Whitchurch is in the process of producing a Neighbourhood Plan as well as a Community Plan, as supported by a high proportion of residents.
In the last weeks we have received draft copies of the Site Environmental Assessment Report (SEA) plus the draft Design Code. Comments have been collated and returned. The SEA along with the technical assessment of each site, which at the time of writing is still outstanding, will help us to determine the most suitable site/s for Whitchurch in conjunction with the policies that have been discussed at the village consultations. We hope to receive the technical assessment soon. Work has also been carried out with regard to finalising additional protection n to our valued green spaces.
In November we were advised that a new housing target for the village would be determined soon, but it has since been made clear to the steering group that Buckinghamshire County Council will not be in a position to provide us with the definitive number of new homes that Whitchurch is expected to provide – for some time. The creation of a Local Plan for Buckinghamshire, that will ultimately replace the Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan, is a long way into the future. As a result of this we will have conversations soon with planning officers to work through this topic. In order for the NP to be successfully adopted it not only has to be approved by residents, it also has to be acceptable to Buckinghamshire. Our aim remains to secure the best possible outcome for the village, but the official designation of Whitchurch as a large village, by dint of its services not its population, will keep these conversations challenging.
It is important to keep i mind that the successful creation and adoption of a Neighbourhood Plan is the only way we can control where and what type of housing is built in the village. We will bring you further updates as we draw these processes to a conclusion.
FEBRUARY 2022 UPDATE:
We might have been quiet recently, but a lot is happening in the background.
We are still waiting for confirmation from Buvkinghamshire County Council of the housing numbers planned for Whitchurch following the adoption of the Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan (VALP) in the autumn. We had anticipated having this number before Christmas but we are hopeful it will be confirmed very soon.
Housing Needs Assessment
This has now been completed by an external agency, all part of the expertise paid for by the grant that covers all the Neighbourhood Plan work. It has confirmed the need for more smaller family homes in particular and is in line with feedback received from residents during the consultation process. This will help us to plan for the right types of houses as part of the N P.
On a cold and wet December afternoon Cllr Mel Perry and Neighbourhood Plan Chair Keith Armour spent several hours walking the length and breadth of the village with experts from Aecom, looking at the style of buildings that make up our village. Once complete the Design Code will help shape the style of buildings that might be built in the future under the Whitchurch Neighbourhood PLan.
Our analysis of the green spaces within Whitchurch is now close to finalisation so that recommendations can be made about any that should be included within the eventual Whitchurch Neighbourhood Plan.
Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Report
This report, again produced by our consultants is being worked on and looks at the possible impacts of the emerging Whitchurch Neighbourhood Plan, compliance with policies and will help us to understand and evaluate the relative merits or otherwise of the various sites that are under consideration for inclusion.
Once all the repoirts are complete, we will, with the input of our consultants be able to evaluate each site against the policies that you have all fed into and arrive at a draft proposal with numbers, types,locations and styles of houses clearly defined. These draft proposals will then go to the independent inspector for examination and approval. If approved the draft will be put to the village in a referendum.
The next few months are going to be very busy for the team and we will update Whitchurch residents as we edge ever closer to the end of the process and an eventual village referendum.
DONE – Housing Needs Assessment
AWAITED – Bucks C C/VALP planned housing numbers.
– Design Code
– NP Group’s finalisation of Green Spaces
– Strategic Environmental Assessment Report (SEA)
AFTER WHICH – completed reports received = evaluation of those against each land site, then becomes draft proposal for examination. Leads to draft proposals for independent inspector’s examination. if approved, then the draft will be put to the village in a referedum.
DECEMBER 2021 update:
· The Neighbourhood Plan is in the process of agreeing key documents which are being worked on by Aecom supported by the group.
· Currently there is a draft Housing Needs Assessment and Scoping document, both of which are being evaluated by the group with comments to be completed shortly.
· The Scoping document will lead to a formal Strategic and Environmental Assessment (SEA) of all sites for inclusion in the Plan.
· A Housing and Development design code is underway.
Both the SEA and Design Code are not expected to be completed until February 2022.
Thank you to everyone who came to the November meetings.
Queries to: email@example.com
Below are some topics that were raised:
Why are we developing a Neighbourhood Plan?
A Neighbourhood Plan allows the village significant new control over the future location, number and types of housing development in the parish until 2040.
How does the plan get approved?
An independent Government Inspector must approve the final draft Whitchurch Neighbourhood Plan to ensure compliance before it can be put to the residents on the Parish electoral register to vote Yes or No. If YES it will be formally adopted into local planning regulations.
How is the Neighbourhood Plan being developed in our parish?
Grants from Central Government were received. In spring of 2021 all landowners were contacted to understand where land might be available. In July of 2021 a series of meetings were held to share these sites with residents. Site owners were then asked to provide initial ideas as to what type of homes they propose to build and were shared with the village in four meetings in November 2021.
Who else is involved?
All the sites that choose to submit outline plans will be subject to expert technical, strategic and environmental assessment. This comes from Buckinghamshire Council, Locality, Aecom, Historic England, Natural England and the Environment Agency amongst others.
What type and style of homes will be built?
A housing ‘code’ will be part of the plan. We anticipate houses built in a predominantly traditional style using traditonal materials.
A formal housing survey is being conducted but smaller, affordable and downsizing homes are anticipated as the main focus.
Who decides how many houses we are expected to build?
The VALP (Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan) was finally adopted by Buckinghamshire Council in the autumn of 2021 and it is anticipated that Whitchurch will have a formal new homes target set by Buckingham Council before the end of 2021.
What is a settlement boundary and why does it matter?
Once the sites for inclusion in the plan have been decided a settlement boundary will be drawn around both exiting houses and all allocated new site/s. The
have one today.
Who decides where the houses get built?
The Neighbourhood Plan process take inputs from the technical assessments as to the appropriateness and suitability of each site in the process and will also take into account the policies that all the consultations have helped to form with regard to the style, size and location of new homes within the village. An independent examiner will ensure all processes have been followed and that the necessary evidence exists. The Neighbourhood Plan put to the village will include specific new proposed sites.
A Neighbourhood Plan is always a YES/NO vote for those sites and does not propose different optons.
How will the school cope with the extra numbers?
Approx. 4 out of 10 of pupils in Whitchurch Combined School live out of Parish. If there were more school aged children in the village over time there would be more village children in the school.
To what extent can the Neighbourhood Plan seek to improve the existing infrastructure, facilities and amenties in the village?
A Neighbourhood Plan is a specific type of plan that is concerned with the building of new homes or premises and can also provide additional protection for important green spaces. Once adopted a Neighbourhood Plan becomes part of planning law, but as such it can only relate to issues that involve planning consent. Volume and speed of traffic through the village is a big issue, but whilst the highways authority will oversee access to any new developments, The Neighbourhood Plan can’t demand general improvements to the local highway network. Once final sites have been identified discussions will take place with landowners/developers and where appropriate the group will seek support for such traffic management measures that might be appropriate and permitted by highways.
7th November 2021 – having held our four public consultations with residents this week – it was great to see so many of you, and to hear your questions – here are electronic copies of both the files we produced for you:
Please complete this file in Microsoft Word:
Should you wish to email us your completed questionnaire, please send to: firstname.lastname@example.org by 14th November 2021. THANK YOU!
1st NOVEMBER, 2021 – we have reached the stage of second public consultations with you, our Whitchurch electorate. We cannot stress enough, how important it is that you join us, to give us feedback on sites under consideration for building, of what type, and how many. (some have submitted changes since we last showed them to you). We will also ask you for your feedback on policies to help protect the nature in Whitchurch.
Please email email@example.com to book your seat/s for one of these sessions:
Session 1: Thursday 4th November at 6pm
Session 2: Thursday 4th November at 7:30pm
Session 3: Sunday 7th November at 1.30pm
Session 4: Sunday 7th November at 3pm.
Thank you to the more than 150 residents who attended the two recent public consultation meetings held on Thursday 22nd July and Sunday 25th July. The feedback that you all gave us is incredibly helpful as further input into our policy document. We will be keeping you informed, regularly, and we will run our next public consultation meetings on Thursday November 4th and Sunday November 7th. Please keep the dates and keep an eye on this page, as well as the Whitchurch News for more details.
Why a Neighbourhood Plan for Whitchurch?
A: We know from the 2019 village questionnaire that there is significant frustration and even anger around ongoing development in the village. Residents repeatedly object to new planning applications, but without an adopted Neighbourhood Plan (NP), the planning authorities can only review each application “on its own merits” and against strict planning criteria. Hence new developments keep being approved.
The argument that as a village we have taken our fair share of additional housing has not, and will not, protect us from new development as is clear from all the new housing that has been built or approved in the past two years alone. The need for additional housing at a national and at a county level is overriding and simply saying “no” to development in Whitchurch will not stop it from happening. A Whitchurch Neighbourhood Plan is our way out of the never-ending cycle of planning applications, village objections and disappointment.
Once adopted a NP becomes the key tool the planning authorities will look to when making decisions on proposed plans within the village. NPs have a legal standing within the planning framework. Having a NP allows village residents to have our voices heard as to where in the village is deemed most appropriate to new housing development, along with types of housing and the amount that is considered appropriate to the needs of the village in future years.
What land has been put forward by landowners for consideration?
A : Click on this link to see the sites that have been forward by landowners for consideration:
(Should the map open at the wrong angle on your hardware, please right click on it, then select rotate clockwise until it is the right way.)
What is the latest status?
By August 31st all landowners wanting a site to be considered within a future Whitchurch NP must provide initial sketch plans including the number and types of houses, alongside practical issues including access and traffic management. These sites will soon go through an independent Site Environmental Assessment (SEA) which evaluates each site to assess appropriateness and viability. Historic England, Natural England, the Environment Agency and Buckinghamshire Council are all involved. At the end of the SEA process each site will have in-effect a red, amber or green viability status. This will help in selection of the most suitable site(s) for the Neighbourhood Plan, alongside a policy document which is work-in-progress.
What is the process?
A : Click on this link to understand more: 2021 July NP Summary
Do I get a vote?
A : All of the electorate will get a yes/no vote on whether to adopt a finally proposed Whitchurch Neighbourhood Plan. We anticipate that will be in Q2 2022.