The case for moving on from the Village Design Statement to a Neighbourhood Plan was outlined in an article by Councillor Donaldson, first published in May 2022 edition of THE GAZZETE and is reproduced below.
A NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN FOR ELMDON, DUDDENHOE END AND WENDEN LOFTS?
In 2019 the villages within the Parish completed a Village Design statement (VDS), which was adopted by Uttlesford DC as Council Approved Guidance for the purposes of Development Management and Planning Policy.
Whilst there is no legal requirement for Uttlesford to take the VDS into consideration when determining planning applications, the fact that Uttlesford adopted it means that it should be used by planning officers in the determination of planning applications to reflect the existing local character of the area.
Other Parishes within the district adopted a Neighbourhood plan. Why didn’t we?
The decision to proceed with a VDS rather than any other type of Village plan came out of a decision taken by vote at a public meeting in
in 2016. At the time there were several considerations lending themselves to a VDS:
Time – a VDS could be completed in a 2-3 year time frame whilst a neighbourhood plan could take up to 5
Cost – a VDS estimate was £2-3,000, whilst a Neighbourhood plan could be up to £12,000, although government grants may be available to pay towards these costs.
The Uttlesford Local Plan – any Neighbourhood Plan must be in conformity with the Local Plan. At the time Uttlesford were working on their Local Plan which was subsequently rejected by Government.
The Parish not being a target for major development. Uttlesford have a scale of 4 settlement hierarchies attracting major to minor development (Market Towns, Key Villages, Rural Settlements – Type ‘A’ and Rural Settlements – Type ‘B’). We are Type “B” which means that we are only suitable for a scale of development that would provide services mainly for our community i.e., minor development.
Lastly (and crucially), the information within a VDS can be used as a basis from which to compile a Neighbourhood Plan, so any effort would not be wasted.
Circumstances move on and, whilst we are still a Type “B” settlement, there is considerable and increasing pressure for development in the area and indeed up to the boundaries of our Parish. Is now the time to expand the existing VDS into a full Neighbourhood plan?
The advantage is that having an adopted Neighbourhood Plan carries more weight in the decision-making process than a VDS. Once adopted there would be a legal requirement on Uttlesford to take it into the consideration of design standards when determining planning applications. It is important at this point to remember that a Neighbourhood plan, or VDS for that matter cannot be used to oppose development for opposition’s sake, it is however a vital tool in ensuring that any development is proportionate and in keeping with the rural nature of our community.
Your Parish Council certainly believe that now is the right time to be looking at a Neighbourhood Plan, using the VDS as a stepping stone. Also, Uttlesford look like they are getting their act together on their Local Plan to which any Parish Neighbourhood plan would have to conform.
As with the VDS, in areas where a parish or town council exists, these are the only bodies that can prepare a Neighbourhood Plan. However, we take the view that on something that requires input from a broad range of local stakeholders this must reflect the uniqueness of our natural and built environment, this should be a broad-based community led group reporting through the Parish Council in a similar way to the successful VDS.
Accordingly, we welcome the thoughts of Parishioners either through a response to the Parish Clerk or, more importantly, in person at the Annual General Meeting of the Parish Council which will be held in Duddenhoe End Village Hall on the evening of 5 May 2022 starting at 7pm. Neighbourhood Planning will be on the agenda!
Originally published in THE GAZETTE May 2022