neighbourhood planning

The first step, in late 2016, 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. It was duly confirmed and registered by the district council on 21 December 2016.

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 were published in the Parish Notes, reported to SODC for the district’s Neighbourhood Plan website and re-issued as a consultation.

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 have since been updated to reflect the continuing changes in policy at SODC and the subsequent involvement of AECOM, as consultants on matters relating to housing need and site assessment. 

Currently anticipated dates include:

Developing and refining the issues, evidence gathering, draft policies and assessing conformity with the local plan – June 2017 to June 2018

SODC then pick up the baton to arrange the examination of the Neighbourhood Plan, leading to a local referendum early in 2019.  The aim is to see the Neighbourhood Plan “made” by late Spring / early Summer 2019.


What's Next?

Over the summer of 2017 there was extensive local consultation and public 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 current task and the one in which all residents and interested parties will need to take part in the next few months.   On the advice of SODC, this task is being shared with AECOM, consultants with My Community / Locality, who co-ordinate NP preparation with local authorities.  Feedback from AECOM is expected in June / July 2018, based on a) the sites identified by local residents through the consultation of June 2017, and b) the housing sites criteria which were the subject of public consultation and agreement (December 2017 – February 2018).  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.

Recent planning applications for housing, some approved by SODC and others refused, do not change the need for the NP nor the need for the allocation of potential housing sites.  Once “suitable” sites have been identified, their “availability” will have to be assessed, together with the “need” for particular types, sizes or tenures of new housing.

Consultation has been a major exercise over the last twelve 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 for any question to the NP Committee has been established as
np@astonrowant.org.uk

THE NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN 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.

Mark Thackeray
Chairman – Aston Rowant Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group
May 2018

an mh-p website