The Unity Neighbourhood Forum (incorporating Church End and Roundwood) has received designated forum status from Brent Council under the Localism Act 2011 recently, writes Patrick Vernon.
The Unity Neighbourhood Forum is part of the legacy of Brent Fair Share Trust which has been operating as a community development agency with lead support from London Community Foundation. The Big Lottery provided £865,000 of funding for projects between 2005-2013 working in the former local authority wards Church End and Roundwood (now Dudden Hill and Harlesden Ward (www.fairsharebrent.org.uk).
Through the recent evaluation of Fair Share Trust Brent, using Social Return on Investment, we found that for every £1 we had invested in funding local project received a social return of £3. This has been achieved by helping people get back into work, reducing isolation, improving self-esteem, reducing costs for welfare benefits and creating opportunities for children and families.
Forum secretary and local resident Neil Jackson said “This is the culmination of a process we started in 2012. I am delighted that we have achieved our aim of forming the forum, and the community now has to develop its own plan for the neighbourhood. We want to work in partnership with Brent Council to regenerate an area that has been allowed to decline for too long.”
The 2011 Localism Act provides an opportunity to build on the assets and learning from Fair Share to develop a Church End and Roundwood approach to localism. Namely:
- Setting up a Neighbourhood Forum which would have a distinctive legal entity with the local community, business and political representatives;
- Development of a Neighbourhood Plan (this would be building on priorities review process but would require technical details around building, planning developments and environmental considerations);
- The Neighbourhood Forum and plan would attract funding from DCLG and other funders e.g. Big Lottery around community engagement and commissioning/delivery of services;
- This would create the platform to buy or have assets transferred to the local community e.g. The Unity Centre;
- The forum would develop and provide the leadership and capacity skills for local people to engage with Brent Council and other local partners.
The Forum plans fit in with the council’s spatial vision for Brent, as set out in the Core Strategy, and its designation of Church End as a growth area and we wish to work with the Council to bring forward a planning document for the area. The Forum will provide clear guidance and direction to developers so local residents and businesses can benefit from any regeneration of the area.
The Forum has made a formal submission to the proposed development on Church Road by Brent Council. The Forum has organised a number of meetings with local businesses and community organisations to ensure comments and feedback will influence the Council and also Catalyst Housing plans.
We submitted to Brent Council back in in May are formally plans which the Council consulted the public on the proposed plans for the establishment of the Unity Neighbourhood Forum The consultation documentation application can still be viewed on their website
The Forum’s first priority is to influence the developments taking place in Church Road and develop a local Neighbourhood Plan.
The Forum intends to gain charitable status so that it can raise funds for projects in the Neighbourhood.
The forum meets every 6- 8 weeks at the Unity Centre as part of its early phase of development. For more information or to get involved please contact Neil Jackson, Unity Neighbourhood Forum Secretary on 07593 937 773, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patrick Vernon is the former Chair of Brent Fair Share Trust and facilitator for the development of the Neighbourhood Forum