Bankside and Bermondsey have been chosen as two of the test beds for neighbourhood planning under new provisions set out in the Localism Bill.
The Department for Communities and Local Government has picked Southwark Council as one of 17 'front runner' local authorities in England which will test out the new arrangements.
"Planning has increasingly become one of the most contentious issues in Britain, with communities becoming pitted against development," says planning minister Greg Clark.
"Often the reason is that local people feel alienated from the planning process, with no influence over changes to their area.
"Neighbourhood planning will help to reverse that position by giving communities the ability to shape development in their area rather than being dictated to.
"Localism and growth will go hand in hand. By giving local people a greater say together with new incentives to share in the benefits of growth, our reforms will help to create the conditions where communities begin to welcome development rather than resist it at all costs."
A newly formed neighbourhood forum in Bermondsey and the long established Bankside Residents' Forum are to be given the opportunity to prepare plans with help and support from Southwark Council and from the DCLG.
In February the council suspended work on the Borough & Bankside supplementary planning document (SPD) – which was the subject of two rounds of consultation last year – to allow the neighbourhood planning process to play out.
"The Government's ideas for further localism in planning look as though they are mainly aimed at very stable, quiet communities in villages and small towns," says Cllr Fiona Colley, cabinet member for regeneration.
"Applying these ideas to the dynamic situation at the heart of this world city is a lot more challenging – but Southwark is the right place to take on this challenge."
The forums in Bermondsey and Bankside will be asked to make sure they involve the people from all sections of their communities in making plans that have widespread support. They have agreed with Southwark Council a timetable to do this that takes them up until Christmas 2011.
John Corey, acting chair of the Bermondsey Neighbourhood Forum, said: "This 'front runner' status presents us a golden opportunity – I am asking everyone in the area to come together, make their voice heard and to work with the forum to ensure the Bermondsey of the future is the area we want it to be and not a vision imposed on us by developers or anyone else."
The emergence of a neighbourhood forum in Bermondsey followed the council's U-turn on its decision to designate the area around the junction of St Thomas Street and Bermondsey Street as suitable for tall buildings.
Julian Cooling, chair of Bankside Residents' Forum, said: "Bankside is a unique neighbourhood, and therefore deserves a unique plan to ensure local views for the future are addressed over the next decade. Everyone is committed to developing a neighbourhood plan that provides Bankside with a planning policy framework for future growth while meeting local needs."
The Bermondsey group is bringing together groups from the area roughly between Borough High Street and Tower Bridge Road while the Bankside Residents' Forum is concentrating on the area west of Borough High Street up to Blackfriars Road.
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