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Wootton and St Helen Without Parish Council Joint Neighbourhood Plan

Public Meeting January 17th 2017 – Wootton and Dry Sandford Community Centre

Wootton and St Helen Without Parish Council have agreed, in principle, to proceed with a Joint Neighbourhood Plan covering the two parishes. A Public Meeting was held on 17th January and was very well attended. Presentations were given by the Vale of White Horse District Council and Community First Oxfordshire and residents responded with a lively session of questions and answers. Developing a Neighbourhood Plan is an exercise involving the whole community and it is vital that volunteers come forward to offer their time and skills to the process. We are grateful to the volunteers that have come forward already and we shall be in touch with them shortly. If you would like to help with developing the Plan please contact the Wootton Parish Clerk – telephone 01865 73941 or e-mail: g.edmondsbrown@btinternet.com , Residents of St Helen Without Parish should contact Anna Clarke Tel 01865 321555, E-mail: clerkshwpc@gmail.com.

Wootton and St Helen Without Parish Councils have decided, in principle, that it would be in the interests of the two communities to develop a joint Neighbourhood Plan.

What is a Neighbourhood Plan?

A Neighbourhood Plan is, under the Localism Act, part of the statutory planning process. It aims to allow communities to have a significant role in shaping the development of growth in their local area.

Why would it benefit our two parishes?

Whilst a Plan cannot prevent a housing allocation for either parish, it can lay down some of the rules under which development takes place. This includes where new houses should be sited, the type of development which best fits in with the community and stipulating the infrastructure necessary to support the development that takes place. In addition, a parish receives a larger percentage of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) if it has a Neighbourhood Plan, providing additional financial resources for use in the parish. The consultation on the Vale of White Horse Local Plan Part 2 will be published in February and we can expect both parishes will be affected. Furthermore, indications are that the direction of travel in development pursued by central and local government would suggest that communities without a Neighbourhood Plan could be at a significant disadvantage compared with communities that have one and may also be more vulnerable to being subjected to unwanted development.

Community involvement in the preparation of the Plan

Developing a Plan does involve a sustained effort by the community over at least a year. The two Parish Councils do not have the manpower and administrative resources to develop the Plan on their own. It is essential, therefore, that volunteers from both communities step forward to get involved. These should not only include local residents with professional expertise, but also people who are prepared to help with areas such as researching information, minute taking and the delivery of community survey questionnaires within the two parishes.

Next steps

Once the final decision to have a Plan is agreed a Steering Committee would be set up of members of the community and representatives of the two parishes. The Steering Committee would oversee a consultation with the community to find out residents’ priorities. A consultant would probably be appointed to advise the Committee. A proposal would be put to the District Council identifying the geographical area covered by the Plan and, once this is approved, drafting the Plan would begin. It is hoped that other members of the two communities would be willing to take on particular tasks or look at specific areas such as traffic or transport. Once the Plan has been completed it would go to the Vale of White Horse District Council for its agreement before being the subject of a referendum of all residents in the two communities.