Category Archives: Reports to Parish Council

Chairman’s Report to the Parish Council – October 2019

Hackleton Neighbourhood Development Plan

Steering Group Chairman’s Report

The first session of the Informal Consultation on the Draft Neighbourhood Plan took place on Saturday, 5th October, 10.00 until 4.00, in the Annexe of the Village Hall. More than 60 people attended, looked at the presentation and discussed the content with members of the steering group.

Obviously, much of the attention was focussed on our policies and the choice of Oak Way as our preferred site. As far as I’m aware, there were no negative comments, and there was general surprise at the detail and range of the Plan – and appreciation of the amount of work that had gone into it. A summary of the written comments will follow shortly.

The second public session will take place on the 16th at 6.30, following which the steering group will make amendments and our consultant will produce the next Draft for formal consultation, under Regulation 14 of the Neighbourhood Planning Regulations. This will take about six weeks and may result in further amendments being made and the production of another Draft which will be submitted to SNC, under Regulation 16.

Following that, the Plan will subject to an independent examination by a jointly appointed Examiner, to consider if the Plan meets the basic conditions. This will lead to further amendments, following which the Plan will be the subject of a Referendum. A straight majority vote (50% of turnout +1) of those on the Electoral Register will be required before SNC “make” the Plan. It will then be used to help determine planning decisions in our neighbourhood are, alongside SNC and National Planning Polices.

From that point on, the Parish Council will take ownership of the Plan and act accordingly. It may be that a presentation is made to the Council by the steering group about how the Plan should inform their decision-making.

It will be clear from the timeline outlined above that the process will take a few months yet to complete, though the Plan will have some weight once formal consultation begins. The steering group will continue its work until the Plan is finally made.

The Council may wish to call upon the services of the steering group when the Plan is due for review, which is currently after three years. The Clerk will keep all associated documents in the meantime.

Roy Hawkesford

6th October 2019.

Chairman’s Report to Parish Council – September 2019

This last month has seen a huge leap forward in the development of the Neighbourhood Plan. The Steering Group and our consultant, Michael Wellock, have been working hard to produce successive draft plans to include everything we wanted to include and to refine the content taking on board his comments and advice.

As a result, and following last night’s Steering Group meeting, we will be sending our remaining amendments to Michael today, which will result, hopefully, in the following timetable.

16th September   All of our amendments and comments to be sent to Michael.

23rd September   Michael send his final draft to us.

27th September  The Steering Group signs off the final draft / sends any final comments.

30th September  Draft Plan posted on our websites inviting comments.

5th October         Launch event at the Village Hall (Annexe, if available)

16th October       Second Launch Event, in the evening.

28th October       Close of Consultation.

During this time Michael will finalise and consult on the Strategic Environmental Assessment.

November          Publish first formal consultation draft – Regulation 14 Plan.

As a result of the above process the Draft Plan would be revised as required. It will go to SNC for formal consultation, for about six weeks, following which it will go to Examination and subsequently to a Referendum. Assuming the Plan receives more than 50% approval, it will be ‘made’.

So, there is still a way to go, but it will be clear that most of our work has been done – apart from making changes, etc, as necessary, as it goes through the stages. Nevertheless, the Steering Group members are able to breathe a temporary sigh of relief. We now feel happy with the way the Plan reads… With all the supporting evidence and paragraphs, the document will run to about 100 pages!

Chairman’s Report to Parish Council July 2019

Neighbourhood Plan – Update, July 2019

Work on the Neighbourhood Plan (NP) has been progressing at a more rapid pace recently, with the steering group members working to specific targets set by consultant, Michael Wellock. Much of this work is very detailed, gathering and evaluating information and photographs to inform Policies and to provide evidence for the appendices. Meanwhile the consultant is busy turning our work into the substance of the Plan itself.

An example of the work that the steering group has been undertaking is in the assessment of every property in the three villages – some 720 in all – in terms of history, architecture, materials, environment, landscape features; also the types of housing in each village, the way the villages have evolved and what kind of features and characteristics should inform a Policy on Design. This is not the simplest of tasks, as our villages are not typical of bijou or boutique single style villages. Our villages have evolved in a functional way, with housing taking place in the form of small housing estates, council housing as well as infill and small clusters of generically similar buildings. In short, we have many styles – some fine Grade II listed buildings and some handsome modern buildings.

Our analysis has revealed many differences – as well as similarities – between the villages, and these have been captured in maps, charts and photographic evidence. This has been one aspect of our work, but a significant one, in that our derived polices on Design will determine the nature of any future developments in the parish.

We have also being doing research into environmental aspects of the parish, including biodiversity, archaeology, important aspects of landscape, green spaces, village separation, wildlife and features such as ridge-and-furrow fields – as well as significant non-listed buildings and features.

You may be wondering why no mention has been made of Preston Deanery and Wootton St George’s Fields. This is because Preston Deanery is described as a ‘hamlet’ and lies in ‘open countryside’; as such it is protected by South Northants Council Local Plan Part 2 policies. Wootton St George’s Fields, while part of Hackleton Parish, comes under the Northampton Related Development Area (NRDA) and is not included in our Plan. (This situation will change, of course, when SNC and Northampton Borough Council become a Unitary Council, with Daventry District Council.)

I would like to point out that the steering group – and the Parish Council as a whole – is very much committed to the well being of all people in the parish, and the Plan will reflect this. We hope that the delivery of the new Parish Mag to every household in the parish is a demonstration of that commitment.

We hope to produce a draft plan for consultation in the near future, more than three years after the decision to embark on the Plan.

Roy Hawkesford

Hackleton Parish Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group

Neighbourhood Plan Report April 2019

CHAIRMAN’S REPORT – Neighbourhood Plan

APRIL 2019

Following a productive meeting with Michael Wellock, our consultant, things have started to move towards the next stage. Stage 2 has lasted a long time, but we were told at the outset that that would be the case. Fortunately, we have a strong core of Steering Group members who are working hard to produce the evidence for policies that will form the basis of the Draft Plan.

We have been gathering evidence on the housing types in each village, describing and taking photographs of each style. Work has also been done to plot biodiversity and we are anticipating an archaeology report very soon. The intention is to meet a timeline laid down by our consultant, the first stage of which is to furnish him with our work so that he can use it to produce the next Draft by mid-May.

Hopefully then, by the end of May, this Draft Plan will go forward for informal consultation for a period of three weeks.  The purpose of this is to get feedback from all appropriate organisations, following which – by the end of June – the Plan will be revised. Then, in July/August, the Plan will submitted for formal Regulation 14 consultation, which will take a minimum of six weeks. Finally, the Plan will be submitted to SNC and the (public) referendum will take place.

That is, of course, if everything goes to plan!  The steering group is meeting again on April 26th to review our work and to start feeding it through to our consultant. At the Draft Plan stage, the public will be able to see the draft and to comment on it. Regarding the allocation of sites, we present them with maps, the rationale and a summary of the pros and cons of each one, enabling the public to make informed comments. How we do this has yet to be arranged. (We trust that it will NOT resemble the Brexit process in any way! Though the final referendum will be a straight yes or no to the Plan, with 51% required for it to be ‘Made’)

Generally, the threat to any Plan comes from contentious housing proposals. Whatever we decide will be in keeping with the views expressed at our public event last June and the evidence of our external, advisory assessments; they will provide the rationale which we will present to the public.

Housing, though potentially – but not necessarily – contentious, is just one part of the final Plan. We hope to demonstrate to the community what a great parish they live in, one they can be proud of and continue to enjoy beyond the duration of the Plan.

Roy Hawkesford

March 2019

Neighbourhood Plan Report, February 2019.

During the last month, the Steering Group has had three meetings, and we have made arrangements to meet with Jacqueline Brooks, Ellie’s replacement at SNC, and with Michael Wellock, our consultant. We have received replies from the four landowners / agents we approached following the completion of the Sites Assessment. The Housing Needs Assessment has yet to be signed off, though the content is clear to us.

We have also started the business of writing Policies that we trust will fit the unique nature of our parish. This covers several areas, including housing, biodiversity, traffic, employment, buildings of interest, design characteristics and green spaces, while Roy and Liz Friendship-Taylor are preparing a report on archaeology. We intend to start gathering evidence for the Plan, walking the villages and taking photographs of housing types and anything that characterises the parish.

The next informal meeting will take place on March 1st, which Jacqueline Brooks (SNC) will attend. The next formal meeting will take place on March 4th, when Michael Wellock, our consultant, will be in attendance. It is hoped that, following these meetings, a new draft of the Plan will be prepared and we will have a clear direction for the work to be undertaken.

We hope to engage Hackleton School in a project to enhance the Plan by getting the children to make paintings of what the parish means to them. The intention is to include pictures in the Plan itself and the final referendum exhibition. The aim of the Neighbourhood Plan is, of course, to increase the wellbeing of the community and to help create a sustainable future for our villages. Children are the future, and we would like to involve them – and their families – in what we are doing.

Roy Hawkesford

February 14th 2019

Steering Group Chairman’s report to the Parish Council December 2018

This month’s report is relatively short. In fact – apart from work on biodiversity being carried out by Jo Willmer – the main thing to say is that by next month there will be quite a lot to report.

By end of December we should have the final versions of the Housing Needs Assessment and the Sites Assessment. These will form the basis of consultation with the owners or agents of the most suitable sites to ascertain availability, followed by consultation with the public to seek their views before we develop the Plan accordingly.

During themonth we have continued to provide information and consult with our consultant, Michael Wellock and with Ellie Gingell of SNC. The latter has scrutinised the drafts of the two Assessments and, between the three parties, we have sent amendments and comments to the people preparing the reports.

We have to bear in mind that the assessments are based on the period up to 2029. Projections of housing needs are even more difficult at this time owing to the problems caused by Brexit and the impending formation of the unitary councils. The situation regarding the houses in Wootton Fields/St Georges is still the white elephant in the room, but any projections at the current time will not take account of the NRDA. Assuming the merger of SNC, DDC and Northampton Borough goes ahead, there will no longer be a NRDA within SNC… Food for thought!

All we can do at the moment is develop our Plan in accordance with guidelines from the West Northants Joint Core Strategy (WNJCS), the SNC Local Plan and the updated National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). These provide the context of our emerging Plan.

At our next meeting, on Monday 10th December, the principal aims of the steering group will be to consider our action plan – who is going to do what and by when– and to agree the procedure on dealing with the two Assessments referred to above.

The only disappointing news this month is that Ellie Gingell has decided to move on at the end of January. She has offered to provide informal support after that, for which we will be grateful. She has provided considerable support and has provided momentum to what is, quite frankly, an onerous task. While she will be missed, she will tell us who will be her replacement – with regard to assisting us with the Plan – at SNC.

May I wish you a happy Christmas and all the best for 2019.

Roy Hawkesford

Steering Group Chairman’s report to the Parish Council November 2018

This month has been largely a preparation for receiving the Housing Needs and Sites Assessments. We hope to get both reports before the next Neighbourhood Plan meeting, which will give us something ‘concrete’ to work on. It is good practice to offer more sites than might be needed for the number of houses required, so that we can’t be seen to be uncooperative.

While the results of these assessments is not mandatory, clearly it would not make sense to dismiss the findings. Once we have had the opportunity to digest the information, we will contact landowners and/or agents to ascertain the availability of the sites. Following that, we will hold a public meeting where the plans will be available for public scrutiny and comment. We won’t be doing anything as wide-ranging as on June 2nd, though we will be prepared and will try to answer questions on any aspects of the Plan. We will take advantage of the Forum to publicise the public meeting, but we probably won’t leaflet every house – we assume that Forum, posters in the village and word-of-mouth will attract people.

While St George’s Field will not form part of the Plan, because it is part of the NRDA, we can nevertheless look at green spaces, general character and issues that affect wellbeing there. One of the steering group, Gary, who lives there, will hopefully undertake a survey for us that we can include in the Plan. I have written to three residents in Preston Deanery asking if they would be prepared to be involved in certain aspects of the Plan that relate to them, but, as yet, I have received no replies.

In the meantime, Maz has done some excellent work by preparing an action plan for providing evidence for the Plan and the tasks we need to do to ensure that the Plan reflects our parish and its constituent villages. We will be making general statements that relate to the whole parish and also statements about each individual village. For instance, we will examine the different kinds of building in each village, the purpose of which is to form a design statement that will advise all new buildings. We are also in the process of establishing views, which is a key part of the Plan as it determines what we would like conserve for the character of the villages and parish. This might not sound much, but it is an intensive task and one that aims to preserve local character.

We keenly await the Assessments, as they will determine how we proceed and will really take us to the next level of activity. Things will then move more quickly, we will have a definite focus, and all the elements will start to coalesce. Challenging but exciting times ahead!

Cllr Roy Hawkesford

 

Steering Group Chairman’s Report to the Parish Council October 2018

Hackleton Parish Neighbourhood Plan

Steering Group Update

 

Not so much to report this month. We have been furnishing the people doing the Housing Needs and Site Assessments with information they require, but there is nothing to report so far. We have a duty to reveal every site that has been put forward for possible development, so that we cannot be accused of concealing information from developers and the public. Once the Sites Assessment is complete we will have to ascertain from landowners which sites are still ‘live’. Then, when we have the results of the HNA we will have to come to a decision on which sites to present in our draft plan and to the public.

Alongside this we are looking at other aspects of the Plan, biodiversity, views, open spaces and wedges, and buildings (and other things) of special interest which are unlisted. These will have an impact on which sites we choose to present. At this point, it will be proper to make a presentation to the full parish council, to explain our thinking and receive your thoughts.

The big question hanging over everything at the moment – including those at SNC – is the unknown impact of reorganisation. And, beyond that, government can change the situation as it chooses. These are uncertain times, but the Neighbourhood Plan is the best defence we have – especially as those two massive sites between Wootton Fields and Preston Deanery could return once SNC is no longer in existence. I am of the opinion that future Unitary Council members from the Borough will find that area irresistible, despite massive highways, ecological, archaeological and infrastructure issues.

I would like to reiterate our stance, however, that the Plan is not a ‘nimby’ project; we are trying to provide a better future for the whole community of Hackleton Parish.

Roy Hawkesford
Chairman of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group

 

Steering Group Chairman’s Report to the Parish Council September 2018

Hackleton Parish Neighbourhood Plan

Steering Group Update

 

During the last month, the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group has met on three occasions.

On July 23rd we met with our consultant, Michael Wellock, to outline the findings from the Open Day event on June 2nd and to discuss the way forward. The two main tasks ahead are to conduct a Housing Needs Assessment and, following that, a Call for Sites Assessment.

Our application to have a (free) HNA conducted by Locality, the government sponsored organisation, has been accepted, and the work has already begun. We were pleased to learn that we will be consulted in this process; previously it was a case of waiting for the result, without any consultation. It will be useful to us to learn how it is carried out.

The Call for Sites exercise will follow logically from the HNA. This task will be challenging, but we have guidelines from SNC’s document on the subject. We could also apply to Locality for them to conduct the task. This has to be done with full consultation in order to demonstrate that we have conducted an objective assessment. If we fail to do this, speculative developers would be able to challenge our decisions.

On July 30th the Steering Group met to consider the sites from 2014 that were included in the presentation on June 2nd. This was a preliminary exercise to the task itself, which will be conducted when the results of the HNA are known. In theory, any site can be considered, but the rigorous process will involve consultation with landowners, developers and the community. In the meantime it is possible that some exploration of the availability of potential sites will be carried out. Infill remains the preferred option, but opportunities for that are becoming ever more limited.

This does not mean that there will be no work on the Plan while the above is carried out. There are several other parts of the Plan that are important, particularly to do with wildlife, important buildings, open spaces, design, the linking of footpaths to ensure access to all parts of the countryside, and so on. We have started to check out sources that will help us to progress. The hiatus in the housing issue will afford us the time to develop these aspects of the Plan.

I had a meeting with Ellie Gingell, SNC Senior Planning Officer (Neighbourhood Plans) on August 7th to talk through the issues around housing and other aspects of the development of the Plan. This was a very supportive and informative meeting which confirmed that – according to the requirements of the new National Planning Policy Framework – we were on the right track.

With regard to Local Government Reorganisation, we believe we should complete the Plan before any potential impact from LGR comes about. This could be very significant, given the news today that the decision has been taken to merge SNC, DDC and Northampton into one Unitary Council. I would like to remind you that our intention is not to be nimby: hundreds of houses within our parish boundary are built / being built / planned in the NRDA, to support the Borough Council; also, we will be identifying housing needs and sites as appropriate in our villages to keep them sustainable.

Finally, we are optimistic that the first draft of our Plan will be presented to SNC next spring. There is no fast track in the process of achieving our goal, neither should there be. We have to consider the history, concerns and future of the community. The members of the Steering Group are not full-time employees, but we are committed to maintaining the momentum.

This is a complicated, demanding process, and I wish to thank my colleagues for their time, enthusiasm, insightfulness and good humour in making it also a rewarding process.

Roy Hawkesford

17th August 2018.