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Setting up a neighbourhood forum and area

How to get started

As a starting point, we would recommend that interested groups read the Tower Hamlets neighbourhood planning guidance notes (stage 1 and 2) and the Tower Hamlets service offer, as well as the application forms.

This will provide you with a full overview of the process of designating a neighbourhood area, becoming a designated neighbourhood forum and the process of developing a neighbourhood plan, as well as the support the council and other organisations can provide during the process.

We  want to ensure that your applications are approved in a smooth and timely manner. In order to support this process, we encourage interested groups to meet and begin discussions with the plan making team, well in advance of submitting an application.

This meeting will provide advice and guidance on key considerations, which will help to ensure that the area and forum, as applied for can be designated without delays.

Email neighbourhoodplanning@towerhamlets.gov.uk or call 020 7364 5000 to set up the meeting.


In order to increase the speed and ease of decision making, and to make the process more manageable for prospective forums, we strongly suggest that:

  • first you should submit your application for a neighbourhood area
  • secondly, once an area has been designated,  you should submit your application for a neighbourhood forum.

Once you are a designated neighbourhood forum, you are able to progress with making a neighbourhood development plan or order.

The Tower Hamlets neighbourhood planning guidance notes (stage 1 and 2) and the Tower Hamlets service offer provides more information and support on this process.

Decision making

In order to meet central government’s newly imposed timeframes for determining neighbourhood planning areas, and to ensure applicants receive timely responses, decisions regarding the determination of neighbourhood areas and forums will now be made by Individual Mayoral Decision, rather than by the Mayor in Cabinet, unless it is possible for a decision for the Mayor to be made in Cabinet.

In order to ensure the transparency of this process, a decision notice will be published 28 days in advance of the decision being made and the decision will be subject to the five day call-in period. Once the decision has been made, it will be published on the council’s website. A report of all individual Mayoral decisions made in the month prior to Cabinet, is published at each Cabinet meeting.


Tower Hamlets neighbourhood planning guidance notes 

We have developed the Tower Hamlets Neighbourhood Planning guidance notes to bring together the various governmental information sources into a single reference point and to provide guidance on how the council will be supporting and managing the neighbourhood planning process. 

Service offer

We have also produced a service offer which outlines our statutory duties and additional support we will provide to prospective and designated neighbourhood forums, in order to fulfil our duty to:

“give ... advice or assistance to ... facilitate the making of proposals for Neighbourhood Development Orders [/ Plans] in relation to neighbourhood areas within their area.” (Town and Country Planning Act, 1990, Schedule 4B paragraph 3)

The service offer should be read alongside both guidance notes

Application forms

We have developed two application forms: one to apply to establish a neighbourhood area and one to apply to establish a neighbourhood forum. The forms seek to ensure that the we have sufficient information to make an informed decision on the designation of a forum and area.

Useful links 

Contact information

Email: neighbourhoodplanning@towerhamlets.gov.uk
Tel: 020 7364 5000