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South Bank and Bankside in neighbourhood planning turf war

Proposals for the area west of Blackfriars Road but east of the Lambeth-Southwark boundary to be included in Bankside's neighbourhood plan have been criticised by promoters of a plan for the adjacent South Bank area.

At this week's Borough, Bankside & Walworth Community Council meeting councillors were asked to comment on the proposed boundaries of the Bankside Neighbourhood Plan as suggested by the Bankside Neighbourhood Forum.

A final decision on the applications currently on the table from groups in Bankside and Bermondsey will be taken by Cllr Fiona Colley, Southwark's cabinet member for regeneration.

Both the South Bank and Bankside were selected in 2011 as frontrunner 'business neighbourhoods' to act as testbeds for new planning policy arrangements under the coalition Government's Localism Act.

The Bankside neighbourhood plan is a hybrid effort led jointly by local residents and business organised including Better Bankside, whilst the South Bank plan will be business-led under the auspices of the South Bank Employers' Group.

Both groups will have to secure the backing of residents and businesses in a referendum if their plans are to gain statutory force.

The bulk of the area to be covered by the South Bank plan falls within the borough of Lambeth but SBEG is keen for its plan to span the borough boundary and reach across into Southwark.

Iain Tuckett, group director of Coin Street Community Builders, told the community council that the proposal for the Bankside plan to include the area west of Blackfriars Road, east of the Lambeth boundary and north of The Cut would "cut right across" the existing local arrangements of the South Bank Forum.

Bankside Neighbourhood Forum chair Tim Wood pointed out that the membership of his group includes several members from the contested area, and that the forum would have to engage fully with residents and businesses in that area if it was to secure a 'yes' vote in the final referendum.

Ted Inman, chief executive of South Bank Employers' Group, asked the community council to look at the question of the western boundary of the Bankside plan area in more detail.

"The rationale in the papers put before you for the western boundary is a) to include Blackfriars Road and b) to go to the borough boundary," he said.

"Neither of them relate to the concept of a natural neighbourhood.

"I don't think there are many people here who would say that the Oxo Tower is actually in Bankside.

"The natural neighbourhood is the South Bank and the key thing for the Localism Act is the natural neighbourhood.

"The Localism Act recognises cross-borough neighbourhood plans and we believe that that option should be kept open for the cabinet member to consider."

The community council resolved to support the boundaries of the Bankside proposal in general terms, and urged the neighbourhood forum to demonstrate that its membership reflects the demographic makeup of the Bankside community.

• Find out more about the Bankside Neighbourhood Forum and its draft neighbourhood plan at www.wearebankside.com

• In Bermondsey the council has called a summit with the promoters of the rival Bermondsey Neighourhood Forum and Bermondsey Village Action Group neighbourhood plans in an effort to thrash out a compromise.

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