Recent legislation has provided both encouragement and a legal framework for the creation of neighbourhood forums as vehicles for the communication of ideas and opinions with regard to the future physical development of their location. The idea is that these groups will work with the broader community to draft a development plan for the relevant area which will inform all planning decisions during the life of the plan.
These groups must be sponsored by the relevant Parish Council, where one exists and, in 2014, the Ripley Parish Council took the initiative to begin the creation of a Ripley Neighbourhood Plan Group (RNPG). This body has undertaken to initiate a Neighbourhood Plan for Ripley but, at the suggestion of Colin Cross, the Borough Councillor for Lovelace Ward, the RNPG has agreed to work with the other two parishes which make up Lovelace Ward to put together a Neighbourhood Plan for the ward as a whole. The combined body will be called the Lovelace Neighbourhood Plan Group.
The other two parishes are Ockham and Wisley. The Ockham Neighbourhood Plan Group has been established by the Ockham Parish Council. Wisley does not have a parish council, so the Wisley Forum has been established as a result of the combined actions of the Royal Horticultural Society and the residents of Wisley village.
2 Why Have a Neighbourhood Plan?
There is a specific process laid down in legislation for the creation of a Neighbourhood Plan. This involves a considerable amount of effort to ensure that the plan is genuinely the product of all those who have a stake in the relevant area, including local businesses, local organisations, those who work there and, particularly, those who live there.
It is therefore the best way to ensure, as far as possible, that the planning framework for Lovelace reflects the views of the residents of Ripley, Ockham and Wisley, which recent events strongly suggest, is not the case with the new draft Guildford Local Plan.
Once completed, the plan will be submitted to the Planning Department at Guildford who will consult on the plan, check that the procedures have been properly followed and have it independently examined. This process is outlined in more detail in Section 6 below. Once this is complete, the Borough Council must conduct a referendum on the Final version of the Plan among the Ripley stakeholders. If it is approved by this referendum, the Borough is bound to accept it and from then on, for the life of the plan (usually 15 years) it becomes a key reference document for all planning decisions in the area.
3 Purpose and Objectives of the Lovelace Plan Group
The primary objective of the Lovelace Neighbourhood Plan Group (LNPG) be to produce a Neighbourhood Plan for the ward. This will reflect the ideas and opinions of the residents of the area and will provide a framework for stimulating the social and environmental well-being of the area and for ensuring that any physical development within the ward meets the requirements of the people who live there, as far as this is possible within the broad requirements laid down by the Local Plan for the Borough of Guildford.
4 Plan Group Structure and Working
Ripley Parish Council as the sponsoring parish council has appointed a Chairman of the LNPG. Each parish has set up its own subsidiary plan group to deal with issues affecting their area. Their task is to ensure that they reflect a broad spectrum of views and interests.
The ultimate size of each parish plan group will be up to the members to decide but each of these will contribute three parish plan group representatives to represent them on the LNPG Steering Committee. The Steering Committee will also elect a Secretary and a Treasurer, so that the maximum number of the Committee will be twelve.
Each parish forum may change their nominated LPG representatives at any time, subject to notice in advance to the LNPG Secretary. LNPG meetings will take place once a month.
Decisions will be taken, where necessary, by member’s vote, being carried by a simple majority. The Chair will have a casting vote. Any parish group may veto any proposal which has a direct bearing on development within that parish.
The process to be followed to achieve an accepted Neighbourhood Plan is outlined in the Neighbourhood Planning Regulations and the National Planning Policy Guidance and summarised in Section 6. The LNPG will follow this process, will aim to have the process completed during 2016.
5 Financial Management
The Guildford Borough have approved the Lovelace Neighbourhood Plan Group boundary and the LNPG has already received a grant of £1,900 from the Community Development Foundation to cover the incidental costs of the process. Guildford Borough have also appointed a Planning Officer to help guide the group through the process required to get the Lovelace Plan approved.
The Treasurer will report to the Plan Group on the spending of this money and will be responsible for negotiating further funds from government bodies and other organisations, as necessary. This will be done through Ripley Parish Council which will hold and disburse funds on behalf of the LNPG and act as the lead parish council for this purpose.
Members will not be paid and only claim expenses for disbursements made specifically for, and at the request of, the LNPG.