What is a Neighbourhood Plan?
The coalition government believes that as many decisions as possible should be taken at a local level and the Localism Act enshrines this in law. Neighbourhood Plan (NP) is seen as a way of enabling local communities to have their say about the future of their community.
What powers will it have?
When it is completed the NP will go forward to a referendum. If it gets a simple majority of those voting it will be adopted by Arun District Council (ADC) become part of their Local Plan and be a legal document backed by the force of law.
What area does it cover?
A Neighbourhood Development Plan should cover the whole of a neighbourhood area. To most people Barnham Village is not seen as two separate parishes instead it is seen a whole village – Barnham Village. Therefore the NP will be that for Barnham. It was necessary to get cooperation between both parishes before this could be started. However this did not happen until after the Eastergate Parish by-election on 16 Feb 2012 had elected a clear majority of parish councillors who wanted a combined parish for Barnham and certainly wanted close cooperation between both parishes until that happened. Eastergate Village is divided in the similar manner between Eastergate Parish Council and Aldingbourne Parish Council and there is a suggestion that these parish boundaries should also be considered. All three parish councils have agreed to cooperate regarding planning development. In addition a cluster group of Aldingbourne, Barnham, Eastergate and Walberton Parish Councils have been set up to deal with issues that affect the whole area.
Does it mean that it can decide how many houses can be built in the area?
The decision about the number of houses is taken by the planning authority – which is ADC. The NP has to be in broad agreement with ADC’s Local Plan. A greater number houses than that shown by ADC draft plan (100 dwellings for Barnham Parish and 100 for Eastergate by 2028) can be agreed.
What can the NP do?
It can give local people a real voice in deciding the look and feel of development in the areaas it can decide the location and standards of design of future development. It will also give residents a chance to say what else they are concerned about. In turn this will help influence and improve local facilities and establish a long term vision for the parishes.
How will the Neighbourhood Plan be drawn up?
The parish councils provide the lead. The first step has been to produce a questionnaire which answers the questions as to the concerns and issues of residents in the area. The next step will be information gathering to discover more about the area and provide evidence regarding areas of concern. This would include consulting with the various statutory bodies such as the Environmental Agency. Thirdly a draft NP should be drawn up and then another far more detailed survey of the community would be undertaken. The draft NP would be amended and submitted to an independent examiner. If it was accepted there would be a referendum on the NP.