About Neighbourhood Plans & Forums

What is a Neighbourhood Plan?
Neighbourhood planning was introduced in 2011 through the Localism Act. Neighbourhood planning allows local residents and businesses to have their own planning policies in a neighbourhood plan that reflect their priorities, deliver tangible local benefits and have real weight in planning decisions.
In very simple terms, a neighbourhood plan is:
• A document that sets out planning policies for the neighbourhood area. Planning policies are used to decide whether to approve planning applications
• Written by the local community, the people who know and love the area, rather than the Local Planning Authority
• A powerful tool to ensure the community gets the right types of development, in the right place.
• It can protect areas from types of change (such as too much of one type of business)
• It can include policies to influence new building design, or alterations to existing buildings
• It can protect or propose the creation of open spaces (allotments, play areas, parks and gardens, and important historic assets)
• It enables the local community to retain more of the money collected from development, to spend on local projects
• It gives us, the residents of the Roman Road Bow area, more say and control over our community
• It enables us to ensure we protect the things we value the most
• It enables us to manage change effectively and ensure they benefit our community
• It allows us to encourage developers to build what we believe our community needs and wants. (such greater numbers of affordable houses, developments more suited to elderly residents)
• It can say where and what type of development should happen (new housing, or for businesses
A neighbourhood plan is an important document with real legal force, therefore there are certain formal procedures that it must go through: forming a committee, consultations, agreeing the boundary, developing the planning policies, and finally delivering a referendum.
The role of the Forum and its Steering Committee is to ensure that procedures are carried out to the satisfaction of the approving body, in our case the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.
Development of a Neighbourhood Plan must be done on a voluntary basis by local residents and businesses.
Neighbourhood Forums have a life of five years in law. The five-year life of the Roman Road Bow Neighbourhood Forum ended in August 2022, and a new application was therefore submitted for a further five-year term.
What does a Forum do?
A Forum is a group of local residents, businesses and community groups who share an interest in planning issues that impact the local neighbourhood.
As a Forum member you can have as little as much involvement as you like. This can range from joining the Steering Committee to attending the occasional consultation events. All Forum members receive newsletter updates and will have the opportunity to Vote on planning policies when they come to be written.
There must be a minimum of 21 people in a Forum but can be as many as several hundred. About 20,000 live in and around the Roman Road Bow area and we need representatives from all groups – local businesses, residents, charity workers, youth groups, schools, places of worship, councillors, market traders, and housing associations.
A Forum member doesn’t have to be able to attend every single meeting and event. If you can join us sporadically or temporarily we want to hear from you and to have your vote when decisions need making.
The Steering Committee
The Steering Committee is a group of local representatives who lead the Forum. The Steering Committee is essentially a working group that organises the necessary consultations, meetings and communications needed to bring the community together and identify key issues. The Steering Committee will commonly include members who contribute have specialist knowledge in the areas of public realm, health, development, transport, planning and town planning.
The role of the Steering Committee is to ensure the Neighbourhood Plan meets the timetable and standard necessary to submit it for independent examination.  The Steering Committee for the Roman Road Bow Neighbourhood Plan currently meets every three weeks and committee members are expected to contribute approximately an hour of their time per week on top of Steering Committee meetings and Forum meetings.
Join Forum
A Forum is a group of local residents, businesses and community groups who share an interest in improving their local area. As a Forum Member you can have as little or as much involvement as you like. This can range from joining the Steering Group to attending the occasional consultation event – it’s up to you. All Neighbourhood Forum Members receive newsletter updates and are able to have a vote on the planning policies being developed by Forum Members for the Neighbourhood Plan. After the Referendum, once the Plan is adopted, Forum Members can help implement the planning policies.
For clarify, you don’t have to be a Forum Member to vote in the final Referendum. Everyone living in our neighbourhood on the electoral role will be eligible to vote in support of the finished Neighbourhood Plan in the final referendum set for 13 October 2022.