Ropley Neighbourhood Plan
UPDATE JUNE 2019.
After four years of questionnaires, consultations and meetings, the Ropley Neighbourhood Plan is approaching its final hurdle – the village wide Public Referendum.
Since the last update the plan has been through an independent examination by a planning professional appointed by EHDC to ensure that the proposed plan meets all the legal requirements set out by the Neighbourhood Planning legislation. This examination resulted in changes being made to the plan to meet the requirements of the legislation and national planning policy. There have been two significant changes made to the plan, as follows:
• The policy covering gaps between settlements has been modified to reflect the national planning guidance to adopt a positive approach to development. The original RNP1 policy in the plan submitted to EHDC provided a map with settlement and coalescence gaps defined along field, path and road boundaries, and prohibited development within those gaps. The examiner found that some of these gaps were too large in size and required that the policy be changed such that “Development proposals should ensure the retention of the open character ..” between settlements.
• Three of the five areas proposed as Local Green Spaces were removed from the plan. The spaces removed were LGS 2 – the field behind Vicarage Lane between the Recreation Ground and Ropley House, LGS3 – the field to the west of School Lane and Church Lane, and LGS5 – the field to the south of Vicarage Lane and to the west of Hammonds Lane. The examiner felt that the plan had failed to show that these three spaces were “demonstrably special to a local community and holds a particular local significance” as required by the National Policy Planning Framework (NPPF).
There were also a number of less significant changes to the plan, however our retained planning consultant, who has advised the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group throughout the plan development process, feels that the plan has survived the examination relatively intact.
Full details of the changes are contained in the Examiners Report which can be found, together with the Referendum Issue of the Neighbourhood Plan, supporting documentation from the examination and details of the referendum on the EHDC web site by following this link:
As with the earlier public consultations on the Neighbourhood Plan, hard copies will be available for inspection at the Ropley Courtyard village shop, Alresford library and Boundaries and Mansfield Park surgeries.
We will also be holding a public meeting in the Ropley Village Hall at 7.30pm on Thursday 4th July where we will present the final plan including all the changes made as a result of the examination.
The referendum will be held on Thursday 11th July and is very similar in form to the District Council elections that took place in May. You will shortly receive polling cards, you can apply for postal or proxy votes, and voting will take place in the village hall from 7am until 10pm. The question on the voting form will be “Do you want East Hampshire District Council to use the Neighbourhood plan for Ropley to help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area?”, and offers a “Yes” or “No” response.
While the changes made to the plan as a result of the examination are disappointing, the Steering Group feel that the plan retains much of the protection originally proposed, and that the village will be enhanced by having an adopted Neighbourhood Plan.
Where can the plan proposal be inspected?
What is a Neighbourhood Plan?
It is a community-led project for guiding the future development, regeneration and conservation of an area. It is not a tool to prevent development and it will not affect planning applications that have already been submitted. It may contain visions, aims, planning policies and proposals for improving the area or providing new facilities, or allocation of key sites for specific kinds of development, or preventing specific types of development in specific locations.
Neighbourhood Plans have statutory authority. This gives them far more weight than some other local documents, such as parish plans, community plans and village design statements, and local authorities or planning inspectors have to make decisions on the basis of the polices contained in the Neighbourhood Plan.The scope and complexity of a plan can vary. It could be wide-ranging, or deal with just one or two issues only. We’ve gone for just one issue to start with, housing. This is to play catch-up and tie in with EHDC publishing their new planning policy, due in December 2015. Over the life of the plan there will be a continuing requirement to update it. It’s a living document. There are also other areas to branch out into, like education, transport and other infrastructure. Settlements that have a Neighbourhood Plan can directly influence how infrastructure funding is spent, benefiting from an increase to 25% (from 15%) of the Community Infrastructure Levy revenues from any relevant development that takes place in their area.
Why bother with a Neighbourhood Plan
We could leave everything to the EHDC planners in Penns Place. But beware; many of the surrounding villages to Ropley are already working on producing their own Neighbourhood Plans. Any villages or settlements without one are more at risk of future over development and less able to influence future housing allocations and infrastructure development.