Neighbourhood Plan Delay

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neighbourhood plan logo

It is now just over two years since a determined and dedicated group of local people, under the auspices of the Parish Council, formed a Steering Group to create the Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP). This innovative piece of planning legislation encourages local communities to help determine future land use in their area in a way that reflects local wishes. Once accepted by the community in a referendum, the NDP becomes part of the formal planning process and must be considered by the statutory Authority (CW&C) when planning decisions are taken.

The amount of work needed to create such a plan is huge. As it is intended to be a formal part of the planning process it must be evidence-based and to fit into the Local Plan for the wider area. It has to influence, manage and direct new development, it cannot refuse new development. It is, in effect, a professional planning document created by amateurs which is then examined and challenged by planning experts before it can be approved.

No one must underestimate how much work the Steering Group has done. They have had to look at such diverse topics as utilities, health provision, transport and the environment. When their first draft was presented to the Parish Council in December 2016 it was criticised for lacking solid evidence to back some of the proposals, creating more work for the Steering Group. To add to their difficulties, CW&C announced a list of potential traveller's sites during this time, with two inside the NDP area.

Having revised the draft the steering Group were anxious to ensure that the document they would present for inspection was of a high standard in terms of its language and its references to existing planning legislation. It looked to for help to a planning consultant employed by Cheshire Community Action, who staff had a lot of experience in helping similar neighbourhood groups. Unfortunately, for reasons that are unclear, the consultant's report has been delayed time and time again.

At the Parish Council meeting on Monday (Aug21st) it was agreed that, if no satisfactory answer was forthcoming from the consultant within a couple of weeks, then the contract would be terminated and new advice sought. The Parish Council and the Steering Group are both most anxious that the NDP moves forward now as quickly as possible.

The importance of the Plan was stressed by the Tarvin Residents Group who attended the Parish Council meeting. In a statement read out in the Open Forum they said

"During our extensive research into the valid reasons for objection to the (Traveller's) site it has become apparent, that in certain circumstance — a completed NDP was viewed as a major consideration in the planning process.
Whist we acknowledge that the land along Tarporley Road cannot be made permanently safe from any form of development.............. TRG (Tarvin Residents Group) are ready and willing to lend it's full support and resources in any way it can to contribute to, and accelerate the completion of, a robust and properly worded NDP"

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