Please Vote Yes on 5th March in the Referendum on the Highams Park Plan

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About the Referendum & FAQ
The Highams Park Planning Group (“HPPG”) requests you to vote “Yes” to the Highams Park Neighbourhood Development Plan (“Highams Park Plan” or “HP Plan”) in the upcoming referendum on Thursday 5th March 2020.
This page explains what the referendum on the Highams Park Plan is all about and why we would like you to vote “Yes”. There is an FAQ section at the bottom of this page which will hopefully answer any questions you may have.
We would like to see a huge turnout voting yes.  This will show the commitment by local people to their area and their desire to protect and enhance it.
Change is inevitable but if you have a vision you can direct it. Our headline vision of what the Highams Park Plan aims to achieve for the Area is:

The HP Plan was written by members of HPPG based on comprehensive consultations with local residents at our Launch Event in November 2013 and during subsequent, meetings, consultations and questionnaires.
The HP Plan will direct Council Officers when they are reviewing planning applications in the Highams Park area to ensure that development is in line with how local people would like to see Highams Park develop as an area.
We appreciate that you may have lots of questions about the HP Plan and the referendum process and we have prepared some questions and answers below. If you click on the question the answer will appear!
(The FAQ are are also available as a downloadable pdf at the bottom of the page if you prefer to download and print the information).
FAQ & Answers:

1. What is the Highams Park Neighbourhood Plan (HP Plan)?

Answer. The Highams Park Plan was written by local residents, for local residents, using decision making powers granted to local communities under the Localism Act of 2011.  The Plan is in two parts:

  • The Neighbourhood Plan which is a formal document covering land use and planning issues in the Area; and
  • An Action Plan (known as “Annex 1) which covers community projects that local people have told us they want implemented.

The HP Plan is not the same as the Waltham Forest “Local Plan” which covers the whole Borough. The HP Plan adds specific guidance for development in Highams Park.

 

2. Where can I see a copy of the Highams Park Plan

Answer. You can view a copy of the Highams Park Plan at Hale End Library or by clicking on this link: The Highams Park Plan

3. Why do we need the Highams Park Plan?

Answer. Prior to the establishment of the Highams Park Planning Group, Highams Park was regarded  by Waltham Forest Council as a loosely defined area that straddled the wards of Highams Park & Hale End, Hatch Lane, Larkswood and Chapel End and, because of this, no one was directly responsible for Highams Park as an area.  As a consequence, the approach to  development in Highams Park has been haphazard and the area has lacked investment and direction in its infrastructure planning.

The Highams Park Plan aims to give the Area a voice and a vision and provide a strategic and  long-term plan for the Area which is in accordance with the wishes of those living and working in the Area, while recognising the need for sustainable development.

4. What area does the Highams Park Plan cover?

Answer. The Area that the Plan covers is the area within the blue boundary on the map below:

Highams Park Neighbourhood Plan Boundary
5. Who wrote the Highams Park Plan?

Answer.  The HP Plan was written by members of HPPG who are local people with extensive  knowledge of the Highams Park Plan Area.  The policies and objectives contained within the Plan were set following comprehensive consultations with local residents.

6. Who are the Highams Park Planning Group (HPPG)?

Answer. The Highams Park Planning Group (“HPPG”) is group of local people. It was established at a  Launch Event on 16th November 2013. The Launch Event was attended by hundreds of  residents from the Highams Park Area and over 1,000 residents have now joined as  members. HPPG was formally constituted by its members on 17th January 2014.

Membership of HPPG is free and is open to all people living and working in Highams Park.  If  you would like to join, click here: https://highamsparkplan.org/home/get-involved/

7. What is the referendum about?

Answer.The referendum is to ask people living in Highams Park if they want the Highams Park Plan to be used by Council Officers to decide whether to approve or decline planning applications in the Highams Park area.

8. How will the referendum take place?

Answer.The referendum will be conducted in much the same way as local government (Council) elections and will have polling stations, polling cards and postal and proxy votes just as you would expect for a normal election.The only thing that differs is that you may have a different polling station to the one you are used to.

9. Who will manage the voting in the referendum?

Answer. The referendum will be managed by the Electoral Services Department of Waltham Forest Council.

10. Will my vote be confidential?

Answer. Yes, your vote will be confidential.  Booths will be provided at the polling station so you can vote in private.  If anyone asks you what you voted, you are under no obligation to tell them.

11. Why should I vote “Yes” in the Referendum?

Answer. If a lot of people vote “Yes” it will demonstrate to the Council that local people care about Highams Park and it will give the HP Plan extra authority.

The HP Plan was written by local people with extensive knowledge of the Highams Park Plan Area and after comprehensive consultations with other local residents asking them what sort of development should be allowed to take place in Highams Park.

The HP Plan will guide development so that it is in line with the wishes of local people and contains polices that:

  • provide additional protection to many of our local green spaces (including allotments, playing fields and street greens).
  • protect and enhance wildlife corridors and the River Ching and the forest areas.
  • require existing community facilities to be retained if a building is redeveloped.
  • seek to preserve the integrity of the shopping centre and the business areas.
  • seek to encourage a more vibrant town centre.
  • requires that development in the differing character areas of Highams Park be in keeping with the area in the vicinity of the development.
  • seek to preserve and retain our heritage buildings and areas of special character.
  • require monies from development to be retained in the HP Plan Area.

Annex 1 to the HP Plan lists improvements to the public realm and projects requested by local people as priorities for how development monies should be spent.

12. Will voting “No” mean there will be less development in Highams Park?

Answer. If there is a majority “No” vote at the referendum the Highams Park Plan will not be used by Council Officers.  There will not be less development.  Development will still take place in Highams Park but it will not be controlled and directed as set out in the Plan.

13. When will the referendum take place?

Answer. The referendum will take place on Thursday 5th March, 2020.  Polling stations will open at 7am and close at 10pm.

14. What question will I be asked in the referendum?

Answer: Voters will be asked to mark a cross (X) in either the “Yes” or “No” box on a ballot paper to indicate their answer to the following question: “Do you want the London Borough of Waltham Forest to use the neighbourhood development  plan for the Highams Park Neighbourhood Area to help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area?”

15. How can I check if I am eligible to vote?

Answer. The same electoral register will be used as for normal elections so if you know you are registered for those then you will be included for this referendum if you live in the Plan area.

People allowed to vote is the same as for local elections and includes British, Irish, qualifying Commonwealth or EU citizens registered to vote at an address in the referendum area.

“Qualifying Commonwealth” means that they must have the right to live / remain in the UK, not just be born in a Commonwealth country. EU citizens who are registered are fine for the time being – at least until further notice, some rights are being protected following our withdrawal from the EU on 31st January."

You can check if you are registered to vote by emailing electoral services at: electoral.services@walthamforest.gov.uk
or you can call Waltham Forest Direct on:
020 8496 3000 (but experience shows you may have to hang on for some time).

The deadline for registration is midnight on 18th February 2020.

16. Will I have a polling card?

Answer. The Council will send you a polling card. It will look much the same as the polling card you  receive for normal elections but the polling station shown on it may differ from your usual one.

17. I live in Highams Park and haven’t received a polling card, what should I do?

Answer. If you haven’t received a polling card by 10th February 2020 you should check that you are  registered to vote by emailing electoral services at: electoral.services@walthamforest.gov.uk
or you can call Waltham Forest Direct on:
020 8496 3000 (but experience shows you may have to hang on for some time).

The deadline for registration is midnight on 18th February 2020.

18. Will I vote at my normal polling station?

Answer. The polling station may be different to the one where you normally vote, so please check on your polling card for the name and address of your polling station.

19. Where will I vote – where is my polling station?

Answer. The Council will send you a polling card with full details of the referendum. The polling card  will tell you the name and address of the polling station where you can vote.

20. I’ve lost my polling card, do I need it to vote?

Answer. You do not need a polling card to vote but please be aware that the polling card specifies your polling station and this may be different from the one you usually use to vote at normal  elections. If you know your polling station you can vote without the card.

If you are unsure where to vote, email electoral services at: electoral.services@walthamforest.gov.uk
or you can call Waltham Forest Direct on:
020 8496 3000 (but experience shows you may have to hang on for some time).

Although you don’t need to take your polling card with you, it will speed up the process at the polling station if you show it to the polling clerk.

21. Can I vote by Post (Postal Vote)?

Answer. Yes you can vote in the referendum using a postal vote.

If you are already registered for postal voting you will automatically receive a postal vote in the same way as for an election.

If you are not registered for a postal vote, you need to send a request to the Council by 5pm  on 19th February 2020.

To register for a postal vote please email electoral services at: electoral.services@walthamforest.gov.uk
or you can call Waltham Forest Direct on:
020 8496 3000 (but experience shows you may have to hang on for some time).

22. I am not available on 5th March. Can someone else vote for me (by proxy)?

Answer. Yes, you can vote by proxy if you are unable to attend in person to vote.

If you want to get someone else to vote for you (by proxy) you need to contact  Electoral  Services by 5pm on 26th February 2020.

To register to vote by proxy please email electoral services at: electoral.services@walthamforest.gov.uk
or you can call Waltham Forest Direct on:
020 8496 3000 (but experience shows you may have to hang on for some time).

23. Is the Highams Park Plan the same as the Council’s Local Plan?

Answer. The HP Plan is not the same as the Waltham Forest “Local Plan” which covers the whole  Borough. The HP Plan provides specific guidance for development in Highams Park.

24. When will I know the result of the referendum?

Answer. The votes will be counted after the polling stations close on 5th March, 2020 and the result  is expected around midnight (but maybe later).

Should more than half of those voting at the referendum vote in favour of the HP Plan, then LBWF Council will ensure the plan is ‘made’ at the  earliest opportunity and use it to determine planning applications.

The HP Plan will be accepted or rejected by a simple majority irrespective of how many people vote.

25. Does the Council support the Highams Park Plan?

Answer. The Council is obliged by law to support neighbourhood plans under the terms of the Neighbourhood Planning Act of 2011 (as amended 2012).

The Council’s Cabinet approved the referendum on 10th October 2019.

If the Plan is approved by the referendum, Council Officers will be legally obliged to ensure  that planning applications conform to policies in the Plan.

26. How will The Highams Park Plan fit into planning law?

Answer. Before a new construction takes place (a new building or changes to an old one) planning consent is required.  Council Officers consider the application and ensure that it conforms to policies set out in a series of planning documents.  For Highams Park, there are currently 3 such documents:

  • The National Policy Planning Framework (created by UK Government)
  • The London Plan (created by The GLA and the London Mayor)
  • The Waltham Forest Plan (created by LBWF and known as the “Local Plan”)

A “Yes” vote in the referendum will add The Highams Park Plan as a 4th document which adds  requirements specific to the Highams Park Area.

27. Who can I contact at the Council about the referendum?

Answer. You can find out more about the Highams Park Plan and the referendum at:

www.walthamforest.gov.uk/HPNP

You can download a copy of the the FAQ & Answers by clicking on this link:
FAQ and Answers – HP Plan Referendum – Mar 2020

The information on this page was prepared by the Highams Park Planning Group of
67 Handsworth Avenue, Highams Park, E4 9PG