The Final Hurdle
In March 2013 the Parish Council launched the Neighbourhood Plan project; we cleared the final hurdle on Wednesday night. Wednesday saw Colchester Borough Council approve the plan to make it official policy. We reached the “home straight” on 19th September when 862 electors gave a resounding thumbs up to the final plan; 59 voted against it and 1 voted to Stop Brexit! The record 41% turnout (local plan referendums turnouts are normally around 30%), was a testament in itself to the commitment of the village to this project.
Looking back through the news archives on this website there are dozens of articles on numerous events and milestones. These have included:
- consultation exercises:
- drop-in sessions,
- village fete displays, and
- review by Planning Inspectorate.
Wednesday night saw the final hurdle cleared in style. Chris Stevenson, Chair of the Parish Council, addressed Colchester Borough Councillors at their full council meeting:
Good evening Mr Mayor, Cllrs and anyone here from West Bergholt.
Thank you for the opportunity to address this item on the WB NP which I hope you will be able to endorse as per the recommendation in front of you.
I speak as Chairman of WBPC, the Chair of the NP Steering Group and on behalf of the 862 people who voted in favour of the plan at referendum a turn out of over 40%.
The NP has been put together carefully by the community for a number of years now. We have been careful to keep in step with your own Local Plan preparations, and in doing so have developed a holistic and realistic plan which will deliver housing in the village in a way which we believe conforms to sustainability principles.
Although perhaps many in the audience will think this is all about housing numbers, the WB Neighbourhood Plan (which is contained in the appendix to your report) covers a number of other areas of interest in the parish including village society and community matters, transport, sport, employment and many other topics.
We would like to acknowledge and thank District Members who have supported the plan including Lewis Barber, Dennis Willets and Brian Jarvis and especially your planning officers for their support particularly Shelley Blackerby, Sandra Scott, Karen Syrett and Rachel Forkin for their help and support with the planning hoops we have had to work through. Indeed the NP even in draft form has been a material consideration in recent appeals all of which have resulted in inappropriate housing proposals being overturned.
We very much see the plan as a joined up approach, and community focussed and commend it to you. I am sure it will be one of many which come before you showing the successful partnership which can create the right conditions for sustainable plans at the parish or neighbourhood level.
The Recommendation & Decision
The Assistant Director of Policy & Corporate for CBC, Shelley Blackaby, reported on our plan, her recommendation, listed in the meeting agenda, was:
The Council is asked to make (adopt) the West Bergholt Neighbourhood Plan following its approval at referendum.
Reasons for Recommendation
- To ensure the Council’s planning policies provide a robust basis for decisions on future planning applications in the Borough.
- The latest version of Planning Practice Guidance provides that if the majority of those who vote in a referendum are in favour of the neighbourhood plan then the neighbourhood plan must be ‘made’ by the local planning authority within 8 weeks of the referendum.
The Mayor and the Full Council endorsed the Plan which has now passed into CBC’s official planning guidance. Our Local Councillors were very supportive; they also addressed the Council as did Cllr Julie Young who proposed the vote to support the Plan.
Final Thanks to YOU
Chris also wants to extend his gratitude to all those, including many behind the scenes, who helped deliver this project.