Because of Covid-19 we have been unable to hold our Annual General Meeting in person, as we had hoped, and we now want to update you on progress with the Forum since the last AGM.
Here is a very short outline of the Annual Report’s content:
Progress with Developing our Neighbourhood Plan
In late July last year we launched our first draft consultation of the Plan. It was met with general approval from residents and local Councillors. The Vision, and in particular the emphasis on vibrancy of the commercial centre, as well as protecting our heritage, the conservation areas and the preservation of the very limited amount of green and open space was strongly supported.
We are currently revising the Plan to take on board detailed comments and the next stage is a technical consultation with statutory bodies (e.g. Natural England and Historic England) to find out whether we need to undertake a full Strategic Environmental Appraisal or a Habitats Regulation Assessment. This is, we hope, a largely theoretical exercise given that Westminster will have done similar analysis in developing its own City Plans.
We would then hope to submit the revised Plan to Westminster around the end of the year for a further consultation and independent examination with the referendum taking place in Summer 2021.
Planning applications and other developments
The Forum can’t comment in detail on planning applications, but following the consultation on our Draft Plan, we may respond to major applications where there is already a clear and relevant view expressed by Forum members and the agreed Vision. Policies in the Plan will only have force after a successful referendum, but we have commented on the major application for the Wilton Road block opposite Sainsbury’s in respect of the height of the building and the extent of public realm (which is in short supply and in poor condition in that area).
In that vein, when the Council asked Neighbourhood Forums for their suggestions for transport and public realm improvements to help the hospitality and retail sectors recover from lockdown, we put forward an idea for discussion for Warwick Way/Wilton Road produced by one of our members. The issue of resolving competing demands for road and pavement space is accepted by our local Councillors and there is clearly a need for some significant improvement. The temporary scheme that the Council has delivered seems to have facilitated a re-opening of business which was far from certain and to have helped the small independent operators that are key to the character of Pimlico.
For the Steering Group
Peter Ruback, Chairman