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Rodborough Common at sunset

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Pirrie Hall, Brook

/Neighbourhood Plan (NP) Background
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Neighbourhood Plan (NP)

At an Extraordinary Meeting of the Council held on the 18 June 2014, Members unanimously agreed to start a Neighbourhood Plan (‘the Plan’) for the parish.  The formation of a Steering Group was also agreed.  Whilst the Plan is led by the Parish Council, everyone can be involved, indeed this is essential.

Neighbourhood planning is a new way for communities to decide the future of the places where they live and work.  The process for developing a Neighbourhood Plan is a lengthy one and over the coming months the Council will explain more about the Plan and how you can become involved.

There are 5 stages to the neighbourhood planning process.  This is a very brief overview:

Agreeing the Neighbourhood: This means defining the area to be covered by the plan.  At the Extraordinary Meeting Members agreed that the area should be the current administrative area of the parish and the Clerk was asked to write formally to Waverley Borough Council to begin the process of defining the neighbourhood area.  This will be widely advertised by Waverley Borough Council in due course and you will have the opportunity to comment to Waverley on the proposal.

Preparing your Plan:  This means you!  Over the coming months look out for further information on how you can become involved, what having a Plan will mean for you and your neighbourhood.  This information will be on our noticeboards and here on our website.

Independent Check:  The Plan will be subject to independent examination to check, amongst other things, that it meets the right basic standards.

Community Referendum:  Parishioners living in the neighbourhood, who are registered to vote in local elections will be able to vote.  If more than 50% of people voting in the referendum support the neighbourhood plan then the local planning authority must bring it into force.

Neighbourhood Plan:  Following a successful referendum the Plan is then brought into legal force, it forms part of the statutory Development Plan for our area. Consequently, decisions on whether or not to grant planning permission in the neighbourhood area will need to be made in accordance with the Neighbourhood Plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise.

Updates from September 2014:

Designation of a neighbourhood area – an application has now been made to Waverley Borough Council (WBC) for the designation of a neighbourhood area. Representations to be made to WBC by Monday 20th October 2014. Please see the attached notice. Details of the area are shown in the attached map.

November 2014:

Designation confirmed – Designation of the neighbourhood area was confirmed on the 13th November 2014.  The WBC Executive agreed the area application from WPC for the purposes of the Witley Neighbourhood Plan.  The five day scrutiny call-in period then passed and their decision therefore stood.

September 2019:

Regulation 14 Consultation – In May /June 2019 we undertook a six week consultation on the first draft of the Witley Neighbourhood Plan.  We had 169 responses from residents and further representations from the various statutory bodies we consulted. Links to the draft plan and supporting documents can be found at the bottom of the page.

Overall, the feedback was very positive – every policy was supported fully or in part by a high percentage of respondents, but there were some areas where we hadn’t explained ourselves clearly enough, some things we had missed and some instances where respondents’ suggestions enabled us to strengthen the policies. With the help of our planning consultants, Nexus, we have reviewed all comments and have made the appropriate changes.

One general theme was that we should make the policies more definite. Respondents wanted us to take out “where possible” and “if appropriate” and to replace “should” with “must”. Planning law prevents us from being too proscriptive; we cannot make unreasonable demands on developers, and they would appeal against them if we did. In some cases, all we are legally able to do is indicate the preference of local people and in those cases we had to leave the wording as it stands. However, there were places where we could strengthen the wording and we have done that.

Possibly the most contentious policy was ND1 – which requires Waverley Borough Council (WBC) to consider Secretts as a possible development site. We believe that a development within the village has benefits for new and existing residents. It was pleasing to see that 85% of you supported this fully or with some reservations. Just to clarify one misunderstanding that was apparent from several responses – a housing development at Secretts would not mean the loss of the farm shop or the other retail units and businesses.

An example of a policy which was not explained clearly, was the wording in policy ND2 about extending homes. It has long been a concern of the Parish Council that so many smaller properties are extended beyond recognition, often by property developers, into much larger homes, thus reducing the availability of smaller homes and changing the character of our streets. Policy ND2 was intended to make that more difficult. It was not intended to prevent extensions to all properties, which is how it came across. That policy has been reworded.

Policy A1, about the new healthcare hub, generated a lot of responses. The general feeling was positive, although many people pointed out that it was difficult to comment without knowing where it would be built. That unfortunately is a decision that cannot be made until WBC have decided where new housing will be sited, because the location of the healthcare hub will probably be tied in with that.

Although many respondents expressed strong concerns about road safety, traffic noise and congestion we cannot incorporate those suggestions into the plan, much as we would have liked to. We cannot widen roads. We cannot reduce the number of lorries. We cannot reduce the speed limit below 30mph on A roads. There are only two things we can do – the first is to lobby Surrey County Council’s Highways department to draw their attention to local problems and the second is to introduce measures to help improve road safety, such as pedestrian crossings, using money contributed by developers.

It’s not all about planning. Although most of the policies in the plan are intended to be taken on board by developers when they are designing new developments, there are some that will direct the Parish Council in its future decisions about the local environment, such as policies on trees and biodiversity.

Once we have an adopted Neighbourhood Plan we will receive 25% of the CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) that is paid on new homes, which can be spent on improving local facilities.

Page last modified on Dec 5, 2019