At the time of writing the DCLG (Department for Communities & Local Government) reports that there are over 800 communities across the country (55% of Local Authorities) already involved in writing Neighbourhood Plans. Although this is a relatively new planning tool, there are many reasons why communities such as ours should get involved with preparing Neighbourhood Plans. It seems to us that it is a more constructive way of dealing with change, influencing development in a proactive and not reactive way. It is a more democratic approach, subject to a local referendum. Moreover, parishes with a Neighbourhood Plan will receive 25% of any Community Infrastructure Levy arising from developments in their area, compared to parishes without a Neighbourhood Plan who will receive 15%.
As residents of Oxspring we accept that there is a need for new homes in the Parish, but rather than having developments imposed on the Parish it would be preferable to have a say in how and where new developments can succeed. The Neighbourhood Plan, through the Parish Council, is to be created and owned by Oxspring residents. Unlike other Local Plans or statutory planning instruments, we all have the opportunity to get involved, to shape the future of the area we live in and ultimately we will all have the opportunity to vote for the Plan at a Referendum.
Our Plan should influence not just the type, the number and where new development should go. The Plan can also include proposals for:
- how we might create economic growth in the Parish;
- how we may improve or create new facilities in the Parish;
- how we may provide sustainable energy for all residents; and
- how we will preserve and enhance the Parish’s unique rural environment and setting.