“Neighbourhood planning… sounds about as interesting as watching paint dry! ” – My exact thought on first hearing the term; surely you could say the same about anything introduced through an act of Parliament…
But then, the people talking about Neighbourhood Plans were not your everyday champions of Westminster; far from it. They were activists from Frome’s amazing flat-pack revolutionaries – the IfF. The location of this radical conversation – the Off Grid College at the Green Gathering; waiting for Bez, who failed to tell us about his ‘Reality Party ’…
The Localism Act? Sounds suspiciously like something appropriated from Rob Hopkins. Community Rights ? Well, I’m all for them. But what does this have to do with real community activism (or should that be ‘active communities’… I’m not too sure) …?
If IfF’s for it; it’s got to be worth checking out… right?
“So ”, I hear you ask: “what is Neighbourhood Planning? ” and, “what has it to do with Glastonbury? ” I guess these are the questions that I hope to explore in this post.
…It says here that “Neighbourhood Planning allows local residents and businesses to have their own planning policies in a Neighbourhood Plan that reflect their priorities, deliver tangible local benefits and have real weight in planning decisions.” Well, apart from the fact that I suspect anyone who doesn’t use an Oxford comma, it’s a promising, erudite start!
How exciting! We’ve already got a lighthouse!! So, does this really mean that you and I can make-up our own planning policies for the town!? Well… “Yes ” …is the simple answer. Or, to be more accurate: “Yes, but…” !
The bottom line is that: “planning policies are used to decide whether to approve planning applications.” Therefore, you can’t just be coming up with any-old-idea, or there’d be lighthouses simply everywhere!!! … Time to return to the expert advice; what does it say?
“Neighbourhood plans are:
- Written by the local community, the people who know and love the area, rather than the Local Planning Authority.
- A powerful tool to ensure the community gets the right types of development, in the right place.”
OK; but what has this got to do with Glastonbury?
Well, there has been quite a bit interest in Neighbourhood Planning over the last couple of years – it even became a ‘manifesto item’ during the town’s elections in May! The growing enthusiasm, coupled with the newly elected Town Council’s desire for strong participatory democracy resulted in the formation of a Neighbourhood Plan working group – made up of community members and councillors – which met over the summer, exploring what had happened in other areas; looking at the pros and cons; listening to the experiences of Frome, Wells, Ashcott, and St. Ives; finding out what worked and what did not…
A report was made. And by the beginning of October, Glastonbury Town Council had decided that it would like to give our community the opportunity to undertake a Neighbourhood Plan, and engage local people to set out a positive vision for how we want Glastonbury to flourish and develop over the next twenty years.
…And this blog will chart that process – and reflect on our progress; recording the journey of Glastonbury’s Neighbourhood Plan.
If you are interested in getting involved, or would like to find out more – do leave a comment, or drop me a line; I’d love to hear from you.
Glastonbury’s COM FUND project is supported by