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What is neighbourhood planning?

A group of people living and working in the South Bank and Waterloo area has formed to develop a neighbourhood plan as part of the provisions of the Localism Act (2012).

Neighbourhood plans are an opportunity for the business and residential community to identify their priorities in terms of development and land use, and, if agreed in a local referendum must then be adopted by the Local Authority and taken into account in planning applications.

Neighbourhood planning allows communities to get together to develop a vision for their area.


Following consultatuion with the community, the neighbourhood plan area has been agreed. This area, and the Neighbourhood Forum itself, must be formally designated Lambeth and Southwark Councils and a formal consultation on the applications has now begun.

Once the local authority has designated the area, the neighbourhood will work together to establish what is needed from development, to ensure the area is able to cope with anticipated growth in tourists, visitors and traffic.  There is considerable flexibility in what can be addressed through a neighbourhood plan. The plan must conform to existing national, regional and local policies such as the Lambeth Core Strategy and the Mayor’s Waterloo Opportunity Area Planning Framework.

The South Bank & Waterloo neighbourhood plan will need to add to these existing policies and early discussions have suggested a particular focus on how it might be used to further the agreed objectives of documents such as the South Bank Partnership Manifesto.

Once the plan has been developed, it will be assessed by an independent examiner to ensure conformity with other statutory planning policies.  This will involve further rounds of statutory consultation.  Once past this stage, the plan will be put forward for local referendum, at which residents and businesses will vote.  If the community votes yes, the plan will be adopted by the local authority, or in this case local authorities.

It is anticipated that the process will take around 18 months.

Neighbourhood area

As people who live and work here, we believe the South Bank and Waterloo is a special place.  A few facts:

  • We have 12,000 residents and 50,000 workers
  • We play host to a wide range of national institutions including St Thomas’ Hospital, King’s College London, National Theatre, Southbank Centre, BFI and the London Eye
  • 25m people now visit the riverside every year – in 2000 it was 3m
  • Waterloo Rail Station is the busiest in the country with over 100m people passing through its doors every year

Although many think that the area’s residential population is transient, there is strong community feel and many people have lived in the area of decades.  Our group’s oldest member has lived in Waterloo for over 70 years.

In urban areas it can be difficult to identify the precise boundary of any given neighbourhood and people do this in different ways.  Since the first job of an emerging neighbourhood forum is to agree this, the early promoters of the neighbourhood plan consulted with the community to find out how they defined the boundaries of South Bank and Waterloo.

After much local consultation, including two mail-outs to the whole community and public meetings to discuss the neighbourhood boundaries, the area has now been agreed.  It is bounded in the east by Blackfriars Road, the south by Lambeth Road and to the north and west by the River Thames.  This area reflects the South Bank Forum and South Bank Partnership areas and many years of cross borough working between the people of Lambeth and Southwark to develop their neighbourhood regardless of borough boundaries.

Themes the plan may cover

What the plan should contain is up to the community, but at the same time, the plan shouldn’t be going over old ground, by repeating what is in other local plans.

Themes should cover areas which:

a) are not covered adequately in other strategic documents such as the London Plan, Waterloo SPD or relevant Southwark policies and

b) are appropriate to the neighbourhood plan.  The legislation is very broad on what might go into a plan, but a distinction is made between the specific policies developed in the plan, which are subject to a local referendum, and the wider vision, which is not.  If the plan is adopted by the Local Authority, it is only the policies that they will legally have to have regard to when considering planning applications

The Themes have now been set and can be viewed on this website in the Themes section.