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Neighbourhood Plan - FAQ

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Q: Why are we doing a Neighbourhood Plan?

A: The continuing swathe of speculative planning applications from speculative developers in Shiplake and surrounding areas led the parish council to discuss the desirability of residents being able to influence and shape the future development of the villages rather than developers. The government’s promotion of neighbourhood plans enables us to do this. Public meetings with residents in December and January 2017 supported this initiative and a Steering Group of residents was formed to develop such a plan.

Q: What is a Neighbourhood Plan

A: It is a plan, developed by residents and sponsored by the parish council, to meet the govt. approved housebuilding requirements of South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC), as represented in SODC’s Local Plan 2033. Basically, we agree a plan, which has to be approved by the government and agreed by a majority of residents, in a referendum, to build a minimum of 33 new houses, at agreed sites, in Shiplake parish boundaries by 2033. It is SODC’s intended policy of the new Local plan to determine planning decisions by reference to Neighbourhood Plans….unless other material considerations apply.

Q: Who is on the Steering Group and how was it set up?back to top

A: At a public meeting in January the parish council, as sponsor of the neighbourhood plan, invited volunteers to join the Steering Group to develop the plan on behalf of the whole community. The Chair and Steering Group Members are: Peter Boros (Chair), David Pheasant, David Bartholomew, Emer Bollinghaus, James Dalzell, Mick Reid, Susan Mann, Will Stevens, Marnie McKendrick, John Walker, Gareth Evans

Q: Who will make sure the plan represents the interests of the whole community?

A: Shiplake Parish Council is the designated authority sponsoring the plan, with a representative on the Steering Committee ensuring good governance and access to the necessary grants and funds to make the neighbourhood plan possible. The questionnaire, which we are asking all residents aged 18 or over to complete, seeks their views on many relevant facets of the villages, as it is now and how they would like to see it develop in the future, with a specific emphasis on housing requirements. The questionnaire has been reviewed by the SODC Neighbourhood Planning team. The parish council via public meetings and its website will provide updates and the opportunity to provide feedback on the developing plan. The proposed plan will be reviewed and approved by SODC and the government using an Independent Inspector/Examiner prior to a referendum, which will require a majority vote by residents for it to become an integral and mandatory part of the local planning process.

Q: Why are we doing a questionnaire?back to top

A: Neighbourhood plans are the opportunity for residents to shape the future of the villages in terms of housing and related infrastructure. We need to have an informed understanding of what the concerns, issues, requirements and preferences of residents are. A questionnaire is considered the best way to capture that information, which will be a key part of the body of evidence providing the basis of the recommendations of the neighbourhood plan.

Q: Will my information be handled confidentially?

A: It is important that residents have the opportunity to express their views on an anonymous basis. Names will not appear on the questionnaires at anytime. The volunteers distributing and collecting the questionnaires are residents themselves and conscious of this aspect of the questionnaire process. Once collected the questionnaires, without any identification, will be forwarded to the entity processing the questionnaires.

Q: Why am I being given more than one questionnaire?

A: We want to capture the broadest possible range of opinions of those who have the knowledge of the villages now and views on what kind of villages they want to see in the future. A questionnaire should be completed by all those of 18 years age or older in a household.

Q: How many people in the household can answer the questionnaire?

A: As many people as there are aged 18 years or older as of May 2017.

Q: Can I email the completed questionnaire back to you?back to top

A: No. It is difficult to reconcile the returns of completed questionnaires from multiple sources and email and website responses generally result in a lower level of returns; the more returns the better the plan will represent resident’s interests. In this context, it is also important that the questionnaire be returned on the date agreed with your collector in the order that the questionnaires are processed in one batch.

Q: What are the next steps?

A: The questionnaires will be analysed during June and the Steering Group will update residents on the results during July, principally via the Shiplake website. If you are not currently registered on the website, we recommend you complete the form at the back of the questionnaire, separate it from the questionnaire and give it to the collector, who will ensure it is forwarded to the website team for registration on its confidential list of users. You will then begin receiving updates automatically. The Steering Group will take account of your views as it continues to formulate recommendations for the neighbourhood plan.

Q: Why are there limitations on who can vote in the referendum?

A: Neighbourhood plans are government policy and become part of its planning framework when approved and voted on by the electorate. As such it is subject to the to the governments democratic procedures in these matters i.e. in this instance, registered electors in the designated area of the Shiplake Neighbourhood Plan.

Q: Why is the designated area of the Shiplake neighbourhood Plan based on the old parish boundaries?

A: Legally and logically, neighbourhood plans cannot overlap geographically. The Joint Henley & Harpsden Neighbourhood Plan (JHHNP) was based, developed and approved on the old pre-2014 parish boundaries. As with the Shiplake Villages Plan (SVP), we feel it is important to have the views of everybody who lives in what we refer to as ‘Shiplake’ and formulate our plans accordingly. In the referendum on our plan, the relatively small number of ‘Shiplake’ people who were eligible to vote in the JHHNP referendum will not be able to vote on the Shiplake Neighbourhood Plan. This does not diminish in anyway the importance of having their views taken account of in our plan.

Q: When will the plan be completed and how will I/we be kept informed of progress?

A: How quickly a neighbourhood plan can be developed depends on several factors, not least the commitment and industry of a Steering Group alongside the support it gets from residents and the parish council. It also is dependent on the period of time it takes for SODC and the government to assess and approve the plan, prior to a community referendum then voting in favour of its adoption. A plan can take over two years. Given the pressures we currently face from inappropriate speculative planning applications from developers, the Steering Group’s aim is to produce the Shiplake Neighbourhood Plan by Q1 of 2018. This is an ambitious timescale. We have the strong support of the parish council and with resident support it can be achieved. The SODC and Government approvals process may take a further 6 months but our body of evidence provided by the end of this year, we are told, will have weight in the planning process prior to its adoption.

Q: How can I make commentsback to top

A: A public exhibition was held on 3 and 4 November 2017, and the contents of the exhibition are now displayed on this web site as are some of the questions residents asked. Further comments may be made using the following email address NP2017@Shiplakevillages.com or questions may be raised also on the Forum.

Q: Has the 33 homes quota been met with the proposals?

A: Yes.

Q: Has the affordable housing quota/provision been met with the proposals?

A: Yes.

Q: Has the 33 quota had the houses ‘already built’ taken off?

A: Not yet. The NP Steering Group is awaiting confirmation of the process.

Q: Are the proposals going to be on the website?

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A: Yes, all the information presented at the Open Exhibition is already on the website. When the draft plan is nearer to completion it will be available on the website inviting resident’s comments.

Q: Where do we stand legally on Thames Farm and Wyevale sites and would Thames Farm impact on our NP?

A: Thames Farm and Wyevale are in Harpsden parish and cannot be taken into consideration. The NP Steering Group has no choice in this matter.

Q: Will change of use on the Shiplake Motors site increase the traffic on Station Road?

A: Not possible to make projections. A change from car repairs to residential might decrease traffic.

Q: Re the Plough Lane site, are the tenant farmers involved?

A: Yes, they are part of the discussion process.

Q: Re the Shiplake College buildings, are they going to be offered to others to rent/buy?

A: We are advised they will be for key workers and will also be available for rent on the open market from time to time.

Q: Why has the Gladman proposal come to the fore?

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A: If this is a reference to the appeal relating to the Eye & Dunsden parish and an application to build 245 houses, it has no bearing on the Shiplake NP.

Q: Why have we given up on the green gap between the villages?

A: We have not. The proposed NP is making every effort to preserve this as far as is practicable.

Q: Why couldn’t Sydney Harrison House have affordable terrace houses instead of 5 bedroom properties?

A: This is an extant permission relating to an application and project by SOHA – the NP steering Group has had no involvement with it. Work is scheduled to start in January.

Q: Backland infill newbuilds-are these to be excluded from the target?

A: The backland/infill sites are we are told by SODC to be INCLUDED in the calculations.

Q: I am worried that the Shared Space initiative will be dangerous?

A: Shared Spaces are not new, albeit that they have only recently started to be used in the UK. The Dutch for instance have been using them for decades now, and they are proven to be often much safer particularly with problem junctions such as that at Station Road. A viability study is to be commissioned as the next step of this proposal. This will produce initial designs and ensure that they meet with the latest safety standards and are fully safety tested and approved before any form of implementation is considered.

Q: Can we not build houses on the vacant land near the river?back to top

A: No land that is designated as flood plain cannot be developed with Housing for reasons of safety. The primary exception to this is the replacement of an existing dwelling.

Q: Have you considered schools?

A: This is an area we very much wanted to consider but confirmed to be outside of our mandate hence the Plan will only contain reference to problems and issues by way of an informative for higher authorities.

Q: How "watertight" is the target figure of 33?...given the uncertainty emanating from SODC and the increases being passed on to other PCs who either have completed or are in the process of completing NPs?

A: The answer to the 33 house target is that it is as certain as anything is with SODC at the moment.

The latest draft of the Local Plan refers to a minimum of 5% and the language they now use is ‘between 5 and 10%.’

Our site allocations and reserve list together with the number of extant consents/dwellings ought to cater for the 5% comfortably, and be not a million miles off if it does indeed extend out to 10%, assuming there are no causalities. There are 17 extant consents granted since 2011 to date. back to top

Q: A number of residents have raised the question about the selection of sites in and off of New Road and also at the same time raised concerns regarding the possibility of New Road becoming used as a route through to the Village Centre.

A: THIS IS AN UPDATED RESPONSE: As with all sites that have been considered, these sites were ranked by the entire Steering Group independently of each other and the scores then amalgamated.

Following review and approval by the Parish Council, we were then able to talk to land owners and a large number of sites had to be excluded at this stage because the owners would not be prepared to make those sites available.

Some sites fell within the ‘Green Gap’ which the vast majority of residents (83%),who responded to our questionnaire (over 700 responses), had said they wanted preserved and enhanced. This left comparatively few genuinely viable options to bring forwards whilst still achieving the target quota of new houses required by SODC.

What was selected therefore was what we considered to be the LEAST WORST OPTION, but which had the major benefit of providing a development line beyond which we would not expect development to go.

It should however be noted that sites 4/5, 7 and 8 are on the reserve list, with only site 6 on the recommended list.

It is also noteworthy that New Road is un-adopted but still a public right of way. This road has many existing houses that derive their access from it, which have been built sporadically over time some newer some older.

It does not therefore follow that :

  1. all of these plots will be developed during the life of the plan,
  2. if developed in part or indeed all of these sites, New Road will be resurfaced or widened. That is a matter for the owners of the road and the Highway Authority. The NP is not proposing a change to the status or nature of the road.

Given the sensitivity of this specific location to a small number of residents who have objected and suggesting that the SG have chosen greenfield land over brownfield land at Mill Road we have referred the issue to SODC for guidance.

The quantum of brownfield land is quite small in extent, being occupied currently by some disused farm buildings. The SG’s view that any significant development would be a significant breach of the ‘Green Gap’ policy and a precedent inviting further infill development generally.

Site 6 is also brownfield being a former quarry pit which is believed to have then been the subject of tipping and is as such likely to also be contaminated.

SODC agree with the approach adopted by the SG particularly in relation to the proposed Development Boundaries and the desire of the large majority of residents to ensure that development only takes place within the existing settlements or right on the edge thereof.

We needed to have some contingency to guard against some of the recommended sites not coming forwards as expected hence providing for a reserve list of sites to ensure that the plan is robust in terms of achieving the desired number of units.

New Road is also the only location where a very large number of residents responding to the questionnaire (c 80) specified a possible location where development might be acceptable. It is also important to note that OCC as the Highway Authority are not objecting to development of site 6 and have confirmed approval for up to 7 houses. Furthermore, there is no requirement from them to undertake any upgrading works to New Road if the development were to be permitted, only very local work to ensure adequacy of sight lines etc.

The full Management Report of the questionnaire results - produced by an independent body will be available later in January 2018 for verification of the recommendations made, and will be published in full on this web site.

When the draft NP is substantially together, it together with the evidence base upon which it has been prepared will be available online, as a formal consultation Draft so that residents may see the basis of selection, and criteria used in context.

The SG also intend to hold a public meeting at that time to give residents the opportunity to put forwards any further questions or concerns. back to top

Q: How many objections have there been to the NP following the exhibition?

A: Residents will be aware that there were over 300 attendees at the exhibition in November, and that some 73% of residents then indicated support for the proposals put forwards.

Since then we have received a small number of written objections: -

  • 11 properties/owners (who also attended the exhibition) have objected to the designations of development land in New Road,
  • 1 party has objected to the whole of the Plan proposals,
  • 1 party has commented on the proposed referendum mechanics suggesting separate ones for each village.

Q: What are the Neigbbourhood Plan's Governance Procedures?

A: Please click here for a copy of governance procedures including a summary of benefits and issues related to the Neighbourhood plan. back to top

Q: What is Brownfield and Greenfield Land, and what is the significance of these different categories?

A:This is a good question and one over which significant discussion has taken place because it is something that people refer to in day to day language, but which actually has a clear and defined meaning under the governments national guidelines. This guidance may be found here.

This glossary of terms was published in 2012 as part of what is known as the National Planning Policy Framework, and the paragraph which refers to ‘Previously Developed Land’ being their words for Brownfield, is therein defined and repeated verbatim below.

“Previously developed land

Land which is or was occupied by a permanent structure, including the curtilage of the developed land (although it should not be assumed that the whole of the curtilage should be developed) and any associated fixed surface infrastructure. This excludes: land that is or has been occupied by agricultural or forestry buildings; land that has been developed for minerals extraction or waste disposal by landfill purposes where provision for restoration has been made through development control procedures; land in built-up areas such as private residential gardens, parks, recreation grounds and allotments; and land that was previously-developed but where the remains of the permanent structure or fixed surface structure have blended into the landscape in the process of time.”

This definition is important in Planning matters because the redevelopment of so called brownfield sites are of a higher priority to redevelop than green ones. The rules are not absolute, but they provide useful guidance all other things being equal.

Q: Provision of clarification from the Government regarding Quarrys and Brownfield designation

A: See letter here (and also in Neighbourhood Plan - Documentation page.

Q: What is the detailed breakdown of voting expressing support or otherwise that took place at the public exhibition in November 2017.?

A: There were 325 recorded attendees at the exhibition and 273 comment forms issued with 265 forms returned. Below is the breakdown of respondents shown as between the 2 villages. 18 forms of those issued were returned without any vote, 8 from Lower Shiplake 3 from Shiplake Cross and 7 non residents. There were also a small number of don't knows.

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