In our last newsletter in June 2017, we were planning to hold open meetings in July to present village residents with our assessment of the various sites put forward by local landowners for inclusion in the Neighbourhood Plan. As part of the assessment process, each site was visited by members of the working group / team who photographed the site and made notes of its key features. The information gathered on each site was then reviewed by individual team members independently against specific pre-determined criteria, before being reviewed and discussed collectively with the aim of ensuring individual scores were based on the same methodology.
As a result of our assessments, the 24 sites that had been put forward were divided into three categories; Green – those that scored highest against our selection criteria (and were therefore considered most suitable for development), Amber – those which generally scored less well, and Red – those deemed least suitable for development.
Our next task ahead of the July open meeting was to agree the content and format of the questionnaire residents would be asked to complete at the open meeting. It was considered important for residents not simply to score individual sites, but also to be able to register specific views or ideas about the sites themselves, as well as on topics such as Holwell’s key features, affordable housing, appropriate level of new market housing etc.
Posters were put up and fliers delivered by hand advertising the meeting on the evening of Thursday 20 July, and we were delighted with the response – over 60 people attended, and several questionnaires were completed there and then. In addition, the information was made available on the Neighbourhood Plan’s section of the parish website, (see details below) and a second open meeting was held on the morning of Saturday 12 August, which was less well attended.
After such a positive initial response, it was disappointing to receive only 37 completed questionnaires, and it was decided to extend the deadline for their receipt to the end of September and to hold a coffee morning at the village hall on 20 September to give residents a further opportunity to view the information and complete their questionnaires.
As a result, around 60 questionnaires were received, and a detailed analysis of the results was undertaken to determine the village’s view of the sites put forward for consideration. We are planning to present this analysis at an open meeting in the Village Hall likely to be in late March/early April and via the Neighbourhood Plan section of the website.
Members of the team have also been working on a draft of the Plan itself, focusing on Holwell’s history, built and natural environment, key features, wildlife and green spaces and issues such as flooding. In addition, a grant was received from Locality specifically for an independent report by AECOM entitled ‘Holwell Heritage and Character Assessment’ which will be incorporated in the Plan.
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.
As before, we would like to thank each and every one of you who has taken the time to respond to our questionnaires and to attend the open meetings, and look forward to seeing you at our next open meeting.
With best wishes,
Holwell Neighbourhood Plan Working Group members
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
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This is our first newsletter since the Neighbourhood Plan process got under way again at the end of last year. Since then we’ve held several open events at the village hall – two for residents to come and give us their views on how they’d like to see the village and, most recently, for residents to come and see the comments that had been made and to add to them if they wished.
We’re now at the stage of gathering evidence to support the proposals we’ll be developing for the plan, which will be consolidated from all residents’ input. As part of this process, you may have come across members of the Neighbourhood Planning team taking advantage of a few warm summer evenings to walk Holwell’s lanes. Since the village is spread over such a large area, exploring on foot has helped us to familiarise ourselves with parts of the village away from our own home areas.
We’re also planning to meet with local landowners including Sherborne Estates and Magna Housing Association, and are setting up small groups to work on specific topics such as housing, transport and amenities such as the village hall.
Several of you have volunteered to help us with this work which is really appreciated. We’re also receiving advice and support from the Neighbourhood Planning teams at Loders and Buckland Newton, as well as groups such as Dorset Community Action, West Dorset’s Housing Enabling team who came and talked about affordable housing at July’s Parish Council meeting, and the Community Development team who assisted us with our application for a grant from Locality. We’ve just heard that our application has been successful, which will allow us to appoint a planning consultant to help us with the next stages in the plan’s development.
The response from the village to our first open meetings was good, but we need more of you to tell us how you feel about Holwell and its future. So we’re planning a more detailed survey for September which will be delivered to every home in Holwell. We need each and every one of you to respond, so that we can ensure the policies we deliver for the plan truly reflect what the village wants.
If anything is unclear, please contact one of the Neighbourhood Planning team or a member of the Parish Council, who will be happy to help.
With best wishes
The Neighbourhood Plan Working Group