Neighbourhood Plan

This page contains reports to the Parish Council from the Neighbourhood Plan Working Goup.

Piddle Valley Neighbourhood Plan 04/12/2012

A Working Group was convened in February 2012 to determine whether the Piddle Valley should undertake a Neighbourhood Plan. The work of the Group led to a presentation at Piddle Valley First School on 13 October 2013 which outlined the process involved. After the presentation residents were invited to complete a voting slip on whether or not it should proceed with a Neighbourhood Plan. 113 slips were returned with 81 showing in favour and 31 against. The number voting was approximately 11% of the 998 on the electoral roll.

The Neighbourhood Plan has been promoted as a means of enabling local communities to influence the planning system in providing a more democratic, effective and quicker procedure than exists at present. It could:

1. Promote more development than is set out in the Local Plan

2. Suggest where development or change might take place

3. Decide on development boundaries

4. Influence the design of new buildings

5. Identify and protect important green spaces.

6. Promote renewable energy projects

Perhaps erroneously, the voting slips did not invite those in favour to state their reasons for wanting to proceed, but it did ask those against to state their views.

Points raised by the minority voting against proceeding included the following:

1. Several thought that the current planning structure was satisfactory and did not need changing.

2. Several believed that decisions should be made by qualified planners who were more remote and did not have vested interests.

3. There was scepticism that village projects in the past had not really achieved anything and that this would be no different.

4. Several expressed concerns that the process could lead to social disharmony and ill-feeling between neighbours and communities.

5. There was concern that a Neighbourhood Plan would propose a lot of new building, which was strongly opposed.

6. It was felt that moving planning and development decisions to a more local level could lead to conflicts of interest and make it open to corruption.

7. The Neighbourhood Planning process would need to involve a wide range of local people, and if they were not forthcoming, this could lead to the wrong decisions being made.

Certain aspects of the process described by Central Government were initially very vague and have only become clearer quite recently. The Working Group is also very conscious that the concept of the Neighbourhood Plan is in many ways a difficult one to communicate and that residents may have misinterpreted some of the information which they have been given. For example, it may be useful to clarify two issues that were raised:

1. In future, planning applications will continue to be submitted as at present and decisions will still be made by West Dorset District Council, but the District Council would be obliged to consider and be guided by the contents of a local Neighbourhood Plan. It is therefore vital that the Neighbourhood Plan represents the views of the whole community. It is in the drawing up of the content of the Neighbourhood Plan that vested interests could come to the fore and conflicts of interest might arise.

2. A decision to proceed with a Neighbourhood Plan does not give the green light to widespread new building in the Valley. The strategic factors affecting planning laid down by West Dorset District Council will remain in place and the natural limitations such as topography will obviously apply, but a Neighbourhood Plan could enable some development, largely within existing settlements, which is currently not possible under the Local Plan. It could also restrict any further development if that is the local wish.

The Working Group has come to recognise the size and complexity of the task. Unsurprisingly, there have been differences of opinion within the Group on how to proceed and the composition of the Working Group will be changing.

In light of the information received at the presentation on 13 October and from the voting slips, the Working Group has recommended that an Open Evening be held in the Piddle Valley First School on 24 January at 7.30 pm to discuss the way forward. It is hoped that as many people as possible will attend, and particularly those who have expressed a wish to be involved, if it is decided to proceed.

Piddle Valley Neighbourhood Planning Working Group

The Working Group consisted of the following co-opted members: Richard Drewe (Chair), John Cox (Parish Council Chair), Peter Chance, John Browing, Dot Browning, Jane Willitts (PC), Dave Saxby (PC), Terry Cowley (PC), Sue Hennesy and Jacqui Cuff (District Councillor). Sally Lloyd Jacob acts as the Link Officer with West Dorset District Council.