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The Interim Kirkstall Neighbourhood Forum now has its own website at http://kirkstallforum.org

A group of Kirkstall residents, local businesses and local councillors has applied to the Council for designation as a Neighbourhood Forum under the Localism Act. Once designated by the Council, this Forum will prepare a Kirkstall Neighbourhood Plan, which gives local residents better control over new development, and greater influence over the spending of local funds.

Public Meeting in Paxton Hall

A Public Meeting of the Interim Neighbourhood Forum took place in Paxton Hall on 15 September. Ian MacKay (Leeds City Council) reported that the Kirkstall application for registration had been advertised by the Council, and the public consultation would close on 2 October. Formal recognition as a Neighbourhood Forum could be expected about two weeks later. Work could start from that point to elect officers and a committee, open a bank account and apply for funds. The boundary dispute with Headingley Forum might take a few days to resolve, but this was not expected to be a major stumbling block and no reason to delay the rest of the project. Members then discussed which local issues they wanted to tackle first when building their Neighbourhood Plan.

Downloads

Boundaries

The current proposal from the Interim Neighbourhood Forum (which the Council is still considering) is to designate an area covering the whole of Kirkstall Ward (the area shaded light green on the detailed map below). This is a relatively large base, and the Council might not accept it, although most of the alternative arrangements appear less satisfactory. There is a partial overlap with the previously designated area for the Headingley Neighbourhood Forum around Foxcroft Mount, Queenswood Road, Queenswood Gardens, Queenswood Rise and the southern end of Queenswood Drive. This overlap causes significant problems for Kirkstall residents because the existing Headingley boundary splits the operating area for the Queenswood Tenants' and Residents' Association (QTARA) in half. Negotiations will be necessary to resolve this issue.

Kirkstall District Centre and Kirkstall Forge are expected to be the main drivers for local economic development. These sites are plainly of great interest to people living nearby, but their large size makes them relevant to people living much further away. Some Kirkstall issues, such as peak time traffic congestion, affect the entire ward. Other matters have only local relevance, but residents may benefit from external support. If the plan boundary falls short of the ward boundary, this leaves "orphan areas" which have limited say in these planning debates. These orphans may also be denied access to significant funds.

Full details of the Neighbourhood Planning Process can be found on the Leeds City Council website at http://www.leeds.gov.uk/council/Pages/Neighbourhood-planning.aspx Anybody who lives, works or does business within the designated area is entitled to join the Neighbourhood Forum, and participate in the election of officers and the planning policy debates. You can download the Application for Designation and the Draft Constitution here. If you want to take part and to register as a founder member of the Kirkstall Neighbourhood Forum, please email Cllr John Illingworth giving your full name and street address and he will add your details to the list. The Forum will invite you to the Inaugural Meeting in due course.

Neighbourhood Planning was introduced by the Localism Act 2011. It allows Town and Parish Councils to prepare their own local plans which influence development in their local area. Neighbourhood Forums perform a similar function in non-parished areas such as Kirkstall. Neighbourhood plans cannot propose less development than the local plan (or core strategy), but they can propose more homes or businesses, or alternative sites, or higher design standards.

There can only be one Neighbourhood Forum in each area. Leeds City Council must consult with the community before agreeing to its formation and the area boundary. The board or steering group must reflect the local community, including residents and businesses. The forum must have at least 21 members including at least one councillor. Neighbourhood Forums can obtain financial support directly from their local council, and also from the Supporting Communities in Neighbourhood Planning Programme, which is administered by a consortium led by Locality / RTPI Planning Aid on behalf of Government.

Under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended), the Council has a statutory duty to assist communities in the preparation of neighbourhood development orders and to take orders through a process of examination and referendum. The Localism Act 2011 (Part 6 chapter 3) sets out the LPA responsibilities as:

In addition, legislation sets out who the relevant councils are with responsibility for arranging the referendum/s. The overall process can be summarised in the following diagram:

It is importand that the entire process is conducted transparently, and that all local interest groups are able to take part. The Leeds City Council website has an extensive section devoted to Neighbourhood Plans. The process starts informally, but becomes more disciplined and professional as the key issues are identified. The work of the Neighbourhood Forum culminates in a six-week period of Statutory Consultation on the proposed Neighbourhood Plan, which is then submitted to Leeds City Council for further processing.

The Council subjects the draft plan to Independent Examination to ensure tha the plan:

  1. has regard to national policies and advice contained in guidance
  2. has special regard to the desirability of preserving any heritage assets
  3. has special regard to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of any conservation area
  4. contributes to the achievement of sustainable development
  5. general conformity with the strategic policies contained in the development plan
  6. does not breach, and is otherwise compatible with, EU obligations (e.g. Strategic Environmental Assessment5)
  7. prescribed conditions are met and prescribed matters have been complied (legal and regulatory).

It is likely that this process will identify some conflicts and that the draft plan will require some modifications. The final version is subject to a minimum of 28 days publicity, culminating in a "yes | no" referendum, that may convenienlty be timed to coincide with local elections.

If the electors agree to the plan, then it has the full force of other planning documents in controlling local development.

Last updated 20 September 2015 at 10:31. Back to the top

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Promoted by John Illingworth, 37 Kirkwood Way, Leeds LS16 7EU