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Highgate plan: Developers urged to stick to the rules on affordable housing

Camden and Haringey residents come together to say what they want to see in N6

10 March, 2017 — By Dan Carrier

Highgate Neighbourhood Forum committee members, from left: Martin Adeney, chairwoman Maggy Meade-King, Ian Henghes and Haringey councillor Liz Morris

ENSURING developers stick to rules regarding affordable housing is one of the key planks of the Highgate Neighbourhood Forum’s draft plan, set to be ratified by a public vote in June.

The Forum has been gathering evidence for four years to put together a planning policy document that will help shape the area over the next three decades.

It is due to be voted on in June, and one of the key aspects of the plan is to enforce the need for developers building in the area to make sure any affordable housing provision is in Highgate, and not shifted elsewhere in Camden.

If the June 29 referendum returns a “yes” vote, it will be integrated into the Town Hall’s planning laws for the area.

Covering everything from traffic issues and economic policy to preservation of open spaces and mixing commercial and residential development, Neighbourhood Forum chairwoman Maggy Meade-King said among the many facets of the plan is a call to ensure developers see the need for affordable homes.

She said: “Our plan has tried really hard to encourage affordable housing in Highgate. The enormous house prices are of course a problem – and we feel we have found one way of encouraging more smaller units for first-time buyers or for older people hoping to downsize but stay in the area.”

The Forum have taken the opportunity to bring both Camden and Haringey councils, who cover the area, together to have joint action over planning. Ms Meade-King added: “This is the first time there has been a comprehensive plan, drawn up by local people, which covers Highgate as a whole, regardless of which side of the high street you live. We have previously felt we have been forgotten because we are on the edge of two boroughs and it is not a place that has big developments taking place.”

The plan also highlights where people would like see to financial contributions from developers go. Known as the Community Investment Levy, it gives neighbourhoods the right to say how they want a proportion of cash levied on developers to go.

The plan has identified funding new “Hoppa” buses to increase transport links, enhancing Pond Square and turning a bus stand into a community space and building new playgrounds. As with other areas in Camden, the plan deals directly with issues over homeowners applying to build new basements.

Ms Meade-King added: “They are an increasing concern across N6. We want to protect both those who build and their neighbours.”

This includes persuading Haringey to follow the same tougher guidelines adopted by Camden. They cover the amount of movement in neighbouring properties, instructions over working hours that includes limiting it to six hours a day during the week and now weekend working time. Finally, the plan also adds a layer of protection to the Highgate Bowl, the site running next to Highgate High Street that used to be home to a garden centre and has been eyed up by private developers for luxury mansions.

The Highgate Bowl site

The plan offers it extra protection and the Forum say it will help a charity, who hope to buy it to protect it as open space, persuade its owners they will never be allowed to build housing on the site.

The plan’s “Vision for Highgate” adds: “It should be a vibrant place that protects its unique character and heritage, while embracing new ideas and beneficial change. It should be home to a community that can work together to meet local needs, while respecting its differences and diversity. It should be a neighbourhood that complements and connects with neighbouring communities. All of these factors combined should make Highgate a better place both to live and work.”

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