BLINDINGLY OBVIOUS - this is NOT the voice of Blisworth Parish Council
Opportunity to Influence Planning ?
article was posted in November 2011 in anticipation of the debate on
an introduction to neighbourhood planning, this is what a government
leaflet tells us:
They will be able to:
The Government wants to introduce the right to do neighbourhood planning through the Localism Bill. The Localism Bill is being debated by Parliament at the moment and by the time this article has been posted will be nearing full status.
There are already a large number of Parish Councils who are 'piloting' this scheme and one of them is quite near to Blisworth; Wootton and East Hunsbury Parish Council. The scheme is promoted in detail (but not in a very coherent written format) at a dedicated website:
Much of the documentation has been published within the last two months and the details are presented for consultation until early January 2012. Any member of the public or any organisation such as our Parish Council may comment in detail, if they wish.
for our Parish Council:
appears we are invited to designate neighbourhoods and then, at certain
stages in the future, exercise our right to be the planning authority.
seems little point in our just having one neighbourhood, we can take advantage of the
various natural differences in parts of the village and create a small
number of neighbourhoods. *It seems that we really need to include all contiguous fields around
the village into our neighbourhoods so that we can have a say in their future
We can legitimately refer to them as the visual amenity (primarily) associated
with each of the neighborhoods.
However, the SNC has re-stated the reminder that the village Confines
Boundaries will be reviewed soon and this may cut across our desire to
preserve visual amenity. The Googled map of the village
below gives you one suggestion for the neighbourhoods – please don’t
get hung up on the details of these boundaries at this stage.
purely (and this adverb cannot be over-emphasised)as examples, there are outlined three neighbourhoods including the nearby fields
plus a "rural neighbourhood".
These are outlined in red as follows:
NORTH-WEST - Pond Bank, Chapel Lane, Chapel Hill Fm.
For the Central neighbourhood
most of the houses are Victorian or of earlier vintage and the boundaries
are conveniently aligned with much of the boundaries of Blisworth's
Conservation Area. The fourth neighbourhood includes all single
houses and clusters of houses that are substantially encircled by
fields. This is a convenient way to insure that the entire parish is
its large cluster (The Arm), small clusters (Station Road, Railway
Cottages and Pynus Cottages), industrial groupings which include dwellings
and offices (Northampton Road Complex, Blisworth Hill Farm, etc) and the
large number of single dwellings inc. farm houses. Our
village's “Neighbourhood Plan”, which can be a version of our Village Design
Statement (written originally in March 2011 having arisen from the actions
on the Blisworth Community Plan,
2009 - 2011), shall have to be constructed
so that it will do various things that will satisfy “an official
examination” of the document. This aspect
is left out for the present – please suppose "the plan" is written
has passed the examiner who has the satisfaction of knowing we are a
"capable" group. With it, we
will have described and registered our neighbourhoods on the basis of our
opinions about them. Apparently, we
need to be "rigorous" in our account. We will probably say that almost any housing
development, apart from in-filling, would spoil visual amenity or hamper traffic in the
village. However, with care there might be small pockets that may be
developed with a benefit to the village given simultaneous improvement to
the highways. It's hoped that the idea is conveyed: all the agreed policy bits and pieces
we feel are desirable can get folded into the definition of our
envisaged in going forward and using the neighbourhood plan will, at least, include the following:
The Parish Council appears to be promised an early involvement when a new and fairly major development is to be proposed.
The council would be informed of its existence and its detailed
An operational code for the Parish Council may then be as follows: If
the neighbourhood is left un-determined then the SNC will manage
the planning in the age-old way and we would decide this option if we basically approve the
plan and feel that we can obtain enough adjustment in the details by
processes akin to what we are familiar with.
From the Viewpoint of Villagers: Many questions will arise in the next few months. Let us be optimistic and hope that this is the first real opportunity that there has been for villagers to control planning - this is assuming that the "Localism Bill" succeeds through Parliament. This document serves as a "heads-up" for villagers. Be aware that the enthusiasm in this scheme, expressed by our Parish Council, will be governed by councillor's willingness and their availability to get their hands dirty and enter a sometimes technical and sometimes contentious arena.
That last sentiment takes us naturally to the next point. Here is an extract from The Independent, Sunday 13th November 2011, in an article about another example of "Localism" in action: One million state workers are to be transferred out of hospitals, colleges and job centres as part of David Cameron's "aggressive aspiration" to create John Lewis-mutual style public services. With little fanfare, services across the country are being quietly taken over by their own staff - state funded but run independently. The Prime Minister claims the number of services that adopt the scheme will be a key test of his Big Society vision. This is all just the mechanics under the car bonnet to make the car work better. (Of course, the motoring analogy means our politician is being 'frank' and hopes few will consider themselves competent to look under any bonnet, Ed.) What has been created here is a new freedom, in which staff or a voluntary organisation (ed's. use of bold) may run a service. These 'mutuals' put staff in the driving seat etc. etc.....
To what extent is a volunteer group like a Parish Council expected to run a professional service like Planning? Enough to save significant costs in running a Planning Department perhaps. Will this prove to be a real benefit? We all know that village volunteers wander off to 'get a life' sooner or later - how does the, by then, slimmed down Planning Department cope after that?
Come along and join the
public at the Parish Council meetings each month to listen to their deliberations,
maybe input your ideas.