Hadley Wood residents agree ‘neighbourhood plan’ in a first for Enfield

The village in the north-west corner of the borough has become the first part of Enfield to adopt its own specific planning policies, reports James Cracknell

Hadley Wood is a village in the north-west corner of the borough
Hadley Wood is a village in the north-west corner of the borough

Hadley Wood has officially adopted a ‘neighbourhood plan’ that enshrines a number of key planning policies drawn up and agreed by residents.

In a first for the borough of Enfield, a referendum was held earlier this month in which Hadley Wood residents voted “overwhelmingly in favour” of endorsing a 150-page planning document that has been nine years in the making.

Under planning law introduced in 2011, communities can draw up and agree their own neighbourhood plan which, if backed by voters in a referendum, becomes an official policy adopted by the local authority for that area. It provides an extra layer of planning protection against unwanted schemes but also offers a steer to developers to encourage the kind of development the community wants and needs.

In the case of Hadley Wood, the new neighbourhood plan states that residents wish to “support sustainable development; preserve our local character and natural environment; [and] protect our Green Belt”.

The plan was backed by 95.4% of the 681 people voting in a referendum on 2nd November and was then officially adopted this week at a meeting of the full council on Wednesday (22nd).

It will likely make it more difficult for Enfield Council to de-designate a part of the Green Belt in Hadley Wood, which has been earmarked for 160 homes as part of the draft Local Plan due to be finalised next year.

Alessandro Georgiou, the Conservative group leader and councillor for Cockfosters ward, which includes Hadley Wood, welcomed the plan at Wednesday’s meeting and said: “This is the first neighbourhood plan in our history as a borough, which is something to be celebrated. It is also one of very few neighbourhood plans across the country.

“This neighbourhood plan reinforces planning protections – including open green spaces. I am so proud of my residents in Hadley Wood for achieving this.”

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Council leader Nesil Caliskan also welcomed the plan and said: “There was a very detailed and involved process by officers supporting the community group in the lead up to the referendum. Having such a high percentage of endorsement shows it is a good neighbourhood plan, is in keeping with the area, and is sound.”

Hadley Wood Neighbourhood Plan covers the period from now until 2039 and states in its foreword that the area “is a relatively isolated and car-dependent community” which is “poorly served by public transport and has very limited local infrastructure or services”.

The surrounding farmland and woodland, currently designated as Green Belt, “is to be treasured and deserves continued protection,” the plan says.

“Open space provides areas for recreation as well as for wildlife. Private front and rear gardens with mature trees, green space and low front boundaries enhance local character. Space between buildings provides views to greenery and open countryside beyond. Together these attributes form a major part of local character, play a key role in reducing flood risk, supporting biodiversity, and mitigating the impacts of climate change.

“Hadley Wood has the characteristics of a rural village rather than a London suburb. However, it is our view that recent and rapid development has harmed character and biodiversity, increased car use and added to flood risk.

“Between 2000 and 2018 the number of homes increased by a third, entirely by intensification of development on small sites, but with very limited accompanying investment in local infrastructure and services.”

Hadley Wood Neighbourhood Plan was drawn up following years of meetings, surveys and discussions within the community, led by a specialist group called Hadley Wood Neighbourhood Planning Forum.

Committee member David Harbott told the Dispatch: “It is has taken a long time and we have had some blips along the way.

“We have got a strong residents’ association, and a consultant helped facilitate the first workshop, then it grew from there.

“Hadley Wood is often forgotten about as part of Enfield and we consider ourselves more of a Hertfordshire village than a London suburb, so London planning policies don’t feel suitable for us. There is also a big difference between what is happening at Meridian Water on the other side of the borough and what is happening here.

“The planning policies we have been able to define are much more appropriate for Hadley Wood.”

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