Neighbourhood Planning for Chilton
Neighbourhood Development Plans- An overview
Q. What are they?
A Neighbourhood Development Plan (or Neighbourhood Plan for short) is a plan developed by local communities to determine and represent the views of the community in setting priorities and policies for the development of the community in accordance with the District Council’s Local Plan.
Once approved, the Planning Authority (VWHDC) is required to take note of the Neighbourhood Plan in making planning decisions.
They emanate from the Localism Act 2011 to further encourage community involvement in the planning system.
Q. What are they not?
They are not a means to contradict or thwart development that is in accordance with the Local Plan.
They have no power to contradict planning policy resulting from higher level authorities: European Directives, national policies and guidance, regional policies, county or district policies. In fact, to get the Neighbourhood Plan approved you have to demonstrate compliance with all higher level authorities.
Q. What are the potential benefits?
- Provides a means of identifying local priorities for planning decisions within the constraints of the Local Plan.
- Provides a means of documenting local priorities to be taken in account by the District Planning authority when making planning decisions.
- Gives the Parish an increased financial contribution (from up to 15% to 25%) from the Community Interest Levy (once the CIL is implemented) to spend on those priorities defined by the local community.
- The process of developing the plan requires considerable community involvement and extensive community consultation. This has the potential for enhancing community building within the Parish.
- The process of developing the plan will likely involve some interaction with other Parishes, particularly those adjacent to Chilton, so enhancing cross-Parish communication and cooperation.
- The process of developing the plan will help generate improved communication channels with District planning officers and other officials.
- In the longer term, Neighbourhood Plans should provide further opportunity to influence the development of future revisions of the Local Plan.
- Having a Neighbourhood Plan makes accounting for CIL spending much easier.
Q. Are there any disbenefits?
- A Neighbourhood Plan requires quite a lot of work to take it through to its final stage.
- This is not a ‘once and for all’ task. There will be an ongoing requirement to intermittently review and update the Neighbourhood Plan to reflect changes in higher authority policies or our own local priorities.
Q. Are there any risks in doing a Neighbourhood Plan?
- Without an agreed 5 year land supply or Local Plan developed by VWHDC and formally accepted, there remains a national policy that speculative development applications should be approved (unless they conflict with higher level authorities) irrespective of whether a Neighbourhood Plan exists or not. Until these key documents have been agreed the effort in producing the Neighbourhood Plan may be considered by some to be of limited value. In practice, both VWHDC documents should be ratified in the time it takes to develop the Neighbourhood Plan such that District and Parish initiatives can proceed in parallel.
- The process requires developing a consensus on local priorities. If not managed skilfully this could result in ill feeling rather than improved community relations with some sectors of the community. In particular, the development of the plan may involve identifying suitable locations for further development within the Parish.
- There is a risk, albeit only hypothetical at present, that Government policy will change so that Neighbourhood Plans cease to have their current intended purpose.
Q. Are there any risks in not doing/ delaying starting the production of a Neighbourhood Plan?
- If the intended objective of the Localism Bill 2011 continues, Neighbourhood Plans will be a primary means for providing local input to current and future planning policies and decisions.
- Without a Neighbourhood Plan there would be less evidence that the views of the local community have been sought and reflected in local policies to be considered in planning decisions. The views of the Parish Council as a consultee in determining planning applications may therefore carry less weight than they would do if an approved Neighbourhood Plan were in existence.
- As more Parishes start to develop Neighbourhood Plans and get them approved, then not having one may result in marginalisation and less influence.
- Delaying the start of developing the Neighbourhood Plan, for example awaiting the outcome of stage 1 or 2 of the Local Plan and/or the securing a 5 year land supply, will delay realising the potential benefits of having a Plan.
Q, What is the process for developing a Neighbourhood Plan?
This would need to be confirmed and developed in consultation with the VWHDC Neighbourhood Planning officer, but broadly, the steps are:
- Decision to proceed.
- Area Designation for the Neighbourhood Plan.
- Acceptance by SODC/VWHDC of Area Designation.
- Preparing a Project Plan and securing funding.
- Prepare an indicative cost framework.
- Prepare the Plan:
- Community Questionnaires
- Identify priorities
- Prepare Policies
- Identify objectives
- Test plan proposals against priorities, policies and objectives
- Prepare draft plan
- Communicate and consult on draft plan within community
- Prepare consultation statement
- Prepare basic conditions compliance statement
- Prepare Strategic Environmental Assessment and Sustainability Appraisal
- Consult with statutory consultees
- Submit Plan and supporting documentation to VWHDC
- Submit Plan and supporting documentation to independent examiner.
- Conduct referendum on acceptance within local community
Q. What are the costs?
These will vary according to area designation, use of consultants, existing documentation, degree and form of public consultation/publicity
As a guide it was said that Woodcote spent £10k in developing the plan and £3K in publicising it. Thame Town spent upwards of £40k making extensive use of consultants.
Q. Are there any grants available for developing a Neighbourhood Plan?
Yes, there are District and Government grants but we are not sure how the latter operates. The District would give a grant of £5k to a small village like Chilton and there may also be some top-up from Government. At present, VWHDC policy is not to give multiple grants if more than more Parish combines to prepare a joint Neighbourhood Plan but this policy is currently under review.
Q. Are there any particular points for Chilton residents and the Parish Council to consider?
Yes. The inclusion of Rutherford Appleton, Diamond, ESA and other Harwell Campus agencies within and adjacent to the parish boundary poses questions over the most appropriate area designation.
- Should the boundary coincide with the parish boundary?
- Should the boundary exclude that portion of the Harwell Campus within the parish?
- Should the boundary include all of the Harwell Campus?
- Should Chilton combine with adjacent parishes to produce a combined Neighbourhood Plan?
Also: Chilton Parish lies in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Any policies developed in the plan should be consistent with planning and other land use guidance specific to AONBs.
Q. What are the next steps?
- The VWHDC Neighbourhood Planning Office gave a presentation on the benefits, costs and process of development of Neighbourhood Plans at the last Chilton Parish Council meeting. As the Plan will be developed by a Steering Group drawn from the community, rather than by just the Parish Council, we are using this meeting to try to gauge the community’s interest in the process.
- Based partly on feedback from this Annual Parish Meeting, Chilton PC will decide whether to proceed with next steps at this time.
If positive decision, agree an appropriate Project Lead and broad composition of an appropriate project team. This would involve members of the community and to a lesser extent parish councillors. Project Lead to coordinate preparation of project plan and communication plan with key dates.
Chilton Field Play Area Consultation
The second consultation was held on Saturday 14th of May
The Consultation has now closed and results will be available soon.