What is a Neighbourhood Plan?
A neighbourhood plan is a new sort of planning document that communities can put together to set out how they would like their town, parish or village to develop over the next 15 to 20 years or so. It will set out policies relating to how land is used and developed, rather like the Central Bedfordshire Council’s (CBC) Core Strategy but at a much more local level.
It will ultimately set the criteria against which any new planning applications will be judged, hence it has to undergo a number of formal processes to ensure it is robust and well-evidenced. This includes an independent examination and a public referendum.
If successful, the plan will be adopted by CBC as part of its Local Plan and Arlesey will have set out its detailed policies for future development in the parish.
Why do we need a Neighbourhood Plan for Arlesey?
The plan can give us a much greater say on how we want Arlesey to be for future generations: including how new housing is integrated, what it should look like, which land should be set aside for employment, what green spaces should be protected or where new ones should go. Clearly the Arlesey Cross strategic site has been identified for the town and we will input into the master-planning exercise in parallel to the neighbourhood plan.
Can we use the plan to stop further housing development in Arlesey?
Neighbourhood planning is not about stopping development, rather shaping it. One of the regulations for neighbourhood planning is that it must comply with higher plans including the Core Strategy. We cannot for example stop the Arlesey Cross development, but we can have a say in the detail of what it might look like in practice.
How long will it take to write the plan?
It’s not a quick process – the plan is going to last 15 to 20 years so we need to get it right. As the plan is now in consultation, we hope to be able to go to referendum in early 2017.
What area does our neighbourhood plan cover?
Our plan will cover the whole of Arlesey parish. The Town Council submitted a neighbourhood plan boundary application to the CBC which went out to public consultation for six weeks and was approved on 16th October 2014.
What will our neighbourhood plan cover?
The full draft plan is now available to view here and a summary of the plan is available on the Draft Plan Summary page. The plan has been developed following extensive consultation with the residents and local groups.
A benefit of having the plan is that it might enable the Town Council to receive developer funds (known as Community Infrastructure Levy), which could then be spent on providing new facilities for the community. Hence we need to think about what facilities we might need or want in Arlesey.
Who is leading the development of our neighbourhood plan?
The neighbourhood plan has to be formally led by Arlesey Town Council however a steering group comprising both members of the public and local councillors has been established. The members of the Steering Group are listed on the Contacts page.
How much will it cost to develop the neighbourhood plan?
The cost of plans varies widely depending on the size of the population, the complexity of the plan and any additional technical studies that might be required. Arlesey has applied for government funding that is dedicated to communities developing neighbourhood plans.
Who else has written a neighbourhood plan?
Hundreds of communities across the whole country are in the process of developing neighbourhood plans for their towns and villages. About 35 of these have successfully passed the referendum and become a formal part of the Local Plan for those areas. To have a look at plans which have got to the stage of being submitted to examination, visit www.pinterest.com.
Do you have external support to assist on developing the plan?
Yes, we have contracted Navigus Planning – Chris Bowden, working with Alison Eardley and Liz Bourne – to assist us who are experts in neighbourhood planning. They are currently providing full support to around twenty neighbourhood plans for parish councils and support on specific aspects of the plan development to a further four.
To date, two of their plans have passed referendum and one plan has been examined and recommended to proceed to referendum (with a further plan used as a Neighbourhood Plan ‘Light’ by its local planning authority but not having been subject to an examination).
In addition we have support from the Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity who are currently putting together a Housing Needs Survey for Arlesey which will illustrate the level and type of housing needed currently in the parish.