Publow with Pensford Parish Council have applied to Bath and North East Somerset Council to develop a Neighbourhood Plan for our parish.
Bath and North East Somerset Council gave approval to this on 11th February 2015. View official approval here
The area covered includes Pensford, Publow, part of Woollard, Belluton and Whitley Batts
What is a Neighbourhood Plan?
• The Localism Act (2011) gave communities the right to influence the future development of their areas, especially but not exclusively in relation to planning decisions (location and type of housing, business premises and local amenities).
• A Neighbourhood Development Plan (or “Neighbourhood Plan”) is a framework for guiding the future development, regeneration and conservation of an area. It typically deals with social, economic and environmental issues, such as planning, employment, heritage and transport.
• All Neighbourhood Plans must be aligned to the National Planning Policy Framework and the Bath & North East Somerset Core Strategy which sets out planning policies for developing and managing the area until 2029.
• A Neighbourhood Plan looks forward 15 years and can include a community “wish list” of non-planning issues, e.g. renewable energy, mains gas, traffic on the A37 and through the villages, improved amenities, health and safety, conservation.
• A Neighbourhood Plan gives everyone in the designated area a chance to give their views on what they like about the area, what they would like to keep, what they would like to change and what they do not have but would like to have.
• It is a way of bringing people together so that they feel involved in decisions that affect them and their families.
• Once it is adopted by a local referendum, it is a legally binding document which cannot be ignored by the Local Authority when making decisions which affect the community.
• Most of our neighbouring parishes are developing their own Neighbourhood Plan: Stanton Drew, Bishop Sutton, Whitchurch, and 7 parishes in the Chew Valley are developing a joint Plan. There may be strength in numbers, particularly over issues such as traffic management/improvements; high speed broadband; mains gas; renewable energy projects; conservation; footpaths.
Who organises it?
• Publow with Pensford Parish Council have to lead and approve the process and are helped by a Neighbourhood Planning Committee, consisting of Parish councillors and residents. More volunteers are welcome! All you need is a couple of hours a month to attend a meeting. If you have a particular interest – e.g. provision for children or old people, housing, traffic in the village and on the A37, conservation, local businesses, renewable energy and high speed broadband – then joining the Committee could be the opportunity to highlight your views.
• If you are interested – or just want more information – please contact Julie Bragg, Clerk to the Parish Council. Julie can be contacted on 01275 333549 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How is the Plan prepared?
There are 5 stages:
1. Designate the Area – already done. It is the Parish of Publow with Pensford i.e. Pensford, Publow, part of Woollard, Whitley Batts and Belluton.
2. Consult with the community to determine the key areas for inclusion in the Plan. This will be achieved through open meetings, a questionnaire, feedback meetings, publicity through the Parish Magazine, the Parish Council website, meetings with local groups.
3. Produce a draft Neighbourhood Plan. This draft is published locally for further comment before being submitted to B&NES who check that it is in line with existing national and local policies.
4. The draft Plan is then submitted by B&NES to an independent examiner who again ensures that it is within the scope of the Act before it can be taken to the next stage.
5. There is a local referendum in which all residents in the designated area can vote whether to adopt the Plan or not. The Plan is adopted by a simple majority of those who vote (as at a General Election).
6. The Plan is then a legally binding document.
Who pays for it?
• Ultimately central government using funding already set aside from our taxes! The Parish Council can apply for grants to cover costs that they incur (e.g. printing, distribution of the questionnaire, administration costs, hire of Hall/meeting rooms etc). B&NES are responsible for paying the costs of the inspection and the referendum – costs which they recoup from central government.
How long will it all take?
• The process started in the autumn of 2014 and is likely to take up to 2 years.
• We hope it will be less, but there are statutory periods of consultation to allow time for amendments and objections.
• The most important stage is community consultation. This started in late May with open, “drop-in” style meetings.
• These meetings are now followed by a Questionnaire to all households in the Area. This Questionnaire is based on the concerns expressed at the “drop in” meetings.
• The results of the questionnaire will be analysed and published and then discussed at further public meetings.
• The next stage is to draw up the draft Plan based on the views expressed during the consultation period. This draft Plan will again be publicised and comments invited.
• Once it is agreed locally it goes to B&NES for approval and then to the independent examiner.
• If it is approved, the local referendum takes place. This could be towards the end of 2016.
And finally…… There is a lot more information at www.bathnes.gov.uk/neighbourhoodplanning
Feedback from the Consultation held on 22/23 May 2015
Two drop-in meetings were held for local residents on 22nd and 23rd May – you can download a full report here
You can download Minutes of our Neighbourhood Planning Meetings here: