Residents and businesses have voted “yes” to a neighbourhood plan for Fitzrovia West in a referendum which took place on Thursday 2 September.
The Fitzrovia West Neighbourhood Forum said they were “delighted” with the result and thanked everyone who supported the plan.
The plan will shortly be adopted by Westminster Council and will form part of the policy documents controlling land development in the neighbourhood area including how decisions on planning applications are made.
Details of vote:
Residential Referendum — YES: 236 (79.19%); NO: 62 (20.81%)
Business Referendum — YES: 26 (86.67%); NO: 4 (13.33%)
The road to an approved neighbourhood plan has been more than seven years in the making and included a lengthy consultation and scrutiny period.
Westminster Council first agreed a Fitzrovia West Neighbourhood Area in 2014 and the outcome of the decision was to declare the district “a neighbourhood business area, since the area is predominantly business in nature” stated the Council — despite a densely packed, vocal and engaged community of around 3,500 residents.
That decision meant that any neighbourhood plan had to be developed in partnership with local businesses and would have to be approved by a vote of both the residents and business rate payers.
However, the neighbourhood forum and the final neighbourhood plan has been led and developed almost exclusively by a group of long-standing local residents.
Also in 2014 Camden Council approved a Fitzrovia East Neighbourhood Area. In its decision Camden stated that the larger Fitzrovia East area, of nearly 4,500 residents, is mostly residential.
“While the area does have a considerable business element, it is considered that the proposed area is predominantly residential and therefore, the Council does not consider that it should be designated as a business area in this instance,” stated Camden at the time.
However, since then a neighbourhood forum has not emerged and a neighbourhood plan has not been started, partly because — also in 2014 — a Fitzrovia Area Action Plan was adopted by Camden.
Fitzrovia East has not fared well despite the Action Plan allocating sites for housing and public open space. In 2016 an inspector overturned a decision by Camden Council to refuse planning permission for a mostly office development on a site allocated for housing, including affordable housing.
Nothing stands still in Fitzrovia for long and the Fitzrovia West Neighbourhood Forum and its Neighbourhood Plan will be quickly put to the test by property developers who know how to work the planning system, and a council that seems all too happy to give them what they want.