Well, you all deserve massive congratulations. Over 270 turned out during our 2 sessions at the Greet Hall on Wednesday - what an overwhelming level of interest from across our villages. We also note special efforts made by those who find it difficult to attend, and welcome interest from the younger members of the community, too. Thank you especially for the wider members of the community who dived in to help with refreshments, child care and door duties. All very much appreciated.
To those who indicated support for the NP:
THANK YOU. Preliminary indicators show that over 90% of participants in the 'written-down-hands-up' poll support the NP. (This is quite a significant margin, but for purposes of procedural rigour, we are still cross referencing and double checking - and will include final figures in our consultation statement - another lengthy document, also a requirement of the NP...)
We've had some policy feedback already and a special thanks to those who have proposed alternative wordings to reflect their suggestions. This is very helpful to the team (no guarantee that you'll see those words in the final report, as we must reflect everyone's suggestions - and then meet SODC's standards, of course - but it is very welcome).
To those who are not yet able to indicate support:
Although we received overwhelming support, we are a small village, and personally remain keenly aware that not everyone is behind the Plan. Whilst recognising that we may not be able to influence this, we will continue to log, assess and analyse all feedback. These themes have emerged:
Consultation & Site Assessment Process: Some indicated a perception of a lack of consultation on the sites, and the requirement to debate the site allocation. This is not supported by the Neighbourhood Plan process which we are required to follow. The assessment team adheres to set procedures; it carried out site assessments consistently, meticulously and rigorously vs SODC-approved geophysical, planning-based and viability criteria.
The NP have hosted 4 public meetings since the site assessment process began: June 9, July 6, Sept 6, Oct 3, inviting and processing feedback from the village after each. The Parish Council also held an extraordinary meeting on August 31 to address any additional questions parishioners might have. We take professional, independent advice on what information we should share and when, to maintain the sensitive balance required to protect our village.
By NP standards, this is a significant amount of consultation. In our analysis, there was one site that emerged 'positively' - or 'least negatively'. It had the added benefit of providing community benefit to meet the community's expressed need. Following the process, that site was therefore allocated. Any additional evidence that is presented can be used to challenge the assessment and will be reviewed by the same team of assessors.
Whilst some expressed support for the privacy afforded by the 'written-down-hands-up' poll, quite a few people reflected that they found the wording on the poll card upsetting. In fact, the wording used reflects that of SODC in their recent planning consultation document. They were specific: where a community makes plans, they will accept housing through that plan.Where plans do not exist, they will support proposals that come forward through the planning application process. This is the stark choice that we as a community are being presented with. The NP team are relaying that binary reality.
To all our neighbours:
It has been a great boost to the team to have this show of support from such a huge turnout. We will continue to update you on the documentation, reflecting updates - including those from the villagers' feedback - as we make progress towards our submission and - hopefully - the protection we need.
The Warborough & Shillingford Neighbourhood Planning steering committee