Neighbourhood Plan Report January 2020

Maz and I had a meeting yesterday with Alan Munn (SNC Planning) in Towcester. We talked through the remaining issues that we are working on before we submit the Plan to them in the next month or so. These are the two aspects we are working on:

Non-designated Heritage Assets. We produced a list of non-listed buildings a while ago, but SNC Heritage officer, Dr Garry Campion, recommended that we beef up the case for them based on Historic England criteria. I have written to three people, who may have the kind of knowledge we lack, to meet with us. I’ve sent them the HE criteria and the pro forma we have produced in the hope that we will be able to complete the task when we meet.

The people I’ve contacted are Liz Friendship-Taylor, Maureen, and Jo Wilde.

Green spaces and wildlife corridors. This is often a contentious area, so we have been working with Michael (our consultant) to define an hierarchy of areas that will satisfy SNC and, ultimately, the examiner. At the meeting we talked through what we needed to do in order to ‘justify’ the areas and corridors we have included in the Plan. We should be able to complete this in the near future.

All in all, we hope to complete the above tasks within the next month. Michael is now working with the Mapping Officer and SNC to complete that aspect of the Plan, especially with regard to the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) which is otherwise complete.

So, the frustration of the prolonged Christmas + New Year break is hopeful behind us. We just need a push now to get to the next stage. Once we have sent the Plan to SNC formally, they will send it out their various departments for comment and possible amendment. That will take usually six weeks. Once the Plan has been revised, SNC will appoint an examiner who will in turn make comments and return it to SNC. After any/all amendments have been done and the Plan has been approved, it will go the final stage, the Referendum. For the Plan to be made, we just need more than 50% of those who respond to vote YES. Judging by the feedback from our consultation events, this should not present a problem.

The future, after the Plan is in place, is never going to be certain. Obviously Local Government Reorganisation will have an impact, though the Plan would have legal status unless overridden by subsequent higher level decisions – e.g. the government decides to allow developers to build wherever they like… but that would be a big vote loser for the government in rural areas! Other than that kind of eventuality, we will be significantly better placed than we would be without a Plan.

Roy Hawkesford

Chair Neighbourhood Plan Committee

23rd January 2020