Neighbourhood Planning forums potential conflict of interest – Tower Hamlets replies

Response from Tower Hamlets Strategic Planning – Plan Making Team re Neighbourhood Planning forums Conflict of Interests questions

Last week I emailed the nice people at Tower Hamlets Strategic Planning who deal with things like the establishment of Neighbourhood Forums.

My original email and the Tower Hamlets response are below. The interesting stuff is underlined (my emphasis).

My email to Tower Hamlets 08 May 2013

Further to my objection to the application by Network Wapping to become a Neighbourhood Planning forum I wonder if you could tell me what procedures are in place to prevent conflicts of interest?

Specifically I would like to know if it would be possible for a member of a Neighbourhood Planning forum to have any commercial links with property developers or owners who have plans for the neighbourhood in question?

Also what procedures are in place to prevent a property developer or a developer’s associates or agents from becoming resident in the neighbourhood in question then joining the Neighbourhood Planning forum and so exerting influence in that way?

I know Neighbourhood Planning forums will be overseen by the relevant Councils but the above issues do worry me and I would like clarification if possible.

Response from Tower Hamlets 13 May 2013

Thank you for your enquiry regarding the processes to manage membership of a Neighbourhood Planning Forum in Tower Hamlets.

During the process for establishing a Forum, conflicts of interest in relation to its membership are prevented using the legislation set out in the 2011 Localism Act (to amend the 1990 Town and Country Planning Act section 61F (5 – 7)) and the 2012 Neighbourhood Planning Regulations (regulation 8) alongside 2013 Tower Hamlets Neighbourhood Planning Guidance Note and Application Form.

The Tower Hamlets Guidance Note (stage 1) captures these legislative requirements in a manner which is designed to be easier to understand than referring back to the source legislation.

It provides further information as to what information the Council requires from prospective Forums to demonstrate how they meet these legal requirements and how the Council will determine the application (specifically on page 13).

The Application Form seeks to capture the submitted information in a uniform manner. In particular, the Council has asked that a short statement detailing the interests and relevant background of each prospective member be provided to ensure it has sufficient information to determine whether the Forum is representative of the area and to ensure there are no conflicts of interest (section 61F(5) of the amended 1990 Act).

Once the Forum is established, the management process continues using the legislative requirements for developing Neighbourhood Plans and Neighbourhood Development Orders. These requirements will also be supplemented by a forthcoming second stage of Tower Hamlets Neighbourhood Planning Guidance Note.

This Note will also detail how the ongoing membership of Forums are envisaged to be managed by the Council.

In answer to your specific examples, built environment professionals who are residents in a Neighbourhood Planning Area can be included in the membership of a Neighbourhood Planning Forum but any inappropriate influence will be addressed during the designation process of a Forum and during the rigorous processes for developing a Neighbourhood Plan and/or Development Order. 

In accordance with the above, the Council is confident that it has sufficient guidance in place for managing the membership during the establishment of Neighbourhood Planning Forums and will have sufficient guidance for the preparation of Neighbourhood Plans and Development Orders.

I hope the above information is useful, if you have any further queries please get in contact.

Strategic Planning – Plan Making Team

Directorate of Development & Renewal

London Borough of Tower Hamlets | Town Hall | Mulberry Place | PO Box 55739 | 5 Clove Crescent | London E14 2BG

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