to the proposals for the railway yards off Knollys Road by Hardhat developers. This now includes construction of a footbridge over the railway onto Leigham Vale. This opens up the site and creates a new pedestrian route to Tulse Hill station. The mixed development is substantial, with business uses and 550 housing units. However, the council is proposing eventually to designate this site as a new KIBA, excluding housing. There will be a consultation meeting organised by Hardhat on Saturday 2 December 11.00 to 3.00 in the Salvation Army Hall.
DIRECT PLANNING SUPPORT TO NORWOOD FROM “AECOM”
9 November: NPA has successfully applied for a package of practical and technical support from EACOM, the consultants employed nationally to assist neighbourhood planning groups. Two AECOM consultants were taken on a tour of Norwood to review the key sites. NPA was required to make the case for support and highlighted the key planning challenges in Norwood, such as the run-down High Street from St Luke’s to Elder Road. NPA has received the largest support package available. AECOM will organise and pay for a series of public events after Christmas covering; Norwood’s vision and priorities, Green Norwood, Prosperous Norwood and Accessible Norwood.
OLD LAUNDRY SITE PROPOSALS
28 November: Greencourt Property invited the public to consider their proposals for the old laundry site (6 Landsdowne Hill) which is part of “site 18”. There was a poster display of this mixed office and housing development at the Salvation Army Hall on the 31 October. Further consideration was given at the joint, Forum, NAG and NPA meeting on 28 November, where Greencourt gave a presentation. Following detailed discussions, with notes taken, a report will be produced about the specific proposal from Greencourt and possibilities now for the whole of Site 18.
LOCAL PLANNING BY LOCAL PEOPLE
The Localism Act empowers local people to produce their own neighbourhood plan which has to be passed by the local electorate in a referendum. Volunteer citizens are the drivers. Over 100 neighbourhood plans have already been passed by local votes held throughout England. The Norwood Planning Assembly is exceptional in three ways. Firstly NPA won the argument for an area covering West Norwood as a whole (it is the largest in London); secondly it is held accountable by the two key community groups (NAG and Norwood Forum); and thirdly it has a growing support base of over 1500 people.
From this autumn NPA is to benefit from substantial financial support and expertise; the AECOM package. NPA can now mobilise the many people who have pledged support but have been waiting for so long (our apologies). Despite its “duty to support” neighbourhood planning, the council continues to promote its own Norwood “masterplan refresh”. Over £200,000 has been spent on consultants and initiatives in Norwood separately from neighbourhood planning. NPA’s current work plan proposes drafting the plan and policies, passing official “examination”, with a referendum in just over two years. It would be possible to achieve the Norwood Neighbourhood Plan in less time, depending upon resources and council support. In the meantime, draft planning policies are a “material consideration” in planning applications so that local people can already influence planning decisions.