Local authorities are able to appoint new neighbourhood forums in areas such as London where there is no parish or town council governance. A community group wanting to achieve neighbourhood forum status can approach the council and ask for their application to be determined. Prospective neighbourhood forums will need to meet the following conditions:
a) it is established for the express purpose of promoting or improving the social, economic and environmental well-being of an area that consists of or includes the neighbourhood area concerned (whether or not it is also established for the express purpose of promoting the carrying on of trades, professions or other businesses in such an area)
(b) its membership is open to:
(i) individuals who live in the neighbourhood area concerned
(ii) individuals who work there (whether for businesses carried on there or otherwise), and
(iii) individuals who are elected members of a county council, district council or London borough council any of whose area falls within the neighbourhood area concerned
(c) its membership includes a minimum of 21 individuals each of whom:
(i) lives in the neighbourhood area concerned
(ii) works there (whether for a business carried on there or otherwise), or
(iii) is an elected member of a county council, district council or London borough council any of whose area falls within the neighbourhood area concerned
(d) it has a written constitution, and
(e) such other conditions as may be prescribed.
It is a responsibility of the council to receive, publish, consider and determine applications for designation of neighbourhood forums. These functions comprise four stages which are set out below and are contained in the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012.
Stage 1 - receipt
This initial stage does not involve an assessment of the information included within the application, but ascertaining that the requisite information is present within the application and whether or not there is an existing neighbourhood forum for the area. If there is already an existing neighbourhood forum for the area and that designation has not expired or been withdrawn, a local planning authority may decline to consider any neighbourhood forum application made in relation to that neighbourhood area (Regulation 11).
Stage 2 - publicity
As soon as possible after receiving a neighbourhood forum application, which the local planning authority do not decline to consider under regulation 11, a local planning authority must publish details on their website and in such other manner as they consider is likely to bring the application to the attention of people who live, work or carry on business in the area to which the application relates.
Stage 3 - consideration and determination of applications for designation
In reaching a decision regarding designation of a neighbourhood forum, the authority needs to prepare reasons for its decision. If the decision is not to designate, these reasons need to be published as part of the refusal notice referred to below. It is considered good practice for any decision to be recorded in writing along with reasons, regardless of whether the decision is to grant designation or to refuse it.
Stage 4 - publicising a designation of a neighbourhood forum
If approved, as soon as possible after designating a Neighbourhood Forum, a local planning authority must publish (in the same manner as Stage 2) the following:
(a) the name of the neighbourhood forum
(b) a copy of the written constitution of the neighbourhood forum
(c) the name of the neighbourhood area to which the designation relates, and
(d) contact details for at least one member of the neighbourhood forum.
If refused, as soon as possible after deciding to refuse to designate a neighbourhood forum, a local planning authority must publish (in the same manner as Stage 2) the following:
(a) a statement setting out the decision and their reasons for making that decision ("the refusal statement"), and
(b) details of where and when the refusal statement may be inspected.
There is no time period currently specified for the determination of applications for designation as a neighbourhood forum, other than the requirement for a six week period relating to Stage 2 - publicity set out above.
Under certain circumstances a designation may be withdrawn. It may be that the council considers that the organisation is no longer meeting the conditions by reference to which it was designated (or any other criteria which were relevant to the designation). Alternatively, the neighbourhood forum may voluntarily withdraw their designation.
In either case, as soon as possible after withdrawing the designation of a neighbourhood forum a local planning authority must publish (in the same manner as Stage 2) the following:
(a) a statement setting out details of the withdrawal ("the withdrawal statement"), and
(b) details of where and when the withdrawal statement may be inspected.
To express an interest in becoming a neighbourhood forum, please complete the application form which can be downloaded below. Submissions made not using the application form will not be considered.
6th Floor Zone B, Bernard Weatherill House, 8 Mint Walk, Croydon CR0 1EA