The current Neighbourhood Plan – dubbed the ‘quick’ Plan – has been produced to address what the Isle of Dogs community feels are the most pressing and fundamental planning issues in the area, in light of the huge and unprecedented amount of dense development already underway here, and with a lot more coming. The Council expects the population of the Island to more than double in the next few years.
With that Plan now in the hands of the Independent Examiner, the Forum has started work on the so-called ‘long’ Plan, which it is intended will in due course replace and enhance the quick Plan, as there can only be one plan at a time for an area. The Isle of Dogs is unique in adopting this innovative two-step solution, driven by the urgent need to address the intense and rapid development on the Island before getting into detailed planning issues.
Neighbourhood plans can provide very detailed, as well as location-specific, planning policies – things far too detailed to go into Borough-wide strategic plans. This is what the Forum’s long Plan is designed to achieve. It will allow the Isle of Dogs community in effect to design exactly how we want our living and working environment to be. We can allocate individual sites for specific purposes; determine where and how we want open spaces to be preserved; identify locations for community centres, sports facilities, and play spaces for our children. We can make policies for using technology, such as intelligent traffic lights and sustainable energy. We can focus on not only our green spaces, but also our blue space (our unique water heritage). The possibilities are limited mainly by our imagination. And we can influence how and where the Council spends the money it gets from the developers who pay it millions for the right to build in our area.
In the last couple of weeks, the Forum has been holding interactive exhibitions, where the local community has come together and put forward loads of ideas for the long Plan. This picture of a map displayed at the exhibitions shows not only that many people came along, but also that they came from all over the Island. The Forum is collating the many ideas garnered from these exhibitions and from other public consultations, to form the basis for a draft long Plan that will be worked on throughout this year.