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Neighbourhood Plan

Background

The Localism Act has changed the planning system to give local people a greater say in how their communities are developed. Neighbourhood Development Plans will now give residents the opportunity to decide the planning policies for the use and development of the land in their town or parish, include choosing where new homes, shops, leisure facilities or businesses should be built, how many there should be, and what the buildings should look like.

Plans need to conform with planning policies and guidance at local, national and European levels and comply with the Neighbourhood Planning Regulations. They also need to demonstrate that the local community has been fully involved throughout their development and they are subject to agreement in a community referendum on completion.

Once a Neighbourhood Plan has been made and adopted, it becomes a statutory plan carrying equal weight with Herefordshire Council's Local Plan, is part of the Local Development Framework and will be used by Herefordshire Council in making decisions on planning applications in the Neighbourhood Area. Further information can be found here.

The Bodenham Neighbourhood Development Plan

In early 2013 the Parish Council arranged for Bodenham Parish to be designated as a Neighbourhood Area and on 8 April 2013 it established the nucleus of a Steering Group to develop a Neighbourhood Plan for the Parish.

This is a very important initiative because of the way it will influence the development of the Parish through the future planning process. As already mentioned, the local community has to be fully involved and evidence of this has to be provided, for example, through the outcome of surveys of the views of local residents. You can find documents providing this evidence here and more will be added as preparation of the Plan progresses.

Regulation 14 Consultation

At its Meeting on 1 August 2016 the Parish Council approved the draft Plan for circulation in what is called the ‘Regulation 14 Consultation’. This was when local residents and businesses had the chance to study the draft and comment on it formally. (You can find out more about this and the other parts of the neighbourhood planning process here).

Printed copies of the draft Plan were delivered to households and businesses by volunteers in the week Monday 26 September - Sunday, 2 October 2016. (You can still find and, if you wish, download a copy of that edition of the draft plan here).

The formal six-week Regulation 14 Consultation started on Monday, 3 October and finished on Monday, 14 November 2016, while the deadline for comments was 5.00pm on Sunday, 20 November 2016. Over 60 responses to the Consultation were received and the Parish Council would like to express its thanks to all those who took the trouble to study the draft Plan and submit their views on it.

What Happens Now?

Following the Consultation, the Parish Council's next task has been to prepare its reply to each of the responses it has received and to consider what, if any, changes it needs to make to the draft Plan in the light of all the views which have been expressed. With so many responses received - some of them quite detailed - this has proved to be a lengthy process and has involved the Parish Council seeking advice on the more technical points from our independent planning consultant.

However, good progress is being made and in due course the results will be published in a draft 'Consultation Statement'. This document will set out details of when and how local residents have been consulted in the preparation of the draft Plan and will include transcripts of all the responses received to the formal Consultation, together with the Parish Council's replies to them and the changes to the draft Plan which have resulted.

At the same time a new, updated version of the draft Plan will be published incorporating all the latest modifications and this will take us almost to the point when the Parish Council can submit the draft Plan and various accompanying documents to Herefordshire Council. If Herefordshire Council approve, the Plan will then be circulated for a second, final six week Consultation before, all being well, it is sent to an independent examiner for consideration. Only if he or she agrees can the Plan eventually go to a referendum at which local residents will have the final say on whether it is accepted or rejected.

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