Neighbourhood Planning – What we did in 2014

So here we are at the start of 2015 and we have been working upon Neighbourhood Planning for nearly twelve months. What have we achieved in that period?

  • January – The Parish Council decided to produce a Neighbourhood Plan in our own right and not to share the task with other Parishes. The core of a Steering Group was formed comprising Councillors Adeney, Atkinson and Lamb.
  • February – Initial informal discussions took place about the issues, including involvement from former Parish Plan team members.
  • March – An Introductory Event held at the village hall was well attended by around 80 parishioners. This helped to identify and focus on some specific topics. We submitted our formal application to be designated a Neighbourhood Area to MHDC.
  • April – The Steering Group defined in more detail the coverage of the topic areas and identified the need to involve members of the community in further developing these.
  • May – The Steering Group agreed the management framework for the project. Members of the community were invited in to help develop potential questions for the residential questionnaire.
  • June – We designed the residential questionnaire.
  • July – A busy month, in which we organised the distribution of the questionnaires, sourced a means of inputting and analysing the answers and designed the business questionnaire. The residential questionnaires were distributed before the schools broke up for the summer. We had a stall at the Big Lunch on the village green and were kept busy with questions most of the day. Also this month we heard formally from MHDC that Hanley Castle Parish had been designated a Neighbourhood Area. We also started the process of collecting demographic data about the Parish from various official sources.
  • August –Volunteers put in a great deal of effort to enter the data from the residential questionnaires into ‘Survey Monkey’ for analysis. We had an overall response rate of 38%. The Steering Group looked at the best way to format and present the results.
  • September – The design of the business questionnaire was finished and emailed to all the businesses we could identify within the Parish. Recipients keyed their answers directly into Survey Monkey.
  • October – We decided to display the results of the residential questionnaire at an exhibition, so part of this month was spent in planning for it. We also collated and analysed the results of the business questionnaire, where we had a response rate of 40% similar to that from residents.
  • November – The results exhibition was held on the 1st of November and attended by over 70 residents. The Steering Group then turned to the next stage of the project which is to further develop our evidence base; we identified a number of key topics:
    • Residential and Business Development Sites;
    • Parish Characteristics, Historic Landscape and Assets Assessment;
    • Understanding and Defining Infrastructure Issues;
    • Housing Needs Assessment;
    • Design Guide
  • December – Further time was spent scoping and agreeing the detail of the above topics before the group members took a well-earned break.

So now we start again in 2015 with community teams being formed to develop the evidence base topics.

I would like to thank my fellow Steering Group members and all those residents who have helped by contributing their time and thoughts and also those of you who responded to our requests for information.

Best wishes for the year ahead.

Parish Councillor Bob Lamb

Steering Group Chairman