The group drawing up a neighbourhood plan for Bankside - between the Lambeth/Southwark boundary in the west and Borough High Street in the east - is launching a summer programme of events to help shape local planning policy.
The long-awaited neighbourhood plan for Bankside came a step closer in June when Southwark Council confirmed that the Bankside Neighbourhood Forum had met all the criteria under the Localism Act to take forward a planning policy document to consultation and referendum.
After more than two years in gestation, the forum is now planning a summer of events and activities, working with residents, businesses and local organisations to discuss priorities and gather more views and ideas.
"The preciousness of shared public space reinforces the importance of sharing responsibility for the future and the need for businesses, residents and organisations to work together for a public realm that has the potential to be very special indeed."
Neighbourhood plans were introduced through the Localism Act 2011, and enable local communities to develop detailed planning policy for a specific area.
The neighbourhood plan will go through a series of tests and be put to a ballot of local residents and businesses. If successful it then becomes part of the development planning framework for Bankside when the council makes decisions on planning applications.
Since late 2010 a group of representatives of Bankside's business, residential, and other community stakeholders have been exploring the development priorities and ambitions for Bankside that should be encompassed in a neighbourhood plan.
As well as setting out policies to give developers a clearer idea of what development in Bankside should be like, it will also identify ways that development can deliver benefits for the community – including making sure the construction process is coordinated so impacts on the local community are kept to a minimum, setting out priorities for projects for Bankside that the community wants and making sure that Bankside stays an attractive place for investment that benefits the whole borough.
Bankside Neighbourhood Forum says that it hopes that as many people as possible who live, work and visit Bankside will want to get involved and add their voices to shaping how Bankside develops in future. Members of the neighbourhood forum would also be happy to come to talk to local groups to talk about the plan and how residents and businesses can get involved.
The start of this next stage is being marked on 11 July by the first of more than 30 events, with Better Bankside and Bankside Open Spaces Trust both holding summer parties where there will be a chance to find out more about the neighbourhood plan and contribute ideas. More events will be added to the neighbourhood forum's website www.wearebankside.com.
To find out more, watch out for the neighbourhood plan flyer that will be delivered to all homes and businesses in the plan area soon.
"Over the last twelve years Better Bankside has been working hard to try and improve the area as a place to live, work and visit. We now have the opportunity to expand and develop our work, partnerships and ambitions of creating a world-class neighbourhood. From Borough Market to Blackfriars we look forward to working with business, the council and all our local communities in this exciting time."
David Stephens, Chair of Bankside Residents' Forum, added: "Bankside is one of the most historical parts of our capital city. Evidence of this is all around us, and the legacy from the past contributes hugely to the area's character and helps make it the special and unique neighbourhood that it is.
"Whilst encouraging appropriate high quality development we need, at the same time, to ensure that we preserve and enhance our heritage assets, celebrate them and maximise their potential to contribute to the area's special character and to help make the whole of Bankside an enjoyable and stimulating place to be in and walk around."
Proposals for a neighbourhood plan for the adjacent South Bank and Waterloo area are also being drawn up. Whether the boundary between the South Bank and Bankside plans should fall at the borough's edge or at Blackfriars Road will be a matter for Southwark Council to determine.
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