Neighbourhood Plan passes screening test!
An open forum meeting was held in the Wellesbourne Village Hall in early February 2014 where the incentive of producing a neighbourhood plan was explained to be that it would have “statutory status” which 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 has now been set up to develop the neighbourhood plan with the initial task of establishing what needs 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 is to ensure full engagement with residents, organisations, businesses and land owners within our area so that all views can be taken into account and adequately represented.
First of all, why did we select the name “Walton and Wellesboune 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 fothcoming 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 will take in the region of two and a half years to complete. We know that seems a long time and we will do 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 must be verified by local, district and central government planning organisations before gaining acceptance.
So let’s briefly define the steps that make up the journey Walton and Wellesbourne have now embarked upon.
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 (Steet 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:
Submit to Stratford District Council for review and environmental assessment
Stratford District Council nominates an Examiner for independent assessment of the plan
Examiner gives his ruling
June to September 2016:
Referendum held involving whole community to vote on acceptance of plan
Plan is “made” (approved) if greater than 50% of vote in favour of the adoption.