At the beginning of 2011, Buckland Newton Parish Council decided to start on the preparation of a Neighbourhood Plan for the parish. A Working Group was set up of both Parish Councillors and other Parishioners who were interested in taking part in this project. The area for our Neighbourhood Plan was approved in February 2013 and covers the whole of the Civil Parish of Buckland Newton.A Neighbourhood Plan will allow us, as a community, to decide what happens in our own Parish in the future (within certain limits and parameters). These plans will be used to decide the future of the places where you live and work, and can include giving opportunities to:•choose where you want new homes, shops and offices to be built•have your say on what new buildings should look like•grant planning permission for the new buildings you want to see go ahead.
Buckland Newton Parish Plan
After further discussion in October 2011, the Parish Council agreed to additionally prepare a Parish Plan at the same time as the Neighbourhood Plan. These would jointly be called the Buckland Newton Community Plan. Parish Plans differ from Neighbourhood Plans, in that they deal with topics not covered by the Planning Acts and Regulations. There is no set format, and can cover whatever needs, hopes and issues the Parishioners wish. These can include, for example: • Speeding traffic• Dog fouling • Sports facilities• Grass cutting • Broadband speed• Recycling facilities • Clearing footpaths• Youth clubs • Transport to doctor• Allotments A typical Parish Plan lists the parishioners’ issues that have been identified and include a realistic action plan and timetable to try to resolve them wherever possible. The Parish Plan for Buckland Newton was completed in Autumn 2013 and approved by the Parish Council. It can be downloaded as a pdf file by clicking the link or on www.dorsetforyou.com
’ page and then review the contents of the ‘Proposed Sites’ and ‘Local Issues’ pages. Please then record your thoughts on Neighbourhood Plan Mission StatementLike other Neighbourhood Plans being drawn up, we have a 'Mission Statement' and 'Strategic Objectives' to help guide the direction and content of our Plan.
"To maintain Buckland Newton Parish as a thriving rural community, and to ensure its long term future by working towards meeting the needs of those who live and work in this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty."
•To aim to meet diverse local housing needs taking into account changing demographics and social requirements•To keep housing development to a small scale, designed to a high quality which is sustainable and is complementary to neighbouring properties•To support existing business, encourage new enterprises and facilities which will enhance commercial effectiveness and employment opportunities•To preserve the long term future of the area by retaining and, if possible, enhancing local services and facilities, promoting a safe and healthy community•To protect and enhance the natural and built environment of the Parish including its landscape, built heritage, archaeological sites and wildlife habitats.• To reduce vulnerability to the impact of severe weather i.e. flooding, etc
Current situation (February 2017)
Following correspondence from West Dorset District Council on the 20th January 2017, the Parish Council resolved at its meeting on the 14th February 2017 to submit a report responding to the issues raised by the previous Examiner, Ann Skippers, who resigned for personal reasons last September, with the objective of continuing the examination.West Dorset District Council will now “attempt to recruit a new examiner signposting all currently available information (your submission material, the letters from the previous examiner and your legal opinion). (It) will also highlight that additional information has been submitted in response to the previous examiner’s letters and let the new examiner decide whether they are willing to consider this or not.”The Parish Council is optimistic that a new examiner can be found and appointed who will be willing to consider the submitted material so that the examination can now proceed. In the unlikely situation a new Examiner cannot be found we may have to consider going back to the stage where we were in May 2015 and redo the Statutory Public Consultation, but this will require further grant funding and could delay the plan by several more months.The submitted Report, together with the Summary of the Legal Opinion and the Full Legal Opinion can be seen on the Submitted Documents page.
Current situation (December 2016)
Our progress forward has temporarily stalled as the Independent Examiner (IE), appointed to examine our Neighbourhood Plan, resigned unexpectedly for personal reasons. She did however raise an issue of process before resigning, objecting to our holding a supplementary Public Consultation covering minor changes that were proposed AFTER and as a result of our big May/July 2015 Statutory Public Consultation in the village.These related to the change of status of the allotments to a ‘Community facility’, and to changes due to government policy on affordable housing. In her view, our Statutory Public Consultation had to be the final consultation, subsequent supplementary ones being illegal, and as such we should withdraw the plan, hold another Statutory Public Consultation and resubmit.We believe this goes against the whole ethos of neighbourhood planning, which is meant to be a community driven, democratic process. It seems perverse that we could not check with the parishioners that any proposed changes to the plan were acceptable to them.We could not find the Independent Examiner’s interpretation in the Neighbourhood Planning regulations, and unfortunately West Dorset District Council (WDDC) are extremely risk averse and thus chose to go with the IE’s interpretation.In view of this we obtained a legal opinion from a specialist planning barrister. As part of his opinion he stated:“....I find it difficult to identify any difficulty that arises from the process adopted by the PC (Parish Council). Indeed, they were attempting to give opportunity for further public involvement rather than curtailing or prejudicing it. Only one person responded and that response was not directly related to the changes proposed and consulted upon. It does seem a disproportionate response in my view to suggest that this supplementary consultation therefore vitiates the consultation process and the submission NP cannot therefore be lawfully examined. On the facts as I understand them, I find such a conclusion to be difficult to justify.”There is a number of possible ways we can proceed. We had a meeting with WDDC planning officers on the 16th December 2016, hoping to agree a way forward. Unfortunately the WDDC officers, despite having had the legal opinion for 10 days, wanted the opinion of their own legal department on that opinion and that will not happen until early in 2017.Thus we have currently reached a hiatus, and are now waiting for WDDC to restart a dialogue with us.
What is Neighbourhood Planning?
The Localism Act 2011 introduced statutory Neighbourhood Planning in England. It enables communities to draw up a Neighbourhood Plan for their area and is intended to give communities more of a say in the development of their local area (within certain limits and parameters). These plans will be used to decide the future of the places where you live and work. Once a Plan has been finalised it will have to be checked by an Independent Examiner to make sure it complies with the District Council Local Plan and any National Policies. There will then be a referendum of all the Parish Electors, and if a majority vote in favour of the Plan it will be adopted as part of the Local Plan.The Strategic Environmental Assessment Screening Report is now included on this website. Click above to view.See more at: www.mycommunityrights.org.uk/neighbourhood-planning
Parish and Neighbourhood Planning
The Parish Council took into account the comments and representations received from both parishioners and statutory consultees in the public consultations in 2015, and made and agreed final amendments to the draft neighbourhood plan.The Parish Council submitted this draft plan, along with the required supporting documentation, to West Dorset District Council in January 2016. Ms Ann Skippers was appointed as Independent Examiner in April 2016 to test whether or not the draft neighbourhood plan meets the basic conditions, and other matters set out in paragraph 8 of Schedule 4B to the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended). She did not start her examination until July 2016.