Neighbourhood Plan

Background

Since April 2012, local communities have been able to produce Neighbourhood Plans for their local area, putting in place planning policies for the future development and growth of the neighbourhood. Etchingham, Robertsbridge and Ticehurst have all decided to develop Neighbourhood Plans.

On 13th October 2015 the Parish Council agreed in principle to a Neighbourhood Plan subject to a review of full costings and public consultation which shows a majority in favour. In January 2016 the Parish Council voted to go ahead and produce a Neighbourhood Plan.  This was after an initial community consultation which resulted in 181 replies with only two "no" votes against producing a Neighbourhood Plan.

In November 2016, a consultation questionnaire was sent out to all households asking for their input into the key components of the Neighbourhood Plan. This also included a call for sites. Click here for an initial analysis of the consultation.

The Parish Council also reviewed the costings and has earmarked £2,000 from reserves and will apply for £8,000 in grants giving a total of £10,000 to spend on producing the Neighbourhood Plan.

A Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group has also been set up including Cllr Caulkin, Cllr Elmslie, Cllr McBride, Cllr Durrant, Cllr Kenny and Cllr Moore.  Helena King has recently joined the group as the Secretary and Cllr Barnes is also part of the Steering Group.

What is Neighbourhood Planning?

A Neighbourhood Plan is a community-led framework for guiding the future development and growth of an area. It may contain a vision, aims, planning policies, proposals for improving the area or providing new facilities, or allocation of key sites for specific kinds of development. Neighbourhood plans relate to the use and development of land and associated social, economic and environmental issues. It may deal with a wide range of issues (like housing, employment, heritage and transport) or it may focus on one or two issues that are of particular importance in a local area.

It must be stressed that the policies produced cannot block development that is already part of the Local Plan. What they can do is shape where that development will go and what it will look like.  It can allow greater growth levels.

A Neighbourhood Plan must comply with European and national legislation and must have appropriate regard to national policy and be in general conformity with existing strategic local planning policy.

A robust programme of community engagement and proportionate evidence base should help to make sure that a neighbourhood plan is based on a proper understanding of the local area and of the views, aspirations, wants and needs of local people.  Producing a clear project plan with key milestones could be very helpful in guiding the plan-making process.

Once a Neighbourhood Plan has been completed, it will have to be submitted to the local authority and then be subjected to an independent examination. This will make sure that the proper legal process has been followed and that the plan meets the basic conditions, including general conformity with strategic local policy.

 

What are the benefits to a community of developing a neighbourhood plan?

Neighbourhood planning enables communities to play a much stronger role in shaping the areas in which they live and work and in supporting new development proposals. This is because unlike the parish, village or town plans that communities may have prepared, a neighbourhood plan forms part of the development plan and sits alongside the Local Plan prepared by the local planning authority. Decisions on planning applications will be made using both the Local Plan and the neighbourhood plan, and any other material considerations.

Neighbourhood planning provides the opportunity for communities to set out a positive vision for how they want their community to develop over the next ten, fifteen, twenty years in ways that meet identified local need and make sense for local people. They can put in place planning policies that will help deliver that vision or grant planning permission for the development they want to see.

Whilst the Local Plan covers the whole district, a Neighbourhood Plan would be focused on the needs of the neighbourhood and would allow the local community to specify in more detail what they expect from development. For example, it could contain more detail on things like urban design, affordable housing, and preferred sites/locations for housing and other development. This is about guiding and shaping development, not undermining the delivery of development in that area.

The plan could also guide the provision of infrastructure, for example, setting out priorities for new development such as improving pedestrian links, upgrading paths and open space. This would inform subsequent negotiations between local authorities and developers.

To help deliver their vision communities that take a proactive approach by drawing up a neighbourhood plan or Order and secure the consent of local people in a referendum, will benefit from 25 percent of the revenues from the Community Infrastructure Levy arising from the development that takes place in their area.

To summarise:

  • It would give the local community a stronger role in shaping our villages and the Parish.
  • It is community led and would be specific to our Parish.
  • Provides the opportunity to set planning policies for the village.
  • The plan could guide provision of infrastructure.
  • Burwash could retain 25% of the Community Infrastructure Levy rather than up to 15%.  

Are there any disadvantages and things to Consider?

The scope and complexity of the plan will depend on various factors, including what is already covered in the core strategy, the nature of the area in question (for example economic conditions and expected level of growth) and the community’s preferred outcomes. A plan could be wide-ranging, or deal with one or two issues only. It could be detailed, or simply set general principles for development. The choice is down to the body producing the plan. This will clearly have significant implications in terms of time and cost.

The Parish Council has estimated that the full cost will be £10,000. Government grants of £8,000 towards these costs are widely available and the Parish Council has budgeted for £1,000 per year over the next two financial years. This will be fully funded through existing resources. 

In the unlikely event that we are unable to obtain the Government grant we will not proceed without seeking further advice from the community. 

There are also more informal plans such as parish plans or community plans. These could be a material consideration in planning decisions, but not have statutory status as part of the local development plan, so would carry far less weight. If you find your issues are ‘big picture’ ones such as the need for additional roads (such as a by-pass) or flood-related or to do with sustainability and urban design standards, then you may be better off trying to influence the higher level Local Plan.

 

Neighbourhood Plan

Public Consultation Old Rectory Court - Thursday 29th June 3-6.30pm at The Internet Cafe
Burwash Community Fund AGM - Thursday 29th June 7.30pm at The Bear
The Rude Mechanical Theatre -  28th July at 7.30pm at Swan Meadow.

For a full list of events this month then please go to 
Burwash Parish Diary. If  you have updates or wish to add details of future events please get in touch via Burwash Parish Clerk.