Report by Judith Burnett
Waltham Forest’s first-ever neighbourhood plan has been approved by Highams Park residents in a local referendum.
Voters braved bad weather to overwhelmingly support the Highams Park Neighbourhood Plan – with 95.7% backing it. There was a voter turnout of 22%, with 2,816 votes cast in total and only 120 people opposing the plan. Seven people spoilt their ballot papers.
The Highams Park Neighbourhood Plan will now be formally adopted by Waltham Forest Council, becoming official planning policy, meaning it will be used to help determine all planning applications which fall within the designated Highams Park area. It aims to ensure that Highams Park will “continue to be an area of beautiful, well-maintained green spaces, characterful high-quality homes with a thriving commercial centre and a vibrant community at its heart”.
Gordon Turpin, chair of Highams Park Planning Group (HPPG) which was behind the plan, said: “This is a great step forward and HPPG’s committee would like to thank everyone who turned out in such appalling weather to vote.”
HPPG was set up in 2013 with the aim of ensuring that Highams Park keeps its identity and community spirit while developing a strong local economy. The group developed a vision for the area, drawing in hundreds of residents in discussions about the future of Highams Park on themes including the arts, education, health, green spaces, health, crime and the appearance of the town centre. Sub-groups such as local traders met to develop strategies. Today approximately 1,000 residents are involved with HPPG.
Councillor Simon Miller, cabinet member for economic growth and housing delivery, said: “The massive 95.7% vote in favour of adopting the plan shows that it is in tune with the wishes of local residents. HPPG has put a huge amount of work into preparing this neighbourhood plan, which will be used alongside the Waltham Forest Local Plan and the London Plan, to help decide how this part of the borough could develop in future.
“We look forward to working with HPPG.”
The area included in the neighbourhood plan stretches from the North Circular exit at Woodford New Road, across Chingford Hatch, along New Road to Crooked Billet, via Larks Wood and Peter May Sports Ground.
View the Highams Park Neighbourhood Plan online: