The Old Interim Oak Neighbourhood Forum currently has a membership of over 90 local residents and business representatives. As you might expect, many of us are involved in our local residents association or community group, or in other local activities. We are people who care a lot about what happens next in this part of London.
For most people, life is too busy to spend time attending meetings or responding to planning consultations. Planning issues are complex. Planners and developers communicate in a jargon-laden language of their own. This has been one of the main reasons we have tried to establish a wide neighbourhood area covering all the residential communities in and around Old Oak.
OPDC and LBHF decisions on designation of neighbourhood boundaries are a setback. But the Old Oak Interim Forum will continue to include everyone in the wider area who wishes to be involved, as ‘associate members’. The number of members within the much reduced area now designated by OPDC has grown in recent months, and a fresh application for formal designation of the Forum will be submitted. OPDC Board Chair Liz Peace has committed to this application being processed swiftly, with the necessary further 6 week statutory consultation.
Once the Old Oak Neighbourhood Forum ceases to be an ‘interim’ body, an open forum meeting will be held to elect members of a management committee. Much of the detailed preparation of a neighbourhood plan will fall on this committee. All members of the forum will continue to be invited to a series of public meetings at which they can give their views on the content of the Plan.
As is the case in every neighbourhood area, the completed version of the draft plan and its policies needs to command the support of a simple majority on the electoral roll of the designated neighbourhood area. If policies are supported only by a narrow interest group, or by only one part of the neighbourhood, the plan will fall at the referendum stage.
We remain keen to ensure that all geographic parts of the Old Oak area have the chance to make an input, not only to a draft neighbourhood plan but also to responses to OPDC consultations and to a continuing dialogue with OPDC and LBHF. Members who have been most heavily involved to date are:
Mark Walker, chair of TITRA (the Island Site Residents Association) has also been involved in HS2 lobbying and in protecting the future of a set of unique streets of Victorian houses in a conservation area, lying in the midst of heavy industrial areas in the OPDC area, particularly Powerday. Mark has been chairing the Interim Forum since 2016.
Tom Ryland chairs the Hammersmith Society. The Society has a long track record of working to improve the quality and design of the Borough’s urban fabric and conserve its heritage. It runs an annual award scheme for good and bad architecture in new developments.
Teresa Magee, chair of the Wesley Estate Residents Association and fighting to ensure that these streets of 1930s housing, isolated within Park Royal, are stitched back into the fabric of a new Old Oak.
Stewart Dalby, chair of the Friends of Wormwood Scrubs — a body which has worked over the past two decades to ensure that the Scrubs retains its ecology and ‘wild’ nature while continuing to serve Londoners as a whole an area for walking and recreation.
Ewa Cwirko-Godycka, who with her husband Dariusz has represented the case of residents of Midland Terrace during several years of battles with HS2 and who has ensured that the profile of this street of Edwardian houses and neighbouring Shaftesbury Garden flats are not ignored in OPDC plans. Ewa acts a secretary to the Interim Forum and runs the Forum’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Several members of ArtWest, a group of artists and makers occupying 50 studios in buildings within the OPDC area. Developers and planners recognise that such activity is very important to the success of lively and successful neighbourhoods across London. But will the new developments include studios and open workspace that artists and makers can afford?
Henry Peterson, is chair of the neighbouring St Quintin and Woodlands Neighbourhood Forum in North Kensington. He has been acting as adviser to the Interim Forum on the process of designation and the neighbourhood planning framework. Henry is one of handful of Neighbourhood Planning Champions in London, appointed by the Department of Communities and Local Government to support emerging neighbourhood forums. He works on an unpaid volunteer basis, in a similar role to the consultants often used by neighbourhood forums. The StQW Neighbourhood Forum has a continuing interest in what happens in the OPDC area, especially on the eastern side of Wormwood Scrubs.