Long established community group the Limehouse Community Forum (LCF) has today (29 July 2013) formally submitted an application to Tower Hamlets Council to be designated a Neighbourhood Planning Forum (NPF).
The application was submitted 24 hours before the end of the consultation period for the Network Wapping NPF application on 30th July.
“With the introduction of the Localism Act the LCF has found it necessary to submit an application for designation as a Neighbourhood Planning Forum, although the Forum has more or less been acting unofficially in this capacity since 2006,” said Mark Slankard, LCF Chair.
Taking a defensive posture
“The new Act requires us to take a defensive posture to the possibility of excessive or special interest development, both from companies and from minority groups who may have hidden agendas, which would not benefit the local community.”
Words of warning to local communities in London
Mark went on to give this warning to established community groups:
“I urge all communities to protect themselves from outside interest as well as internal private agendas.”
The application to be designated a NPF by the Limehouse group, who have been undertaking all duties of any NPF and more for over seven years highlights the fact that the existing localism legislation is, in my opinion, fundamentally flawed.
Essentially any random group of people can submit an application to be a NPF in any area they chose regardless of the existence of long established community groups in the same area. And only one NPF can be established in any given area with no overlapping of boundaries.
In the case of Limehouse the random group of people is Network Wapping.
And in the case of Wapping the random group of people is Network Wapping.
So the only way Limehouse Community Forum can be sure of protecting their work of many years is by applying to be designated a NPF.
Network Wapping have been asked to redefine their proposed area of operation so that it does not encroach on Limehouse but have refused to do so.
Network Wapping – the group with no ears
But then Network Wapping has also refused to listen to the objections of the Friends of St Katharine Docks and Save KEMP so at least LCF is in very good company.
You may be asking why a rival NPF application forum has not been submitted to cover the Wapping area? An alternative NPF could include sensible things to do in Wapping, by people who live in Wapping, who are actually interested in Wapping.
Alas the weird way in which the NPF application process works means that until such time as the verdict on the Network Wapping application is made there is no point in any other interested group submitting another application. And as stated above only one geographic area can be come under any NPF.
If there was an established community group in Wapping then this, as with LCF, could apply for NPF status. But organising a NPF takes time (Network Wapping took a whole week…) and effort so it is just not practical at the moment.
Wapping wishes Limehouse well
So now all who have the best interests of our local community should wish Mark Slankard and the LCF well in their application. Oh and object to Network Wapping of course. Have I mentioned this before?