West Bergholt Neighbourhood Plan
(8) 5. Introduction
5.1 About Neighbourhood Plans
The Localism Act 2011 introduced a number of measures allowing communities to shape the future of their area and to deliver the sustainable development that they need. One of these measures is the Neighbourhood Plan. This is a new type of planning document, which can set policies for the use of land detailing the expectations of the community and the quality and type of development sought. A Neighbourhood Plan must comply with a higher-level planning policy at district, national and European level and must be based on evidence. Following community consultation, it will be examined by an independent examiner and must be approved by residents at a local referendum. The made or adopted plan will become part of the development plan for the local area and will be used in determining planning applications and appeals.
A Neighbourhood Plan cannot be used to stop development. There is a requirement for new homes nationally and every Neighbourhood Plan must plan for new growth.
West Bergholt Parish Council resolved to prepare a plan so that the community could work together to shape the future of the village and have a say about where new homes should go and what they should look like, how the local economy should be supported, how the countryside and open spaces of the village should be protected and how local facilities and infrastructure could be improved.
The Parish Council, although the sponsoring body for the Neighbourhood Plan, recognised that the wider community had to play a major role in producing the plan and so agreed that a Steering Group made up of Parish Council representatives and people from the community be set up to write the plan and consult upon it.
5.2 The purpose of a Neighbourhood Plan
A Neighbourhood Plan has a number of functions. In a strict planning sense, it relates to the use and development of land and, in this sense, its primary purpose is to help in deciding future land allocations for a variety of uses, notably, but not exclusively, housing and subsequently planning applications in the Plan Area. However, it is also an opportunity to cover in a holistic sense a great deal more. Communities have manifold needs and a Neighbourhood Plan allows these needs to be set out in a way that the community can plan for priorities that it feels need addressing, everything in fact from sport to transport! Thus, the Neighbourhood Plan for West Bergholt will be a successor to the current Parish Plan and will contain separately identified aspirations and ideas that go beyond the strict planning and development remit of the Neighbourhood Plan. These are called the Community Ambitions.
West Bergholt as a community resides in a locality which has a common cultural and historical heritage, shares common characteristics and interests and perceives itself distinct in many respects from the larger community of Colchester. The community's aspirations are to maintain and enhance its community feel and environment, its housing and businesses and the safety of the community, setting these out as Community Aspirations.
Localism provides the opportunity for local decisions to be made by local people. As long as it can be demonstrated that the Neighbourhood Plan is inclusive and deals with potential and planned growth, then there is no reason why it would not be agreeable to the community when submitted for referendum or by Colchester Borough Council, which must approve the plan.
The purpose of this document is therefore to:
- Set out a framework to guide residents, local authorities and developers on how the community wishes to manage and control future development in the Plan Area over the next 15 years, along with its facilities, services and environment;
- Record the historical and existing status and nature of the community and its environment;
- Establish an Action Plan that provides the community with a prioritised plan to improve its facilities, services and environment on a voluntary and assisted basis.
The Neighbourhood Plan therefore:
- Identifies the main community issues and objectives for West Bergholt as a whole;
- Makes proposals for the development and use of land and allocates land for specific purposes;
- Sets out the community's policies for the management of development;
- Provides an Action Plan that schedules a series of desired projects arising from the communities' vision for sustainable growth in their Neighbourhood Area;
- Documents the mechanisms for monitoring and the timescales for delivering the plan and its proposals.
5.2.1 The Neighbourhood Plan Period
The West Bergholt Neighbourhood Plan will be for the period from 2018 to 2033.
5.2.2 The Plan Area
Following an application to Colchester Borough Council to designate the parish of West Bergholt as a Neighbourhood Plan area, a statutory consultation was held in June 2013. No objections were forthcoming and the plan was confirmed and is shown adjacent:
Neighbourhood Plan Area