NEXT MEETING: Monday 20 NOVEMBER 2017 – 7.30pm Haversham Social & Community Centre
This month Parish Council Chair Nick Watson is focussing on the Haversham and Little Linford Neighbourhood Plan. This, he says, is going to keep us busy for perhaps the next two years.
Our Community – the future
You may remember that at the beginning of this year the main concern we had as a community was the fear that we would be swamped by building projects that would carpet a large part of the entire parish with massive housing developments. Thanks to the hard work of volunteers working under the banner of Protect Rural MK, the work of the Parish Council, and neighbouring rural Parish Councils, with funds to pay for a specialist planning consultant, we have been able to mount a spirited justification of why such large scale projects were inappropriate for our community. But while it looks like we’ve seen off the threat of major large scale developments for now, we realise that in order to defend ourselves in the long term, we have to take control of planning in our own community. Fortunately there is a legal tool that allows us to do just that. We can make proposals for developments that we – as a community – think are appropriate for us, as a community. And this will be in the form of a Neighbourhood Plan.
What is a Neighbourhood Plan?
Put simply, a Neighbourhood Plan is:
That definition comes from the website mycommunity.org.uk, which is useful starting point for beginning to understand what it is, and how we need to go about creating one. Crucially it will be our plan, developed and delivered by ourselves, to meet our own needs. It will allow us to develop planning policies that reflect our priorities for our area. The plan will have real legal weight.
Because the plan has legal weight, we need to follow formal processes, and at the end of the development phase, we all take part in a referendum vote that confirms our commitment to the proposals, and requires the local authority to bring the plan into force.
Again, because the Plan will have legal weight, the whole task of creating it needs to be tackled carefully. It’ll need a lot of effort. We will be getting help from a professional who has expertise in developing plans like this (and there are grants that we can apply for to pay for that person). We will also take advice from neighbouring communities who have recently been through this process.
But almost all of this work has to be a community effort from within. Firstly, this is because there is a lot of work involved, over quite a long period of time. Some of these plans can take up to 18 months in development. We need people from Haversham and Little Linford to bring their skills, knowledge, experience (and stamina!) to contribute to the process.
But secondly, and more importantly, the development of the Plan needs to involve representatives from across the community. We need to make sure that all voices are heard, and that everyone can input into the process. If we don’t, the plan will fail to reflect the whole community, which it must do. Come the time when we have a referendum, no-one should be taken by surprise but what the plan proposes, and we should have talked through any differences of opinion along the way, and put forward something that we can all work with.
Anyone who follows the local press will have seen that there is a community in the area that has recently been sadly split apart because of disagreements over their plan. Needless to say we want to avoid that at all costs.
So over the coming weeks and months we will be communicating more about the Plan, what it’ll involve, and what it will mean for us as a community. We’ll be forming a Development Team made up of local people. Working with the Parish Council that team will have a key role in forming the proposals. The team will be working to understand what we all want to happen in Haversham and Little Linford, interpreting that in planning terms, and then crafting the draft plan, which will be tested democratically in a referendum. The result will be binding for the foreseeable future. It will shape this community as a part of Milton Keynes, but with its own unique identity, for the next generation. I hope that you will be prepared to contribute to this work.
Chair – Nick Watson
31 Brookfield Rd Tel. 01908 315566
Vice Chair Pam Williams
3 Mill Road
2 The Stables
35 Brookfield Rd
31 Brookfield Rd
21 Wolverton Road
108 Wolverton Road
The statutory Declarations of Councillors’ Interests are available on the MKC website.