These are indeed “interesting times” : Covid 19 has made everything very difficult and often stressful. The Steering Group and Officers of the Neighbourhood Forum have been doing as much as they can online and are looking forward to the days when we can speak to residents properly.
The Steering Group managed a single proper meeting on 11th March before lockdown guidance and regulations came in. After that meetings have been via Skype or Zoom. We have had 3 virtual meetings and 4 subgroup meetings. Many of us have attended other virtual meetings related to the work of the Forum. The Forum has been represented at the Town Centre Management Group virtual meetings. We made a formal objection to an application for an “amusement arcade” in Fonthill Road. The application was refused although there may be an appeal. There is a supplemental planning application for the Andover Estate. Members of the Steering group felt that the some aspects could be improved in terms of energy efficiency and reduction of CO2 emissions.
The Steering Group can set up subgroups for specific tasks and can recruit other forum members to work on aspects of researching and generating the plan. We welcome volunteers!!
At the moment we have two Subgroups: Engagement and Planning. (Additionally we have a Communications and IT task force “COMS/IT that looks after the technical side of things, and a Planning subsubgroup on Transport.) These have proved an effective way of focusing on one stream of work at a time….
Clearly Planning must be informed by Engagement and vice versa. Planning is looking after the research necessary to creating our plan.
As the name suggests Engagement is concerned with engaging with those who have an interest in the neighbourhood area.
It is really important to find out what all of the communities that make up Finsbury Park and Stroud Green think about their localities and want to see in the future: the business and retail communities, those who rent, owner occupiers, those in the small and large estates as well as those who live in conservation areas. Neighbourhood planning is not a very sexy topic and it is hard to get people interested. Some of the problems in the area can be directly addressed in a neighbourhood plan but other matters are more peripheral and we may, together, perhaps be able to aspire, influence and encourage change.
Lockdown has not been fun but many have appreciated the reduction in traffic and traffic noise and the cleaner air. The vital importance of green spaces, large and small, has become very clear. We hope that a new way will evolve that will keep and enhance these benefits. A greater community spirit has developed spearheaded by the many mutual aid groups that sprang up quickly and that have done such excellent work. We hope this community spirit will continue and we are making contact with mutual aid groups.
We are stronger together – to make things happen, the Neighbourhood Forum needs more members! Suggestions for ways to recruit more people are always wanted. Your suggestions about ways we can engage with the communities in Finsbury Park and Stroud Green are needed: help us to think outside the box!
The next forum meeting will be held on Thursday, 20th February at 7:30pm at the Finsbury Park Trust, 225-229 Seven Sisters’ Road, N4 2DA (2nd Green Door via the bookshop).
We have a full agenda starting with a short talk by Henry Peterson the Chair of the St. Quentin & Woodland Neighbourhood Forum in North Kensington (see http://stqw.org/wordpress/). He will outline the experience and obstacles in the creation of a Neighbourhood Plan and will answer questions. Henry also works with Neighbourhood Planners London.
This will be followed by a short election to fill vacancies remaining in the Steering Group. Names of nominees will be sent to members before the meeting.
As part of the forum meeting and Steering Group elections this Wednesday 30th October at 7:30pm, Maggy Meade-King has agreed to give us a short talk on how the Highgate Neighbourhood Forum got to grips with constructing its Neighbourhood Plan, its vision and scope. She was the founding Chair of the Highgate Neighbourhood Forum and is now its Secretary.
The Highgate Neighbourhood Forum started in 2012 and their Neighbourhood Plan was approved in 2017. Their area covers parts of Camden and Haringey. Her talk will be very relevant to us and she is prepared to answer questions. Their website is impressive: https://www.forhighgate.org
Our next Forum Meeting will be on Wednesday 30th October 7:30 at the Finsbury Park Trust.
Chief items will be election of Steering Group (and Treasurer).
Volunteers for Steering Group membership welcome!
After this Forum Meetings will be less frequent (probably every 4 months).