Referendum Success! We ‘MADE’ it!
An open forum meeting was held in the Wellesbourne Village Hall in early February 2014 where the incentive for producing a neighbourhood plan was explained to be that it would have “statutory status” and 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 was set up to develop the neighbourhood plan with the initial task of establishing what needed 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 was to ensure full engagement with residents, organisations, businesses and land owners within our area so that all views were taken into account and, as far as possible, adequately represented.
First of all, why did we select the name “Walton and Wellesbourne 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 forthcoming 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 was originally envisaged to take about three years to complete but it now looks like this will be slightly over four years. We know that seems a long time and we have been doing 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 verified by local, district and central government planning organisations before gaining acceptance.
So let’s briefly explain the steps have made up the journey so far and what extra steps are still needed.
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 (Street 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:
Amend report to reflect feedback from Parish Council/others
Organise publicity for the launch of a 6 week consultation on the proposed policies
Notify all residents of the Parish, plus adjacent parishes and local businesses and developers
Notify Stratford District Council, and Statutory Organisations (Natural England, Historic England, EA)
June to December 2016:
Hold 6 week consultation including ‘drop-
Review feedback from consultation and propose amendments to Parish Council
Update report based on Parish Council recommendations
Seek endorsement of Statutory Organisations (Natural England, Historic England, EA)
January to June 2017:
Undertake additional work to substantiate extent of flooding within Wellesbourne
Obtain views of a consultant as to whether a full Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) is required
Receive feedback from consultant that their ‘Screening report’ concludes that no full SEA is needed
Prepare a report on the consultation process that has been undertaken
Prepare a report that demonstrates the ‘basic conditions’ required by the NDP have been followed
Obtain ‘sign off’ by the Parish Council on the Submission report version of the proposed policies
July to December 2017:
Submit the Submission Report and associated Consultation and Basic Conditions reports to SDC
SDC arranges 6 week District-
Inspector who will undertake the formal review of the NDP polices is confirmed by SDC
Comments received from the consultation are sent along with the main reports for the Inspector
January to June 2018:
Feedback received from Inspector
Amendments made to report to accommodate guidance from Inspector
Inspector gave approval for revised version of the Submission report
Parish Council and District Council agreed that the NDP should proceed to Referendum
August to October 2018:
Date of 11th October agreed with District Council for Referendum.
Publicity (leaflets, posters, banners) prepared and spread throughout the Parish, including two leaflet deliveries to all homes).
Referendum held at which all registered electorate in the Parish were able to vote.
Plan was “Made” (approved) with a vote in favour of 93.3%, which greatly exceeded the required 50%, on a turnout of 1721 people which represents 34.1% of the eligible voting population.
The Plan will become fully adopted following acceptance at an District Cabinet Meeting on 5th November and final endorsement at a Full Council Meeting on 17th December. The Plan will then become an integral part of District Local Plan.