Neighbourhood Planning – What we did in 2015

When we started to develop our Neighbourhood Plan I don’t think any of us envisaged it would take more than two years! Here we are at the start of 2016 entering year three of our endeavours; I can at last see some light at the end of the tunnel. Our Plan will of course be linked to the South Worcestershire Development Plan which is expected to be adopted around Easter time 2016. We will be aiming to have our plan drafted, but not approved, in a similar timescale.

It may not have been obvious to many of you but a lot has been going on in the background to try to develop and refine the potential content of the Plan. So once again I would like to thank my fellow Steering Group members, all of whom have contributed a great deal of their time, also those residents who have helped by contributing their time, expert knowledge and insights.

The tasks and events of 2015 are noted below.

  • The early part of the year was devoted to the gathering of hard evidence to support the views ascertained during 2014. Four working groups comprising steering group leaders and community members worked upon:
    • Housing Needs
    • Housing and Business Sites
    • Historic Landscape and Assets
    • Infrastructure

    The sources of information included national and local statistics.

    The evidence gathering took longer than planned therefore we started to overlap activities in order to progress on a broad front.

  • During the Spring we decided that rather than having a ‘Vision’ for the community we would have a series of Aims supported by Objectives. The Aims were agreed by the Parish Council in March but the Objectives were not finished until the start of June.
  • Making the Aims and Objectives a reality depends upon the adoption and effectiveness of related policies. Most of the second half of the year has been devoted to identifying policy areas, sourcing policy wording and drafting relevant policies. We are still refining these now.
  • In August we appointed Data Orchard, a firm of planning consultants, to help ensure our policies were worded correctly and would be likely to pass external inspection.
  • In September we held an informal consultation at three different venues in the Parish to present our ideas to the community. 75 residents attended and 10 non-residents who were interested to see what we were doing.
  • In November we presented the same ideas to the Parish Council to ensure their ongoing support.
  • Throughout the year the Steering Group has met on numerous occasions, quite often in workshop format rather than formal meetings, and there have been other working groups involving community members. We have held meetings with external bodies including the Three Counties Agricultural Society, Malvern Hills District Council and various land owners.

So what will 2016 bring?

We have to:

  • Finish the Policies
  • Write the Neighbourhood Plan document
  • Produce a Design Guide
  • Get approval from the community
  • Get approval from MHDC
  • Go through a formal consultation process
  • Subject the plan to an independent external inspection
  • Put the plan up for formal community approval via a referendum and finally –
  • Implement it!

Thank you for your continuing support and best wishes for the year ahead.

Parish Councillor Bob Lamb

Steering Group Chairman