A Steering Group was set up following the public meeting in February 2016 and the subsequent decision of the Parish Council to prepare a Neighbourhood Plan. The group currently comprises five members, plus interested parties. There is always room for more and, when we get to the hard work, there will be a need for greater local involvement.
The first step was to define the area to be covered by the plan, and following local precedent, the Parish Boundary was agreed upon by the Parish Council and duly submitted to SODC for approval in September 2016. It was duly confirmed and registered by the district council on 21 December 2016.
Meanwhile the Steering Group prepared the Terms of Reference under which it would operate within the government’s procedures, and these were confirmed by the PC on 14 December 2016. At the same time the Steering Group produced a set of Goals and Objectives to guide the preparation of the Neighbourhood Plan. Approved by the Parish Council, also in December 2016, the Goals and Objectives have been published in the Parish Notes, reported to SODC for the district’s Neighbourhood Plan website, re-issued as a consultation, and can be seen via this link
In line with established practice, the Steering Group produced a Project Planner, setting down a provisional timetable for the production of the NP. The dates set out to guide the process include:
- Developing and refining the issues, evidence gathering, draft policies and assessing conformity with the local plan – June to October 2017.
- Draft plan – November 2017
- Sign-off of draft plan – December 2017
- Pre-submission consultation – January 2018
- Review of consultation and amendments to plan – February/March 2018
- Basic conditions statement – April 2018
- Consultation statement – May 2018
- Plan submission to SODC – June 2018
SODC then pick up the baton to arrange the examination of the Neighbourhood Plan, leading to a local referendum towards the end of 2018. The aim is to see the Neighbourhood Plan “made” by March 2019.
Over the summer of 2017 there will be extensive local consultation, and, hopefully, involvement in identifying the content of the Neighbourhood Plan. It should be noted that, in South Oxfordshire, the Neighbourhood Plan is, to some extent, a defence mechanism prompted by a) the emerging SODC policy to spread the supply of new housing sites on a pro-rata basis throughout all settlements in the district, and b) the established policy in SODC not to draw local plan boundaries to define settlement areas within which, in principle, new development would be acceptable. This means that Aston Rowant Parish will be asked, if the emerging policy is confirmed in 2018, to identify potential housing sites in the defined area for new housing, as a minimum, to contribute growth to 2033 and, by the same token, to identify those areas which, following public consultation and local plan-compliant justification, should not be developed.
This is the next task and the one in which all residents and interested parties will need to take part in the next few months. It will form the core of the Neighbourhood Plan, that part which distinguishes the Aston Rowant Neighbourhood Plan from others or from the district-wide local plan.
Consultation will be a major exercise over the coming months, and the justification of plans and policies, based on full public awareness and acceptance, is fundamental to the completion of the Neighbourhood Plan process. The contact email has been established as email@example.com
THIS IS NOT JUST A NIMBY EXERCISE – IT IS OUR CHANCE TO SET THE TEMPLATE FOR THE FUTURE OF OUR VILLAGES, SO THAT, WHATEVER HAPPENS, IT HAPPENS WHEN WE WANT IT, HOW WE WANT IT AND IN A WAY THAT IS BEST FOR US AND FOR OUR CHILDREN. MAKE SURE YOUR VIEWS ARE HEARD, OR, BETTER STILL, PLAY AN ACTIVE PART IN THE PREPARATION OF THE NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN.
Chairman – Aston Rowant Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group