Our Town – Our Community – Our Plan

The Glastonbury Neighbourhood Plan’s first consultation event happened over two days – Friday 14th October (from 6 pm to 9 pm) and Saturday 15th October (from 9.30 am to 2 pm).

Crowds of people attend the consultation [photograph by Kevin Redpath].
Residents, retailers, and business owners were invited to visit an exhibition at Glastonbury Town Hall, and share their thoughts on Glastonbury’s future development – including St. Dunstan’s House (a Grade II listed building next to the Town Hall, recently bought by the Town Council).

People are invited to write their ideas on the walls of St. Dunstan’s House [photograph by Kevin Redpath].
People are invited to write their ideas on the walls of St. Dunstan’s House [photograph by Kevin Redpath].
In addition to the main consultation, the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group invited a team from the Nationwide to join the event, as part of the Building Society’s own consultation on whether or not to opening a new branch to Glastonbury.

‘Nationwide to attend consultation’ from the Central Somerset Gazette, 6th October 2016.
‘Nationwide to attend consultation’ from the Central Somerset Gazette, 6th October 2016.
Nationwide Building Society staff engage with the community.
Nationwide Building Society staff engage with the community.

With over five hundred people from Glastonbury and outlying villages attending, the consultation was a deemed a great success.  Glastonbury’s Neighbourhood Planning officer, Gerard Tucker said, “The response was fantastic and our pin-boards – and the white walls of St Dunstan’s House – were filled with creative suggestions about our environment, housing, recreational and green spaces.

Neighbourhood Plan officer, Gerard Tucker showing residents the District Council Local Plan development maps.
Neighbourhood Plan officer, Gerard Tucker showing residents the District Council Local Plan development maps [photograph by Kevin Redpath].
The Steering Committee is extremely grateful to everyone who took time out to visit the exhibition. We’d also like to thank our Town Crier David Greenway who did such a sterling job in encouraging people to visit and Mary Parker and her team who provided the refreshments. The Post It notes are being collated and they will help to shape the development of the Neighbourhood Plan.”

Some of the 1,000+ post-it notes collected during the consultation event [photograph by Kevin Redpath].
Some of the 1,000+ post-it notes collected during the consultation event [photograph by Kevin Redpath].
consultation-poster

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Would you welcome new branch?

On 21st September, I had a very unusual experience – I received a telephone call from a building society!  …Perhaps that doesn’t sound too unusual, after all, many of us have received marketing cold-calls from one financial institution or another, asking if we’d like to change account; take out a loan.  However, this call was completely different…

Hello Mr Cousins, do you think Glastonbury’s community would welcome the opening of a new Nationwide Building Society branch in the town?

The caller was Alan Oliver – Head of External Affairs at Nationwide.  He told me that the Nationwide had been really impressed by the Last Bank Standing campaign (our community’s response to all the banks closing in town).

Unlike other banks,” he contined, “we are investing £500million into opening new branches – and we’d like to consult over the next month to see if there is an appetite in the town. What do you think?…

Well, I thought: Yes!

And that is exactly what the Nationwide are going to do.

‘We’ll open in town if you’ll use us’ from the Central Somerset Gazette, 29th September 2016
‘We’ll open in town if you’ll use us’ from the Central Somerset Gazette, 29th September 2016

So – the question is would you welcome the opening of a new Nationwide Building Society branch in Glastonbury?  They are holding an on-line poll HERE.  Why not let them know?

would-you-welcome

Here’s what Move Your Money UK has to say:
Nationwide is the largest building society in the world, and commands an impressive branch network that rivals even the Big 5 banks. It has an excellent track record in contributing to the real economy and in ethical lending, partly thanks to its strict code of human rights standards on its supply chain.

What’s more, Nationwide shows that better banking can also provide great returns, with its impressive FlexDirect current account offering 5% AER on balances up to £2,500 for the first year – far higher than even most savings accounts. You can also share £200 when you recommend a friend who uses the switch service to move to Nationwide. [correct as of 01/09/15].

Nationwide also takes a responsible approach to lending, with mortgage arrears rates less than two fifths of the industry average by March 2013. With basic bank accounts open to people on a low income, and savings accounts available from only £1 investment, moving your money to Nationwide is a great way of gaining a first-rate service whilst also supporting the society that we all share.

Move Your Money UK – a national campaign for a banking system that helps to build and support a just and sustainable society.

‘Nationwide building society could open branch in Glastonbury after Lloyds, Barclays, and HSBC shut’ from Somerset Live, 28th September 2016.
‘Nationwide building society could open branch in Glastonbury after Lloyds, Barclays, and HSBC shut’ from Somerset Live, 28th September 2016.

Neighbourhood Plan Website Launched

Glastonbury Town Council has launched a new website to promote engagement with our residents, retailers, and business owners on how our town will continue to develop and grow.

Glastonbury’s new Neighbourhood Plan Website
Glastonbury’s new Neighbourhood Plan Website

The website is part of the community engagement strategy developed by the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Committee; Glastonbury’s new Neighbourhood Planning Officer, Gerard Tucker explains: “Put simply, the Neighbourhood Plan is a community-led framework for guiding the future development of Glastonbury; Glastonbury Town Council and in particular the Neighbourhood Planning Steering Group is expected to provide a robust and thorough consultation exercise. Yet there is one missing ingredient – YOU!  We really do need your help, so please get involved when asked for your thoughts either at consultation events or questionnaires.

Our ambition is to research the plan during the remainder of 2016, assess the responses and engage again with residents in early 2017, before writing the plan for presentation to Mendip District Council and an independent examiner. If all goes well, we hope to provide an opportunity for residents to vote at a referendum in early 2018.”

To see Glastonbury’s new Neighbourhood Plan Website for yourself, please click HERE.

Designation of Neighbourhood Plan Area

After several months consulting stakeholders in the community, Mendip District Council have agreed to the ‘Neighbourhood Area’ designated by Glastonbury’s Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group.

The area proposed was that of the Town’s boundary as defined by the four District Council Wards – Glastonbury St. Mary’s, Glastonbury St. John’s, Glastonbury St. Benedict’s, and Glastonbury St. Edmund’s.

The designated Glastonbury ‘Neighbourhood Area’.
The designated Glastonbury ‘Neighbourhood Area’.

The decision – “that the designation of the Glastonbury Neighbourhood Area be made in accordance with Section 61G of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 as amended for the purposes of Neighbourhood Planning” – is a major step forward for the Plan, and means that the Steering Group can begin their extensive engagement of the community.

You can see the full Glastonbury Area Designation Decision Report HERE.

A Right To Build Community-led Housing?

All eyes seem to be on Glastonbury this week!  A week when thousands of people from all over the country celebrate our flair for the unusual, for the unconventional, for the unorthodox!

It’s a week when those visiting the extraordinary Glastonbury Festival find themselves re-imagining – even for a short time – what it is to have a home…  many living in a tent, or a yurt, or a tipi for the week; others arriving in the multitude of live-in vehicles, converted buses, campervans, gypsy vardos, and – this year – possibly a house boat or two!

Photo by Paul Townsend - https://www.flickr.com/photos/brizzlebornandbred/18528387403 ‘Glastonbury Festival 2015’ Permission details CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Photo by Paul Townsend – https://www.flickr.com/photos/brizzlebornandbred/18528387403
‘Glastonbury Festival 2015’ Permission details CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

It’s a week when a mass of modern-day pilgrims converge upon our Green and Pleasant Land ;  many of them purveying off-grid life-styles – especially those in The Green Fields – generating energy with solar panels, wind-turbines, vegetable oil, and even pedal-power!  It’s certainly a week when we can consider ‘the alternative’…

Photo by Lewis Clarke - http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/4619983 ‘Glastonbury Town Scenery’ Permission details CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Photo by Lewis Clarke – http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/4619983
‘Glastonbury Town Scenery’ Permission details CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Having a home is a big issue in Glastonbury; there seems to be more people wishing to live in our town than houses available!   It’s an issue compounded by the physical constraints of the landscape… We are, after all, an island – a fact highlighted by the regular flooding of the levels and moors that surround us!

Housing is not only a big issue; it’s also an emotive subject!  I have listened to many residents who feel there is a genuine social housing need in Glastonbury.  Anecdotal evidence would suggest that there are a lot of people – not just incomers, but those born-and-bred – who struggle with high rents in this town; who need affordable homes (and by that, I mean truly affordable) – not just houses for sale, but decent homes to rent (for an unarguable fair rent!).

‘Housing Estate Glastonbury’ Photo by Derek Harper Permission details CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
‘Housing Estate Glastonbury’ Photo by Derek Harper Permission details CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The perceived problem is that many of the new builds don’t seem to address our local housing need.  Rather, they’re commercial developments, primarily for sale; to maximise profit for the developer.  Many appear to be sold to new people who want to come and live in the town, or to those who buy-to-let… and we’ve all witnessed the worst-case scenario of private landlords in the local press – headlines such as: ‘Glastonbury woman left homeless after being forced to choose between eviction or electrocution’…

Of course, Glastonbury needs new homes; new people to bring fresh ideas and energy into our community… but – surely – our new developments must address Glastonbury’s actual housing need, not just compound it!  To this end, one of the first things Glastonbury’s Neighbourhood Plan hopes to undertake is a Housing Needs Assessment, to verify any previous primary research and establish a methodological survey of the situation.

That being said, there’s already a number of Glastonbury residents interested in ‘the alternative’; in addressing the lack of affordable/social housing in imaginative and creative ways.  People willing to explore and consider the potential of small scale community-led housing developments in the town – perhaps through the creation of a Community Land Trust or Housing Co-operative; perhaps by using the evidence collected during the Neighbourhood Planning process to prepare a Community Right to Build order.

towards the future CCF 1Hot on the heels of the Festival, on Thursday 30th June – between 1 pm and 3 pm – Somerset Co-operative Services (SCS) are hosting an event called ‘Co-operative housing: a better way of living’ at Glastonbury Town Hall.

SCS’s Alex Lawrie spoke about the event recently saying:  “Imagine a form of housing with no mortgage hanging over you, and no landlord ripping you off. Whether you want to live in the town or country, as a family or single occupants, co-operatives can offer a good deal. Together, create new homes by extending existing properties or building from scratch. Find the mix of rent and investment that suits your members.  Come along to find out more!

If you’re interested in the unusual, the unconventional, the unorthodox – in truly imaginative and creative housing solutions – in ‘the alternative’, then why not join us?


Somerset Co-operative Services’ housing info-sheets:
What’s a Housing Co-operative?
What’s a Community Land Trust?

Further support for Community-led Housing:
Locality’s Early Stage Support programme – funded by the Nationwide Foundation – offers expert mentoring and small grants to help affordable community-led housing projects get started.  Find out more HERE

Neighbourhood Plan Consultation Begins!

Glastonbury’s community-led Neighbourhood Plan – to guide the future development and conservation of our local area – formally gets underway this month, with Mendip District Council holding a consultation on the physical area that the plan will cover.

On 26th May 2016, Glastonbury Town Council formally applied to Mendip District Council to designate the Neighbourhood Plan area – which is to be the existing parish boundary of the Town Council’s four wards.

The proposed Glastonbury Neighbourhood Plan area
The proposed Glastonbury Neighbourhood Plan area

Mendip District Council are now undertaking a public consultation on Glastonbury’s Neighbourhood Plan application – from Tuesday 7th June to Tuesday 19th July 2016 – notifying ‘potentially affected parties’ on the area the plan will cover and inviting comments; “to seek views from people who live and work in the community as to whether the area identified is considered to be appropriate.”

Mendip’s website states: “At this stage, views on the content of the Neighbourhood Plan are not being sought, as these will be gathered in consultation exercises organised by the town council during production of the plan…  We would urge local residents to respond to the consultation if they think the boundaries being used should be different from what is being proposed.”

If you wish to make a comment on whether the proposed neighbourhood plan area (which follows the parish boundary) is appropriate you can do so either:

  • By emailing planningpolicy@mendip.gov.uk
  • Or by writing to: Planning Policy Team, Mendip District Council, Cannards Grave Road, Shepton Mallet, BA4 5BT

Please submit your comments by 5 pm on Tuesday 19th July 2016.

Please note that at Mendip district Council are not asking for comments on the potential content of Glastonbury’s Neighbourhood Plan, only whether the proposed area it will have an effect on is appropriate.

For more information on neighbourhood planning please visit National Planning Policy Framework for England’s Planning Practice Guidance.

If you have any questions regarding the area designation process then please contact Natasha Durham by email: natasha.durham@mendip.gov.uk or telephone: 01749 341 316.

“Where are we now?” – an update on Glastonbury’s Neighbourhood Plan

Neighbourhood-Planning 2

One thing I have learnt over the past six months or so is that Neighbourhood Planning is not a quick process – but perhaps that’s only to be expected when undertaking something that truly needs to involve as many people as possible; that will – eventually – become part of the statutory policies for the future development of our area; something with real legal force!

So – as David Bowie might say – “where are we now?

I couldn’t start this blog without mentioning the amazing Paul Sander-Jackson, who has been a major force-for-good on Glastonbury Town Council in support of the Neighbourhood Plan.  Elected in May 2015, Paul became Chair of Glastonbury’s Planning Committee and oversaw the initial Neighbourhood Planning steering group meetings – which researched the process and recommended that the council proceed with a Neighbourhood Plan.

Sadly, Paul had to stand down from the council at the end of March due to ill health. His expertise, mindfulness, and congenial nature will be sorely missed; his time as an elected member may have been short, but it leaves our community the opportunity to undertake a Neighbourhood Plan as its legacy.

As part of that legacy, I am delighted to report that in February, Glastonbury Town Council advertised the post of Neighbourhood Planning Officer – a post ‘responsible for all aspects of the neighbourhood planning process’ – and in March, recruited Gerard Tucker!

Gerard began working for Glastonbury on 3rd May, and has already begun developing Glastonbury’s very own Neighbourhood Plan ‘road map’ – to help our community set out a positive vision for how we want Glastonbury to flourish and develop over the next twenty years!

The Neighbourhood Plan process [from Locality]
The Neighbourhood Plan process [from Locality]
The first item on the agenda is the town’s official application to Mendip District Council to designate Glastonbury as a ‘Neighbourhood Area’, which will be followed by a period of publicity and consultation by the Planning Authority.

As the ‘Qualifying Body’, the Town Council has already begun to gather baseline information and evidence which will help determine the scope and complexity of the plan – such as housing need data, development viability considerations, environmental designations, and flood risk assessments.

In addition, I have provided Gerard with a whole host of Neighbourhood Planning material and information provided through the COM fund, and the considerable amount of data arising from my work on the Local Plan Part II consultation – which contains the main strategic policies for the district in general and Glastonbury in particular.

Great-British-High-Street1

Once the Neighbourhood Area has been approved by Mendip – and the scope agreed – then it’s full steam ahead into the real purpose of the plan: to engage and consult with you; the people living and working in Glastonbury!

This will involve a whole host of activities, ranging from formal consultation events to questionnaires to the stalwart of all good community organising – knocking on doors and listening…

Let’s get planning !

Consultation