The Parish Councils of Nocton and Potterhanworth agreed in early 2014 to begin the process of developing a joint Neighbourhood Plan to give all residents an opportunity to decide how the two villages should develop, and be developed, over the coming years. The District Council subsequently approved formally this proposal in April, 2014.
Although there was initially some delay in beginning the process, partly as a consequence of seeking to involve another local village in the Plan, work started in earnest in 2015. Both Parish Councils were clear that the development of the Plan should be community rather than councillor-led although there would be a need for each Parish Council to keep an over sight of the preparation process and to ensure that there was wide-spread and meaningful consultation.
The proposal has been fully aired at meetings of the two parish councils (including the respective Annual Parish Meetings) and given wide publicity throughout the villages, including a reference in the Nocton and Potterhanworth Annual Reports. Neighbourhood planning also features as a regular item on the agenda for meetings of both Parish Councils.
A series of meetings of an informal “Steering Group” comprising the Chair and Vice-chair of Nocton Parish Council and four community representatives from Potterhanworth and the Chair of its Parish Council have been taking place. This has resulted in a number of the building blocks being put in place, including the establishment of two groups of community representatives from Nocton and Potterhanworth who will oversee the development of the various elements of the Plan as they affect their own village. Nocton Parish Council has recently formalised this arrangement and Potterhanworth is expected to do so shortly.
This Group has proposed that the Plan concentrate on the future provision of housing in the area as it is felt that this will be the issue of most concern and interest to residents. Other issues can be included (e.g. leisure, employment, renewable energy, the environment, etc) but the more such policies are included, the more complex and time-consuming the process will become. Given the potential threats to the community from developers seeking to take advantage of the absence of an approved Local Plan (as is happening in other areas) it is intended that the Plan will concentrate on the scale of future housing development.
Membership of the two community groups is as follows although there is still time for others to become involved.
For Nocton, the group comprises:
- Kevin Clark – Wasps Nest
- Councillor Ian Goldsworthy – Conservation Area/Chair of Parish Council
- Ann Hardy – Wellhead Lane
- Philip Johnston-Davis/Nick Johnston-Davis – Nocton Park
- Graham Kempster – Nocton Top
- Councillor Liz Murray – Conservation Area/Vice-chair of Parish Council
- Jean Matson -
- Simon Matusiewicz -
- Christine Metcalf -
- Julie Parry – Conservation Area
- Alec Tate – Potterhanworth Booths
- Councillor Harold Bourne – Chair of Parish council
- Jackie Bourne – The Park area
- Richard Gilding – Moore Lane area, including Fosters Gardens and Queensway
It should be noted, of course, that we cannot say “no” to any further development. There is a clear and obvious need to provide more housing to meet the county’s growing population. However, the Neighbourhood Plan will provide an opportunity for us to say how much development should take place in our area, its nature in terms of construction, style, etc and, of course, most importantly, where it should be located.
A questionnaire seeking the views of residents on how they wish our villages to develop will be delivered to every household and business in the area from which the basics of the Plan will be prepared. There will also be consultation with landowners together with other interested parties and organisations. Various “consultation” events will be held as the process develops to ensure that, as far as possible, the Plan really does reflect the views and aspirations of all residents.
This will culminate in the preparation of a draft Neighbourhood Plan which will then be examined by an independent Planning Inspector and, subject to her/his approval put to the residents of Nocton and Potterhanworth in a referendum. If the majority of residents voting approve the Plan, then it will become a legally binding document which any future developer will have to abide by.
Further updates and information will be provided as the preparation of the Plan progresses.