Are you neighbourhood plan fit?

On Wednesday 24th October, Mike Dando from Planning Aid England, which is one of the four government funded organisations delivering localism training; hosted an event at Grimsby Town Hall. With VANEL’s support ‘Are you neighbourhood plan fit’ attracted around 40 delegates. The delegates representing many of our local parishes, big local and action groups participated in several workshops and came away with an understanding of Neighbourhood Planning and the requirements of the process.

John Mooney (VANEL) who facilitated discussion on one tables explains “There was quite a strong feeling within the group that a good relationship with the planning department would be essential, and a clear idea of what would be in the Local Plan would be needed before intelligent Neighbourhood Planning could take place. Essentially the group felt that they were a long way from being Neighbourhood Planning ready and there was little sense in embarking on the process before more was known.”

The event was supported by North East Lincolnshire Council’s Planning Department and several officers were in attendance.

Lesley Leach, clerk to Waltham Parish council attended along with 3 councillors and the Ward Councillor Phillip Jackson. Lesley explains “The event was very informative, it was particularly useful to have North East Lincolnshire Council’s Planning officers Mark Cawood and Ian King to hand to answer questions and offer their take on it. Waltham have arranged a extraordinary council meeting to discuss the way forward in preparation for the town and parish Liaison Committee meeting that will be discussing the local plan.”

Mike Dando of Planning Aid England ”It was great to see so many people in attendance at the Town Hall in October, something which we couldn’t have achieved without the fantastic support of VANEL. Not only were people there, but they were clearly interested and eager to find out more. While not too much neighbourhood planning activity is likely to emerge in the short term, I got a real sense that people went away much better informed and ,what’s more, better informed about planning generally and ready to engage with the Council’s Local Plan, consultation on which was imminent, a happy and timely coincidence!”

North East Lincolnshire Council are currently consulting on their Statement of Community Involvement (SCI), as well as the new Local Plan and an interim statement for new housing developments. These can all be found on the Council’s Website at http://www.nelincs.gov.uk/council/planning-policy/new-local-plan/time-to-say/ – or at your local library.

The SCI identifies some of the opportunities for communities and neighbourhoods to be involved in developing the new plan. The council are keen that communities feel that they have ownership over the issues being dealt with. Jason Longhurst, head of development, said: “We want communities to take advantage of this opportunity to steer new development. We need to deliver new houses in the area, but people can influence where and how that happens through the local plan.”