Neigbourhood Plan: Introduction & Vision
A few years back, Bentworth Parish Council embarked on the process of developing a Neighbourhood Plan for the parish. A Steering Committee was established and consultants appointed to assist and advise. Three public meetings were held, in October 2015, December 2016 and November 2017 to brief parishioners on what is involved. There were also regular updates in “The Villager”.
This work has been on hold since 2019 following advice that the East Hants local area plan was being revised. We are currently reviewing the status of this and will be taking a decision on whether to reinstate the work.
What is a Neighbourhood Plan?
A Neighbourhood Plan is a relatively new way for local people to influence the planning and development of the area in which they live and work. It lasts for 15 years and should:
- Develop a shared vision for a village or town
- Advise where new homes, shops, offices and other development should be built
- Influence how much housing should be built, and of what type
- Identify and protect important local green spaces or other treasured assets.
Once approved, our plan will have some force in setting out what development is acceptable in our parish and for what reasons. Developers and local authority planners will have to take notice of it. Without a Neighbourhood Plan, we will have little control over any development that takes place.
Our Neighbourhood Plan must comply with East Hampshire District Council’s (EHDC) Local Plan and the government’s wider policy of sustainable development. This means that it is inevitable that some new housing will have to be built in Bentworth in the future. We can influence development, not stop it altogether.
The Local Plan currently envisages that about twelve dwellings be constructed on a site at the corner of Church Street and Ashley Road (1.2 hectares). Since the Local Plan was published, five additional sites have been approved by EHDC. But this does not mean that all six sites will be developed.
The Neighbourhood Plan should identify a Vision, Objectives and Policies for the parish and help ensure that future development is suitable for the parish.
What Progress Has Been Made?
In October 2016, the Steering Committee sent out a Questionnaire, the aim of which was to capture the initial views of parishioners. The response was excellent and we used the results and the views expressed at the second Public Meeting to prepare a draft Vision, Objectives and Objectives for the Neighbourhood Plan. This draft has since been further refined after further feedback from parishioners.
We have also developed a set of draft Community Aspirations, which are not formally part of the Neighbourhood Plan, but which are intended to guide the Parish Council on the aspirations of parishioners as revealed in the process.
At the well-attended Public Meeting on 28th November 2017, the Steering Committee presented the draft Vision, Objectives, Policies and Community Aspirations and also provided details of the six sites now potentially available for development. These details included assessments by EHDC and our planning consultants on the suitability and sustainability of the sites.
At this meeting, the Steering Committee invited parishioners to offer comments on the draft Vision, Objectives, Policies and Community Aspirations. We also invited parishioners to tell us whether we should include a policy to require “affordable housing” in Bentworth and which of the sites they would prefer.
164 Expressions of Preference forms were handed in following the meeting, a further welcome indication of community engagement. We have now had a chance to analyse these forms. They give the following picture:
- 86% in favour of one site
- 95% in favour of affordable housing
- first preferences for individual sites as follows:
34% for site BTW001 (corner of Church Street and Ashley Road)
40% for site BTW002 (Top Field, Glebe Fields)
18% for site BTW003 (Station Road)
5% for site BTW004 (Drury Lane)
0% for site BTW005 (Park Lodge, Holt End)
2% for site BTW006a (Homestead, New Copse)
We were thus presented with a pretty clear sense of what parishioners would like to see: a single site, with affordable housing and development of either BTW001 or BTW002. We are therefore looking more closely at these two sites and further refining our Vision, Objectives, Policies and Community Aspirations to take account of comments from parishioners, EHDC and our consultants. A revised draft is being published separately on this website.
What Happens Next?
We are doing further work in preparing a draft Neighbourhood Plan, which will also be subject to consultation. Once this is complete, the “submission version” of the Neighbourhood Plan will be handed over to EHDC.
EHDC will appoint an independent Examiner to examine the Plan and supporting documents as well as the consultation responses to check that the Plan fulfils the legal conditions for a Neighbourhood Plan and that “due process” had been followed.
If the Examiner is satisfied that we have followed the correct process, that our plan meets the five “Basic Conditions”, and that our evidence is sufficient to support our policies, he/she will allow the Plan to proceed to a referendum.
The District Council will then arrange for a local referendum in the parish. Everyone in the parish who is registered on the electoral roll will be entitled to vote YES or NO to the whole Plan. For the Plan to come into force, a majority (ie over 50%) of people who vote need to vote “Yes”.
How to get further information?
For further background, you will be able to find the following materials elsewhere on this website:
- Parish Council Charter for Neighbourhood Plan
• Map and plans for the sites under consideration
• EHDC Local Plan allocation for Bentworth
• Map showing Settlement Policy Boundary
• Minutes of all Steering Committee meetings and of previous Public Meetings
• “Constraints Map” showing listed buildings, historic parks and gardens, etc
• Questionnaire and analysis of results
• Map showing proposed Protected Green Spaces
• Draft Vision, Objectives, Policies and Community Aspirations
• EHDC pro forma for each of the sites
• Frequently Asked Questions
• Sustainability Assessment of all the sites by Navigus planning consultants
• Bentworth Parish Plan 2008
If you have questions about the process, you can send us an email at email@example.com. Alternatively, you can contact any member of the Parish Council or the Neighbourhood Plan team. For anyone who does not have access to a computer and/or would like hard copies of the background materials, please contact Colin Brooks.
Feedback can be provided by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Neighbourhood Plan Steering Committee
[Please note that this message is not posted on behalf of Bentworth Parish Council and does not necessarily reflect the Parish Council’s policy]