News is published both within this page and in the WASNAV (Wollaston and Strixton News and Views) publication.
Visit the following section of the site for news relating to Neighbourhood Planning.
Latest WASNAV article (March 2014)
The Neighbourhood Plan. Influencing the future development of Wollaston (March 2014 - as published in WASNAV)
Neighbourhood planning is an opportunity for the people of Wollaston to influence the future development of the Parish. We want to ensure that Wollaston remains a village and that our community is in a strong position to decide where development takes place over the next 15 years or so. Without a neighbourhood plan, Wollaston will remain vulnerable to developers or land owners being granted planning permission for housing sites of a size, or in a location around the village, that are not supported by a majority of residents.
Disappointing response to the questionnaire: Last November we distributed a questionnaire to all households in the Parish to help us to understand the level of support for a range of issues raised by members of our community during earlier consultation and through information gathered from sources such as the local authorities, businesses, and land owners. The information has provided very valuable feedback - many thanks to those who returned the questionnaire. We were, however, disappointed that only 20% of households responded. Does this indicate a lack of interest, a timing issue being close to Christmas or just general apathy? We hope it is a timing issue, but understand that we need to try harder to encourage a greater level of interest. As we continue to prepare the Neighbourhood Plan, the community will be consulted again.
This will be YOUR plan and eventually YOU will be asked to adopt it in a referendum.
Questionnaire feedback: We are now analysing the responses. In addition, we are considering responses, or awaiting replies, from the highway authority, the utility companies and others regarding the site options included in the questionnaire. All of this information will have a bearing on the most suitable sites to include in the Neighbourhood Plan. We hope to be in a position to hold a public meeting in April to tell you about the results of the questionnaire and feedback that we have had from other sources. Early analysis of the questionnaire reveals a need to clarify several points about what the Neighbourhood Plan can and cannot do:
Can the Neighbourhood Plan be used to prevent development in Wollaston? Some responses included strong statements that Wollaston is full and there should be no more development! As we have stated in previous articles, "No Development" is not an option. The Neighbourhood Plan cannot conflict with the strategic policies in the North Northamptonshire Core Spatial Strategy (CSS). Whilst the CSS does not contain any housing numbers for Wollaston, it is under review and is expected to include a figure when public consultation takes place in the spring.
The Wollaston housing needs survey in 2012 indicated a need for 39 new homes by 2017 and we anticipate that the CSS will include a figure of at least 160 homes between 2011 and 2031. Whilst the Parish Council, a group or an individual will be able to comment on the CSS, the Neighbourhood Plan must provide for the number of homes specified in the CSS or a higher figure. Approximately 70% of people who responded to the questionnaire wanted the housing figure to be kept to the minimum requirement in the CSS and the Steering Group will therefore work towards this as part of the Neighbourhood Plan.
Why were only some possible development sites included in the questionnaire? We can only include sites in the Neighbourhood Plan if they will be available for development. Land owners were therefore asked to inform the Steering Group of any land that they would wish to make available. All of the sites put forward for consideration were shown on the map in the questionnaire.
How is funding secured from developers to provide for the cost of infrastructure? Section 106 agreements, also known as planning obligations, are made between developers and local planning authorities as part of a condition of planning consent and can relate to the provision of infrastructure and services where these are made necessary by the development; related to the development and reasonably related in scale. They might be used to ensure that a development is in line with Council policies e.g. by requiring a proportion of affordable housing; mitigate the impacts of a development e.g. by contributing to the extension of a local school to provide for families moving into a new development; or compensate for loss or damage caused by a development e.g. by replacing wildlife habitat or open space which is to be built on. Following legislative changes, local authorities now have the power to scale back the use of planning obligations by adopting a Community Infrastructure Levy.
The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) enables standard charges to be applied to many new developments, including single new homes, to ensure that they contribute towards the cumulative impact of development across an area. It is used to provide for strategic infrastructure, such as a major road or a sports centre that would attract people from across a local authority area. A CIL would be complemented by the continued use of S106 agreements to fund infrastructure required to directly mitigate the impact of a particular development. The fixed rates to be levied must be published in a charging schedule. A major benefit of the CIL to our local community is that 15% of the money raised would be passed to the Parish Council to decide where it should be spent. This figure would increase to 25% once we have the Neighbourhood Plan.
Introduction of a CIL is, however, discretionary and therefore a matter for the local authority to decide. In the case of Wellingborough, the Development Committee of the Borough Council was set to discuss a draft charging schedule at a meeting on 4th February 2014. The report suggests that the draft schedule should be the subject of public consultation by the Borough Council and that a levy of £100/m² should be applied to residential development in Wollaston.
At the same meeting, the Committee will consider guidance intended to set out the Council’s approach to securing contributions and clarify the types of infrastructure or projects that will benefit from which mechanism (i.e. CIL or a S106 agreement).
What role might the Neighbourhood Plan play in resolving parking and traffic problems? Parking and traffic problems are clearly a major concern of many people in Wollaston. It may be possible to address some of these concerns as part of the Neighbourhood Plan and we will need to meet with the highway authority to discuss these issues.
The poor condition of pavements, cars parked on pavements, the enforcement of speed limits and poor street lighting are, however, examples of issues that we are unlikely to be able to address in the Neighbourhood Plan. Nevertheless, such matters are under constant review and attention by the Parish Council in its day to day activities and we will therefore inform the Parish Council of the comments that we have received. In respect of street lighting, however, it is expected that in October of this year all of the lights in Wollaston owned by the County Council will be upgraded with the latest eco- friendly lights and switched on again.
Can a gym be provided in Wollaston? A number of respondents have asked if a gym could be provided in the village. It is likely that this would need to be a commercial venture. Whilst we will consider how the Neighbourhood Plan might be used to encourage provision, a gym is only likely to be provided if a developer is satisfied that there is sufficient demand to justify the investment.