Westminster Council approves Queens Park Parish Council

Out-Law News | 27 Jun 2012 | 3:15 pm | 1 min. read

Westminster Council's Cabinet has approved an application by the Queens Park Community Council for designation as a Parish Council, which would make it the first Parish Council in London for 50 years. 

The full Council agreed to the application at a general meeting on Monday evening and it is hoped that a Parish Council could be established by 2014.

Designation as a Parish Council would give residents an advantage in planning improvements to the area; would help attract investment, and would unite the community and give local people a much needed voice, the Queens Park Community Council said  (7-Pages / 2MB PDF).

"The move to establish a Community Council is supported by Government legislation and policy designed to strengthen localism," it said.

Parish Councils are eligible to apply for a Neighbourhood Plan under the Neighbourhood Planning Regulations.

Parish Council status could allow the Queens Park Parish Council to set up new neighbourhood planning powers and to establish general planning policies for the development and use of land in its Parish.

The power for London Boroughs to establish parish councils was re-established by the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act in 2007 following their abolition in 1963. No parish councils have been established in London since the 2007 law was enacted.

The decision to explore the creation of a parish council was in response to a petition signed by 2,181 people in Queens Park last year. Over the past year the Council conducted the Community Governance Review to explore the idea.

Over 400 responses were received to the review's initial consultation, with 87% directly supporting the creation of the parish council. A referendum held by Westminster Council gave all Queens Park residents the opportunity to vote on whether they would like to have a parish council.

A total of 1,000 residents in Queen's Park voted in favour of establishing a parish council, whilst 508 voted against it. With approximately 8,000 residents in the area, the referendum had a return rate of 20%, said Westminster City Council.

"I am delighted that the residents of Queen's Park have given a clear endorsement to the proposal for the community council," said Robert Davis, the deputy leader for Westminster City Council. "For Westminster to have the first parish council in London for 50 years would be a fitting endorsement of the Government's ambitions for localism and neighbourhood engagement."

The Queen's Park Campaign Group have set out their intention to levy a precept of between £3.30 and £3.70 a month or between £39.60 and £44.40 per year (for a Band D property) to raise over £100,000 per year to pay for the set up and ongoing running costs of the Parish Council.