Local Development Plans
There are two main plans which will influence the future development of the borough, Islington’s Local Development Plan or Framework (LDF) and the Mayor of London’s London Plan.
The Local Development Plan is a portfolio of the Council’s policies and strategies for the near and longer-term future and includes supplementary development plans which outline what is envisaged for specific sites in more detail. The most recent plan, which was finalised at the end of 2011, identifies action areas where the greatest amount of change is likely to be seen over the next 15 years. The wards of Bunhill and Clerkenwell (Finsbury) have been designated as an action zone, but the area covered by the Amwell Society was left out as it was felt that there was little scope for development in the New River Conservation Area. This does not mean that many of the management policies will not affect the area. Fortunately, these are mainly beneficial and support what we would like to see happen in terms protection for the environment and heritage. Although most of the action is taking place in the south of Finsbury, Mount Pleasant, which is going to be a major development site, and has its own supplementary development plan, is on our borders and will affect everyone living in the Amwell area.
The London Plan is concerned with transport and major cross-borough developments and infrastructure projects. It will also influence Islington’s housing, economic and regeneration strategies.
When anyone wishes to build, demolish or alter a building in our area, generally speaking, they must apply to the Council for planning permission, and the Council is bound by law to publicise the application. They usually put a notice on or close to the site and inform the neighbours by letter who can then look on the Council website for more detail. In the case of major developments a notice will be published in the local paper. The public is given a statutory 21 days to comment on the application, but the Islington Planning Department will receive letters of support or objection up to the date that the application is decided. Most applications for minor alterations do not go to the committee, but are decided by the planning officers. Larger developments will be decided by the planning committee which is made up of councillors who are advised by the planning officers, but will also hear the views of the public which carry equal weight provided they are well founded. The Council are able to place conditions or obligations on developers when granting planning permission, and if permission is refused the developer can go to appeal, which will be heard by a national government inspector.
As part of the planning department the Council employs enforcement officers who ensure that planning permission is sought and adhered to, and conservation officers who work with English Heritage to protect listed buildings from detrimental alterations. The Amwell Society has in the main found Islington’s planning department to be effective in enforcing planning regulations and guidance and protecting our heritage assets.
The streets which are covered by the Amwell Society fall mainly within the New River Conservation Area. This means that planning permission is required for virtually any exterior alterations, demolitions or additions which can be seen from the street, and applies to trees as well as buildings. If the building concerned is listed, as many in the area are, then internal as well as external changes will need Listed Building consent before the work goes ahead. Shopkeepers moving into the area may understandably wish to alter their shop fronts to reflect a change of proprietor and goods for sale, however it is important for them to familiarise themselves with the Council’s Shopfront Design Guide before making any changes, as a few have recently been obliged to dismantle their alterations. Our advice to anyone thinking of making improvements, is to check with Islington Council’s Planning Department, and /or look at their website before starting work.
The Localism Act and Neighbourhood Planning.
Parliament has recently passed the Localism Act and published the National Planning Policy Framework. Among other things these attempt to simplify the planning system and devolve greater powers and freedoms to local authorities and neighbourhoods. The Act introduced Neighbourhood Planning which gives communities a direct say in what must be included in the Council’s Local Development Plan. The Amwell Society considered whether there would be any real benefit in setting up a Neighbourhood Forum for the area in order to devise an Amwell Neighbourhood Plan, but decided that the whole process would be so time consuming and expensive it would not be worth the effort, as the scope for development in the area was limited and what we might want to achieve could be done by other means.