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An open forum meeting was held in the Wellesbourne Village Hall in early February 2014 where the incentive for producing a neighbourhood plan was explained to be that it would have “statutory status” and must be taken into account by Stratford District Council when making any decisions impacting on our villages. This provides a much stronger position to challenge changes that might otherwise be imposed upon our villages.  A resounding vote was taken by the near 150 residents present at the meeting in favour of supporting the development of a neighbourhood plan covering Wellesbourne and Walton which was subsequently endorsed by the Parish Council.

A Steering Committee of local residents was set up to develop the neighbourhood plan with the initial task of establishing what needed to be done, when this should happen and how we can eventually achieve acceptance of the proposals that we develop.   A key part of this work was to ensure full engagement with residents, organisations, businesses and land owners within our area so that all views were taken into account and, as far as posible, adequately represented.

First of all, why did we select the name “Walton and Wellesbourne Way” for our neighbourhood plan?  Well, we decided that we needed a name that both referred to both of our villages and in some way link them together.  While many suggestions were forthcoming we eventually concluded that we should keep it as simple and as short as possible, so the word “Way” was added to the names of our villages.  The intention of “Way” was to express the joining of our villages through the connecting lanes and the river and also as a declaration that this plan was about our “Way” of wanting to see things done!

The journey to create our neighbourhood plan was originally envisaged to take about three years to complete but it now looks like this will be slightly over four years.  We know that seems a long time and we have been doing all we can to keep it on track, and where possible to speed it up.  However we have to recognise that we need to comply with statutory procedural requirements as part of the development process and the final recommendations verified by local, district and central government planning organisations before gaining acceptance.

So let’s briefly explain the steps have made up the journey so far and what extra steps are still needed.  

January to June 2014:

Set up a Steering Committee comprising local residents and Councillors

Elect a Chairman (John Hargis) and allocate roles and responsibilities to all members

Agree terms of reference

Set up a plan of action with milestone objectives

Establish the area for which the neighbourhood plan will apply

Seek endorsement from Stratford District Council to proceed

Obtain grant funding to support the work of the team

Organise first round of resident engagements (Street Fayres, School Fete)

July to December 2014:

Arrange Open Forum session to get further feedback from residents

Hold engagement session with a selected number of organisations, businesses and land owners to seek their views

Review feedback from all engagement sessions and develop a comprehensive questionnaire

Send out questionnaire to all everyone within our community to seek response on how our villages should evolve

January to June 2015:

Analyse feedback from questionnaires

Establish key themes and prioritise issues

Prepare aims and vision statements

Draft policies and specific proposals

Prepare a plan

July to December 2015:

Prepare a draft report stating policies and proposals

Consult within the community on the draft report and amend as necessary

Submit updated report to the Parish Council for support

January to June 2016:

Amend report to reflect feedback from Parish Council/others

Prepare Pre-Consultation report version of the proposed policies

Organise publicity for the launch of a 6 week consultation on the proposed policies

Notify all residents of the Parish, plus adjacent parishes and local businesses and developers

Notify Stratford District Council, and Statutory Organisations (Natural England, Historic England, EA)  

June to December 2016:

Hold 6 week consultation including ‘drop-in’ sessions and an open form session

Review feedback from consultation and propose amendments to Parish Council

Update report based on Parish Council recommendations

Seek endorsement of Statutory Organisations (Natural England, Historic England, EA)

January to June 2017:

Undertake additional work to substantiate extent of flooding within Wellesbourne

Obtain views of a consultant as to whether a full Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) is required

Receive feedback from consultant that their ‘Screening report’ concludes that no full SEA is needed

Prepare a report on the consultation process that has been undertaken

Prepare a report that demonstrates the ‘basic conditions’ required by the NDP have been followed

Obtain ‘sign off’ by the Parish Council on the Submission report version of the proposed policies

July to December 2017:

Submit the Submission Report and associated Consultation and Basic Conditions reports to SDC

SDC arranges 6 week District-wide consultation

Inspector who will undertake the formal review of the NDP polices is confirmed by SDC

Comments received from the consultation are sent along with the main reports for the Inspector

January to June 2018:

Feedback received from Inspector

Amendments made to report to accommodate guidance from Inspector

Inspector gives approval for revised version of the Submission report

Parish Council and District Council agree that the NDP can proceed to Referendum

Referendum held which is open to whole community to vote on the Plan

Plan is “Made” (approved) if greater than 50% of vote is in favour of the adoption.

Plan adopted as an integral part of District Local Plan

The Journey