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Forum topic: 'Unfair, unreasonable and undemocratic': Council accused of reneging on local plan consultation promise

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'Unfair, unreasonable and undemocratic': Council accused of reneging on local plan consultation promise

PGC Webmaster

07 Feb 2024 23:32 #7075

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[Original article]

A statement issued today by Action for Enfield's Future expresses the frustration felt by its constituent community groups at the failure of the council leadership and the majority of ward councillors from both parties to fulfil the promise made in 2022 to engage effectively with residents about the content of the new Enfield Local Plan.

Describing the new local plan as "a blueprint that will guide Enfield’s development, housing and environment until 2041", the statement accuses Enfield Council of denying its residents "honest and transparent engagement on these proposals by their elected members" and says it has "reneged on the spirit of what was agreed in October 2022". 

Furthermore, it says that, "Adding insult to injury, the council is refusing to publish the evidence base underpinning its proposals, despite specific Government guidance to do so."

Full Council is scheduled to debate the draft plan in early March, before it is formally submitted to the planning inspectorate. In view of the failure to keep the promise to give residents opportunities to discuss the plan thoroughly before then, Action for Enfield's Future is demanding an extension of the deadline for making submissions to the subsequent "Reg 19" consultation:

"We will need 12 weeks for the formal Reg 19 consultation because there is a mountain of unpublished technical information coming our way. It is unfair, unreasonable, and undemocratic to expect non expert residents to engage meaningfully with this consultation in the absence of evidence and ward specific discussion with their elected members."

Statement issued by Action for Enfield's Future on 7th February 2024

Enfield, a borough with a rich history and a vibrant community, is at a pivotal moment. The decisions made today will reverberate for generations. Enter the New Local Plan, a blueprint that will guide Enfield’s development, housing, and environment until 2041.

Enfield stands at a crossroads. Let’s ensure that our legacy is one of foresight, compassion, and sustainable growth. Together, we’ll build a future that honours our past and embraces the promise of tomorrow.

Enfield’s residents are entitled to, and will, hold different views of the Council’s proposals for the future of its citizens revealed in the New Local Plan.

But they are equally entitled to honest and transparent engagement on these proposals by their elected members. This is being denied.

The new Local Plan is long and unfeasibly complex for the average resident. Perhaps even for the average councillor.

Regrettably, despite unanimous councillor support for our petition calling for 12 weeks meaningful debate and a statement that "Councillors will communicate with their constituents, discussing aspirations for homes and their environment" the promise to “engage with their constituents on key Local Plan themes and issues before the Full Council meeting remains unfulfilled by the majority of ward councillors of both parties.

Honourable exceptions are the councillors for Highfields, Palmers Green, Ridgeway, Whitewebbs and Winchmore Hill.

Adding insult to injury, the council is refusing to publish the evidence base underpinning its proposals, despite specific Government guidance to do so. We have tried FOI (Freedom of information), a Member’s Enquiry and an Open Letter to Council leaders cc to all councillors. But the Council is refusing to publish on the grounds that

The period between the release of the draft Local Plan and the Full Council meeting is not a formal component of the Plan-making process. Its core purpose is to provide Councillors with time to review, consider and discuss the content of the Local Plan, and engage with their constituents on key Local Plan themes and issues before the Full Council meetingbut not, it seems, to see the evidence.

So, for instance, to understand the impact of the Local Plan on the natural environment we need something called the Recreation Mitigation Strategy; it's not there.

Neither are these evidence reports, also referred to:

  • ‘Site selection methodology paper’ (Ref p. 223)
  • 'Housing Topic Paper' 2023 (Ref p. 32, p. 229, p. 230 and p. 236)
  • ‘Exceptional Circumstances Topic Paper’ (Ref p. 31 and p. 229)
  • 'Strategy Topic Paper.’ (Ref p. 31)
  • ‘Employment Land Review’ 2020 (Ref p. 252)

Enfield Council has reneged on the spirit of what was agreed on October 2022.

We will need 12 weeks for the formal Reg 19 consultation because there is a mountain of unpublished technical information coming our way. It is unfair, unreasonable, and undemocratic to expect non expert residents to engage meaningfully with this consultation in the absence of evidence and ward specific discussion with their elected members.

Action for Enfield’s Future describes itself as a non-political community group with members from across Enfield, including representatives from the Enfield Society, Enfield Climate Action Forum, Better Homes for Enfield and Enfield Roadwatch.

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'Unfair, unreasonable and undemocratic': Council accused of reneging on local plan consultation promise

Karl Brown

08 Feb 2024 11:48 #7076

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Dead right people should discuss and be aware, but also acknowledge that this is the very back end of the process which started years ago and has already including a couple of consultation rounds and a local consultation in the PG library with the planners. Its much easier to put ideas and concerns forward while things are more malleable rather than starting to solidify, which is where we are now. A bit more looking over the horizon might benefit us longer term – I’m now floating kites of a cinema and culture complex on the proposed Morrisons redevelopment site. Slim chance I imagine but inevitably easier to influence before than try to change minds after.

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'Unfair, unreasonable and undemocratic': Council accused of reneging on local plan consultation promise

Darren Edgar

08 Feb 2024 11:49 #7077

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Who is/are "Action for Enfield's Future"?

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'Unfair, unreasonable and undemocratic': Council accused of reneging on local plan consultation promise

PGC Webmaster

15 Feb 2024 00:08 #7089

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'Unfair, unreasonable and undemocratic': Council accused of reneging on local plan consultation promise

Vicki Pite

15 Feb 2024 08:54 #7091

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Karl Brown wrote (message 7076) :

Dead right people should discuss and be aware, but also acknowledge that this is the very back end of the process which started years ago and has already including a couple of consultation rounds and a local consultation in the PG library with the planners.


Thanks , yes, the process has been a long one and there were significant consultations in the early days. But since the vastly different Reg 18 plan was published in 2021 the only consultation was in the form of written submissions, no community engagement or dialogue with the council on a document (Inc evidence) of 2000+ pages with implications for all of Enfield and specific, and very significant changes for certain wards. There were an unprecedented 7000+ written responses (on the council website, The Enfield Society has published a guide to help with accessibility). Many (most, probably, but time consuming to assess) of the concerns were unanswered in the revised new plan, for instance the Meridian Water Master Plan is unavailable, as are many other essential evidence papers, and the number of homes proposed for the green belt has increased. Then there was the petition to Full Council (4000 signatures) unanimously agreed but in reality, and despite the rhetoric, ignored. Hence the series of posts. So we felt our position is justified by the facts.

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