NDF consultation

The West Hampstead Neighbourhood Development Forum is consulting on the final draft of its development plan. If you’re not familiar with the organisation, do check out its website, or this introductory article.

In a nutshell, the NDF is drafting a plan for the area that will have statutory power. It’s been set up under the Localism Act to give communities more say over what happens to them. Crucially it may not be anti-development and it must fit in with the other levels of planning (which in our case are the Camden Plan, the London Plan and national planning frameworks).

Although a large part of the plan considers housing development, there is a section dedicated to the local economy.

We’ve copied the  draft policies below – there is more accompanying text in the draft plan itself, which you can find here [pdf] (the Economy section starts on page 29). If you’d like to leave a comment, please do so below – comments left before Feb 28th will be fed back to the NDF (note, you must leave your name/business if you want your comment considered).

The vision: Economy
Development will promote and support a successful local economy, with thriving town and neighbourhood centres. Development shall protect and support existing jobs and employment sites – as well as providing new jobs and attracting new businesses to the Area. Such development shall also provide flexible space, particularly for small and micro-businesses.

POLICY 11: Business, Commercial and Employment Sites
Development in the Area shall allow for economic growth and employment – as well as providing sites for business, commercial and employment use. This shall be achieved by:
i. The protection of existing employment sites and jobs.
ii. Avoiding any further loss of such sites.
iii. Ensuring that where the redevelopment of existing employment sites is proposed, the level of employment floorspace is maintained or increased.
iv. Finding the equivalent space elsewhere in the Area for commercial and business activities, if there is a change of use of such sites.
v. The provision of additional and new business space.
vi. The provision of a range of different sized units, particularly smaller spaces for micro-businesses and studio space.
vii. The provision of affordable or subsidised business space, to sit alongside requirements for affordable housing.
viii. The provision of space for markets and short-term ‘pop up’ shops and services.

POLICY 12: West Hampstead Town Centre
Development shall protect and enhance the village character of the Town Centre as a mixed retail area with a diverse range of shops and businesses. This shall be achieved by:
i. A presumption in favour of protecting and enhancing the character of the Town Centre.
ii. The control of signage, adverts and forecourt developments in keeping with the surrounding development and Conservation Areas.
iii. The provision of a diverse range of retail outlets, food/drink outlets and commercial premises.
iv. The support of proposals for independent shops and businesses, including affordable rents and business rates.
v. Contributions to public realm improvements to improve the look and character of the Town Centre, which are in keeping with the Conservation Area.

POLICY 13: Mill Lane Neighbourhood Centre
Development (including changes of use) shall protect and enhance the character of the Neighbourhood Centre and provide for a diverse range of shops, businesses and economic activity. This shall be achieved
i. A presumption against the conversion of ground floor retail/business space into residential use.
ii. A presumption in favour of improving and restoring the look of shop-fronts.

RECOMMENDATION: in support of Policy 13 the following actions are proposed.
i. The drawing up of a ‘Mill Lane Action Plan’ to give focus to and revitalise the Neighbourhood Centre.
ii. A need to attract a diverse range of shops, food/drink outlets and businesses to the Centre.
iii. Improvements to pavements and the removal of street clutter.
iv. Improved signage to attract people to Mill Lane.

POLICY 14: Fortune Green Road Neighbourhood Centre
Development (including changes of use) shall protect and enhance the character of the Neighbourhood Centre and provide for a diverse range of shops, businesses and economic activity.

1 reply
  1. WHBA
    WHBA says:

    Here’s the response the WHBA submitted:
    The West Hampstead Business Association broadly supports the final draft of the Neighbourhood Development Plan and would like to thank the NDF committee for all its hard work in putting this plan together over the past two years.

    With respect to the policies concerning the economy and employment, we agree that developments in West Hampstead should provide viable business, commercial and employment space. Where commercial use is removed through a redevelopment, we fully support Policy 11.3 and 11.4, and would like to see the NDP assert in as robust terms as possible that such use should be replaced with at least as much viable and appropriate commercial space within the vicinity as part of a coherent plan for the area. We support the NDP’s push for flexibility within different classes of commercial property while seeking to retain a broad mix of employment use overall – even as the share of different uses may fluctuate over time.

    We would push the NDP to strengthen the wording of Policy 11.5, which seeks to provide additional business space and would encourage them to look at how it’s possible, within the planning framework, to push for this growth with a focus on viable and appropriate commercial use. One benefit of increased employment is more weekday daytime trade for existing businesses. Declining employment in the area would lead businesses to be increasingly reliant on evening and weekend trade, which risks creating a vicious circle of failing businesses. Here, one could argue that the type of employment is less relevant. However, keeping a mix of employment types in the area makes the area more attractive for new businesses looking for premises. Being able to offer a range of business-to-business services in the local area should encourage a virtuous circle of growth and contribute to the vitality of West Hampstead. Without this, there is a risk of consigning West Hampstead to becoming a dormitory suburb of commuters.

    We therefore propose that in certain circumstances, commercial space could be provided as an alternative to affordable housing in terms of contributing to a mixed and vibrant community.

    We support the call for a range of unit sizes, in order to encourage smaller businesses to set up in the area. We are not against larger businesses, which can bring more substantial employment benefits, but recognise that a diverse commercial base strengthens the community.

    Regarding policies 12, 13 and 14, which focus on the West Hampstead Town Centre and the two Neighbourhood Centres of Mill Lane and Fortune Green, we would suggest that more clarity is given on what is meant by the “character” of these commercial centres and thus what exactly it is that the NDP seeks to protect/enhance.

    Beyond the specific economic policies, we would also like to comment on Paragraph D.12 of the plan, which refers to parking.

    Although the WHBA accepts that West Hampstead is well served by public transport, this does not preclude the fact that many people, especially those living just outside the area, still use cars to get around – the lack of short-term parking is a major challenge for local businesses and makes West Hampstead less attractive for customers who might otherwise use it as a town centre during the day.

    We would encourage the NDP to assert that where commercial use is created, or redeveloped, that parking is included both for employees and customers, and that provision is made for this parking to be available to members of the public on a short-term pay & display basis outside of normal trading hours.

    Where any residential parking is permitted as part of a development (and we recognise that Camden pursues a car-free policy at the moment), there should be a mix of pay & display bays and permit bays. The shared-use approach does not work and does not benefit local businesses.

    Where a redevelopment includes commercial use that requires loading/unloading we strongly suggest that the NDP proposes that loading bays are built into the redevelopment plans. The problems of lorries loading/unloading presently not only affects the flow of traffic in the area, frustrating residents, but the lack of suitable bays puts off retailers from locating here at present.

    We look forward to seeing the final plan and supporting the NDF as the plan moves towards the referendum stage of the process

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