With Spring in their Planning Steps, the Steering Team of the Neighbourhood Forum for King’s Cross is looking to a practical solution to get neighbourhood pangs and ambitions off the ground. A small group of local folk have been researching and progressing the set-up for nearly a year – the Forum, which is the necessary and legal vehicle for a Neighbourhood Plan, is a new approach to getting locals involved and powered-up in planning issues under The Localism Act 2012.
Read the article – Summary of Intent for Final Meeting, at: http://kingscrossneighbourhoodforum.com/2013/03/19/summary-intent-march-2013/
Zannthie, volunteer chair and facilitator for the project says:
“It is my greatest wish that there exists a sustainable Neighbourhood Forum for the whole of Kings Cross, however, as I step down after a year, there is no able committee and not enough active patrons to continue the original plan.
It’s a real shame because not only have we ‘cut the ground’ when it comes to such new local powers with much good work achieved, but the idea of a ‘Pan Kings Cross’ group which spans both Islington and Camden boroughs would bring the real community together for the first time. Once this is adopted we get a lot of opportunities for help and funding. I have been compelled to be involved since I first heard of the possibility via Kings Cross Development Forum, who conducted the initial work but needed locals to take it forward.
“I think we had assumed that more folk would come forward as the word got round and we got the message out as well as we could with little time and resources between a very small team – we could not even use a council photocopier to aid us! I have always tried to inspire and motivate others as planning is something which effects everyone everyday of their life, and a project like this is a great opportunity to build up skills, to network and to meet new people. I’ve met some wonderful folk as a result of being made redundant and spending my time, I now see, very wisely!
“I know my neighbours and urban community far better and have had the privilege of being mentored by senior members as part of the process. I have the opportunity to work with some of the characters and contacts I have met along the way in the future, and its fair to say that I cannot walk down a street anywhere within the proposed boundaries without feeling a connection to the whole ‘KX’ community as I say to myself: ‘Oh, thats where Chris, or Peter or Lizzie lives!’.
Moreover, by bringing the Neighbourhood Forum into existence, “it means that all those difficult, stressful and often angry battles fought by individuals and comparatively small community groups can be usurped by what would become the Neighbourhood Plan – without this the individuals have no legal power or advantage and would be forced to repeat this activity when any planning application comes up – if they see it in time.”
A good example of this is the Camden Town Hall Extension Building for which a marketing proposal came to light very recently for a replacement 26 storey tower once the occupants have moved to their brand new premises at Pancras Square N1C, in 2015. Friends of Argyle Square, on the doorstep of the site took on the ‘fire-fight’ and have a certain assurance that this height specification is now removed from sales and marketing strategy, however, the outcome is still to be confirmed. A network of Kings Cross workers and residents and users could have been involved very easily through an established Neighbourhood Forum even before the Plan is adopted, and the Plan itself could pre-determine reasonable heights for this section of the Euston Road opposite the gracious and recently refurbished St Pancras Grand building.
Zannthie says: “I did a few ‘vox pops’ on this issue, greeting and asking folk as they moved across the streets and station concourses in the eye of the Camden Council offices. I was met with horror and surprise as young and old alike were puzzled to think that anything like this would be allowed to happen – yet if they didn’t say what they felt, who was to know? Even bus users taking the journey past the iconic building were inspired to get clued up once I pointed out the peril to my travel companion.”
The first Neighbourhood Plan in the country was adopted following public consultation last week. The Upper Eden Neighbourhood Plan in Cumbria covers 17 parishes, with voter turnout in the referendum higher than the figure for the recent police and crime commissioner elections. The Plan will now be formally adopted by the council on 11 April and will therefore become material in terms of planning applications for development in the area covered.
So, the most desirable set-up is competing with the most practical way forward due to the need for progress in areas where there are active residents and workers coupled with delaying commentary by Islington Council over its areas for inclusion.
The Neighbourhood Forum for King’s Cross current steering team agreed at the last meeting on 7th March that: the most practical alternative to a single ‘Pan’ Kings Cross Neighbourhood Forum is to establish a collaborative approach between existing and emerging active groups and networks covering smaller areas and districts in and around Kings Cross, unless there is made known other groups of committed individuals who can drive forward the original aim.
Its not too late to put this right if you want to get involved to ‘club together’ in the most desirable set-up. You will however, need to be able to commit to a certain level of action – but an action shared is more than an action halved, right?
The last meeting of the current steering team is 7-9pm Thursday 4th April in The Council Chamber at Camden Town Hall, Judd Street WC1
Read the article in full – Summary of Intent for Final Meeting, at: http://kingscrossneighbourhoodforum.com/2013/03/19/summary-intent-march-2013/
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