Updated 22nd September 2018
With the extraordinary delay in the progress of our Neighbourhood Plan, the Steering Group would like to inform the community on the latest position.
Following all the work that was put in to engage with the community by way of surveys and consultations, the Steering Group completed the Draft version of the Neighbourhood Plan early in 2017 and a Submitted Version was then presented to the parish councils who both ratified it in March/April, last year, ready to be passed over to the LPA – the royal borough.
Before the LPA could proceed with our plan to the next regulatory stages, it needed to assess whether a full Statutory Environmental Assessment (SEA) was required. This was officially requested via our NPlan link officer in February 2017 and the Steering Group expected a swift response – and expectations were that a full screening was not needed as our plan did not promote any development.
The advice we had was that as the plan did not allocate sites for development it would not have any significant effect upon the environment and therefore did not cross the threshold that would trigger a full SEA.
However, despite repeated urgent requests for an opinion, this situation dragged on for more than a year and, frustrated with this failure by officers at RBWM, we had to ask the Ministry of Housing (MHCLG) to intervene. This they did which brought a swift response from RBWM in April 2018 – unbelievably saying an SEA was needed.
Our professional consultant was horrified with this opinion, and sought further advice about having an independent second opinion. Following talks with officials at MHCLG this seemed the best way to proceed and so the parish councils appointed Lepus Consulting, who have good knowledge of our area as they also act as consultants for the Local Plan especially on environmental matters.
This second screening opinion has now been carried out which concludes that the H&W NPlan does not need a full SEA/HRA screenout and this report has been sent to the statutory bodies (the EA, NE and EH).
Once responses are received, Lepus will then send the report to RBWM whom we hope will sensibly accept this under the SEA regulations. This should happen by the end of the month.
Once that happens, RBWM takes over the NPlan and proceeds with its own 6-week public consultation, then appoints an independent Examiner to scrutinise the plan.
The Examiner will then decide whether the plan proceeds to referendum as submitted or suggests modifications to the LPA so as to meet basic conditions - and then the modified version proceeds to a referendum.
With such a long delay, despite much bewilderment we hope the community understands the frustrations we all feel at this bureaucracy failure and maintain the belief the Neighbourhood Plan may yet come to fruition.
Review of Draft
The draft submission version is available on the Latest Draft page. it will be replaced by the submission version when the Borough deliberations as mentioned above are complete and the plan actually submitted
See news page for more information.
The broken links on the additional documents page have been fixed.
What is a Neighbourhood plan?
A Neighbourhood Plan is a way of helping local communities to influence the future planning of the area in which they live and work. The Plan must be an evidence-based assessment of the social, economic and environmental needs of a community. This Plan will give the local community an opportunity to have a greater say in the planning and development of the village over the next ten to fifteen years. Once adopted the Plan will have legal weight and will be used when making planning decisions in the Parish.
A Neighbourhood Plan allows us all to:-