Dear Resident

Since our first newsletter in August last year, we have carried out the village survey as planned with members of the team delivering questionnaires to every home in the parish asking for your views on a range of issues for Holwell Parish and for the village hall. In most cases, these were then collected personally by team members, and the resulting response was excellent – from a total of 169 households, completed questionnaires were received from 125.

The responses were collated and the results displayed at two open meetings in mid December along with posters showing specific comments made by residents on the various topics. Although fewer residents attended these meetings than previously, the feedback we received was positive and informative, adding to our understanding of village concerns and priorities. The output from the questionnaires is also shown on the Neighbourhood Plan website at http://www.holwellparishcouncil.co.uk/neighbourhood-plan/consultation/

The proposal by Stonewater to build 14 affordable homes in Crouch Lane was certainly a major concern for residents and the Planning Inspector’s decision to allow Stonewater’s appeal and grant permission for the development to proceed, had a significant impact on the Neighbourhood Plan process. Not only did it call into question the amount of additional [future] residential development that could reasonably be included in the Plan (given that it would need the support of the local planning authority), but for some residents, the very point of having a neighbourhood plan was debatable.

The Planning Inspector’s decision prompted the Parish Council to call an Extraordinary Meeting on 28 March 2017 at which the consequences of the Crouch Lane decision and the position of the village with or without a neighbourhood plan were explained to the 50 plus residents who attended. After considerable discussion, an informal show of hands demonstrated overwhelming support for the neighbourhood plan process to continue.

We are therefore continuing with work done in October 2016, when the team issued a ‘Call for Sites’, in order to identify land that residents (or owners of land within the village) wanted to put forward to be considered for some form of development, whether residential or other use. Since September 2016 with the aid of grant money from the Department of Community and Local Government’s Locality programme, we instructed planning consultant Jo Witherden to help us build on the evidence provided by the questionnaires, and complete the next stages in the process. Jo has considerable experience in this field, having worked on neighbourhood planning for both local authorities and neighbourhood plan teams, and her assistance has been invaluable.

Site assessment parameters were developed in conjunction with Jo, and using these parameters, the team has investigated and carried out initial assessments of each site put forward.

It is intended that the sites put forward and the results of these initial assessments will be presented to the village in July for consultation on the options available to us If you have any questions about the Plan or the process, please contact one of the Neighbourhood Planning team or a member of the Parish Council, who will be happy to help.

Finally, we would like to thank each and every one of you who took the time to respond to our questionnaires and to attend the open meetings, and look forward to seeing you in July.

With best wishes,

Holwell Neighbourhood Plan Working Group members

Send your questions to holwellneighbourhoodplan@gmail.com