We have submitted our application for the whole of Keele Parish to be designated as the Neighbourhood Plan Area to Newcastle Borough Council. It followed a successful meeting between the University, Newcastle and the Parish Council. Despite the complexities of our Parish, it was the belief of all concerned that this was the best approach and that the advantages of working together far exceeded any difficulties that might arise. We anticipate the application will be successful and we should have designated status within the next few months.
We have also submitted our bids for Technical Support and Grant funding to Locality who are the funding body. In recognition of the complexities of Keele Parish we have been accepted as eligible for technical support, which in the first instance is likely to be a housing needs survey but help may also be available for ecological and design assessments. Our grant application has also been received and awaits us finalising some of the costings in the application.
We are realising that the challenges of developing a Neighbourhood Plan are such that our initial ambition to have the plan in draft by next summer may not be achieved. Nevertheless, it is increasingly clear that developing a plan for Keele will be critical. Recent legal decisions have made clear that Greenbelt Status cannot be used to refuse development where a local authority lacks a 5 year housing supply plan. Newcastle under Lyme is in this position and Keele in the past has been benefitted by being washed over by the Greenbelt.
We are now developing an initial vison statement and making plans for further public consultation. Our publicity campaign during the referendum at the Village Hall was very successful and we now have over 50 email addresses of people who are interested in the plan. We still need more participants and particularly people willing to take part in the Steering Group.