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The Journey

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.