Questions and Answers about the Neighbourhood Plan

 

What is a Neighbourhood Plan?

A Neighbourhood Plan is a way of helping local communities to influence the planning of the area in which they live and work.

It can be used to:

  • Develop a shared vision for your neighbourhood.
  • Choose where new homes, shops, offices and other development should be built.
  • Identify and protect important local green spaces.
  • Influence what new buildings should look like.

Who is running the Keele Neighbourhood Plan?

The plan is being produced by Keele Parish Council but the Keele Neighbourhood Plan Group is made up of Parish Councillors, Residents of the Parish and representatives of local business such as the University.

Who decided the make-up of the Neighbourhood Plan Group?

The group consists entirely of volunteers and remains open to anyone.

Why do we need a Neighbourhood Plan?

We live in a time of rapid change and development.  Keele is a great place to live but the facilities we do have can be lost e.g. the Hawthorns Shop.  We need to plan and secure our future with regard to housing, community facilities, transport, education, agriculture, business and our environment.

What can a Neighbourhood Plan do?

  • Decide where and what type of development should happen in the neighbourhood.
  • Include policies, for example regarding design standards, that take precedence over existing policies in the Local Plan for the neighbourhood – provided the Neighbourhood Plan policies do not conflict with the strategic policies in the Local Plan.

What can’t a Neighbourhood Plan do?

  • Conflict with the strategic policies in the Local Plan prepared by the local planning authority.
  • Be used to prevent development that is included in the Local Plan.

We have to work with Newcastle under Lyme.  The Joint Local Plan with Stoke on Trent is currently under preparation but we currently have no planned housing supply for the next 5 years.  A new assessment of Newcastle’s needs housing is in preparation by the council and the Neighbourhood Plan is having a Strategic Housing Needs assessment completed for the parish.  Much is uncertain and old protections against development have been weakened.  The plan will allow us to stay well informed, identify what type of housing we need and where it might be built.  No plan would open the parish to uncontrolled speculative development and put us on the back foot.

What is the process of developing the plan?

Engaging the community: we have help public meetings, consultation events, set up a Facebook page and website, publicised the plan in the Yew Tree, set up a mailing list and hold regular planning meetings

Funding: we have obtained £7k funding from ‘Locality’ for the initial stages of the plan and have also secured additional technical assistance.  In the first case this is taking the form of a housing needs survey.  So far, there has been no cost to the Parish Council.  We have employed the help of a Neighbourhood Plan Consultant to help us.

Designation: after a period of negotiation with the University and Newcastle Council, the entirety of the parish was designated as the area for the plan. The University’s Master Plan will form part of the Neighbourhood Plan with respect to development within the University site.

Identifying the issues: this is the primary objective of the questionnaire.  The Neighbourhood Plan is your plan.  Whilst the individuals involved in producing the plan have their own ideas about what the planning issues are for Keele and we have already collected opinions at our consultation events, we need more information about what matters to you. Analysing the questionnaire responses will help us identify the key issues and suggest further areas for consultation.

Options and Drafting Policies: will start once we have the information from the questionnaires.  We will identify what the key concerns are, what strategies exist to deal with them and what planning policies are needed in our plan.  This work will be carried out by the Keele Neighbourhood Plan Group attendance at whose meetings is open to the whole community.  Minutes will continue to be published on the website.

Draft Plan: this will be complete once policies have been produced.  The Keele Neighbourhood Plan Group will share it with you, invite your feedback and then modify the draft plan in the light of this feedback. We hope to have complete this stage by the autumn of 2017.  The plan will also be subject to consultation with various statutory bodies including the county council and neighbouring parishes.

Submission: once the above has been completed the plan will be submitted to Newcastle council.  They will check the plan meets all legal and technical requirements and once they are satisfied that it does it will be publicised and subject to a further 6 weeks of formal consultation.

Independent Examination: the plan will be checked by an independent examiner to make sure it is compliant with all local and national planning policies and legislation including the Joint Local Plan.

Referendum: its been a long road to this point.  Once all the previous steps have been completed the plan goes to the voters of Keele Parish to decide if they want to adopt it or not.  That is why it is critical that we develop the plan to meet the needs you identify. The referendum will be run by the Local Authority and will require a simple majority of those voting to be passed.

Adoption: the plan now becomes part of local planning policy and has legal status! Amongst other impacts, it will inform planning decisions made by the planning department and will direct development within the parish.

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