What is a Neighbourhood Plan?
The 2011 Localism Act introduced new powers for local communities to produce Neighbourhood Plans, which can be used to guide and shape future development in an area. Once adopted, a Neighbourhood Plan forms part of the statutory Development Plan for the area, and it is used in the determination of planning applications alongside the Braintree District Local Plan.
Neighbourhood Plans must be subject to public consultation, examination, and local referendum prior to adoption, and policies contained within a Neighbourhood Plan should be supported by evidence based documents and sustainability appraisals as necessary. Neighbourhood Plans must meet the overall aims and objectives of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), particularly in relation to supporting and promoting sustainable development.
Neighbourhood Plans give communities direct power to guide and shape future development. Where a Neighbourhood Plan is aligned with the strategic needs and priorities of the wider local area, neighbourhood planning can provide a powerful set of tools for local people to ensure that they get the right types of future development for their community.
Where are we currently with the Neighbourhood Plan for Earls Colne?
The Neighbourhood Plan project was initiated by the Parish Council in 2019. Although the Covid pandemic has obviously slowed down activities and made the work of the volunteers more difficult, good progress has already been made. The Steering Group, made up of Parish Councillors and local residents, has been working to compile the necessary evidence base to support the aims of the plan.
Some of the most significant aspects of the Neighbourhood Plan which have now been completed include:
Creation of the Mission Statement
Detailed Village Profile
Housing Needs Assessment
Open days to engage with local residents
Development of prime objectives covering future housing, recreation, the village economy, community facilities, infrastructure and environment.
Village centre car parking study
Housing Needs Survey
Landscape Character Assessment
Design Guide for future developments (currently being finalised)
For the Housing Needs Survey, which was conducted earlier this year, a questionnaire was sent out to all households in the village. Completed questionnaires were returned by 32% of residents. This exercise has provided invaluable information regarding the housing needs of local residents and will be used to develop housing policies for inclusion in our Neighbourhood Plan. This should allow us to influence the types of new housing built in the future in order to better meet the needs of local people.
Where do we go from here?
It is hoped that by the end of this year the first draft of the full Neighbourhood Plan will be completed allowing further discussion with residents to ensure that we have captured the most important issues you have made us aware of and we have developed the right policies to address them
Want to know more about the Plan?
Extensive details of the data collected for the plan are already accessible in this section of the Parish Council Website