What's a Neighbourhood Plan?
Neighbourhood planning gives us, the local community, direct power to develop a shared vision, and to shape the development and growth of our local area. We can choose where we want new homes, shops and offices to be built, have our say on what those new buildings should look like and what infrastructure should be provided, and grant planning permission for the new buildings we would like to see go ahead.
Neighbourhood planning provides a powerful set of tools for us to ensure that we get the right types of development for our community, where our ambition for the neighbourhood is aligned with the strategic needs and priorities of the wider area.
Why are we doing it?
To guide future development to ensure the best possible outcomes for the village and the parish as a whole. Once finalised, the neighbourhood plan becomes a legal document to be used by the parish council to evaluate new planning applications and by the borough council to enforce changes to planning applications which do not conform to the plan.
What is included in the neighbourhood plan?
The neighbourhood plan includes a vision statement, strategic aims and policies. The policies are the core of the neighbourhood plan. They are used by the parish planning committee to assess every planning application. Once the neighbourhood plan has been approved by the borough and accepted by the parish in a local referendum it has legal force and can be used by the planning committee to reject or amend applications if they contravene the requirements of one or more of the policies. In this way, the policies give the parish planning committee greater control over planning applications than they have now and, importantly the borough planning committee is also bound by them. It is important that the policies reflect the strategic aims of the parish so that they can be used to shape applications according to the wishes of the residents. Policies must be based on evidence collected during the preparation of the neighbourhood plan document they must not contravene any existing borough, national, or EU planning rules; and they must not duplicate policies that already exist in higher planning rules such as the Borough Council's local plan.
Can we put in anything we like?
No. Whilst there is scope to specify policies unique to Burghclere, all neighbourhood plans must conform to the government's National Planning Policy Framework and the Borough Council's Local Plan. There are limits as to what a neighbourhood plan can and can't do; for example, it cannot arbitrarily stop any new development. What it can do is give us the opportunity (perhaps our only opportunity) to influence the scale and nature of such development, and to ensure it is as good as it can be for our area.
How long will it take?
Usually between 2-3 years.
Who is involved?
This is a community-led project. The parish council has set up a steering group to undertake the detailed work involved. It will consult widely with parishioners, local businesses, landowners, schools and community groups such as the Sports Club, WI and others. Talks will also be held with the Borough Council, developers, adjoining parishes and other relevant authorities and organisations (e.g. Thames Water and SSE). Consultants will be engaged to help with the more detailed and technical aspects of the Plan and to prepare it for successful submission to the Borough Council.
How can I help?
We would be delighted to welcome volunteers to help with specific roles such as IT and publicity and from time to time with surveys and open meetings. Please contact the Parish Clerk at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to contribute - we need your support!
What's happening next?
The steering group will arrange a series of public events from which a vision, aims and policies can be generated.