Neighbourhood Development Plan and Order for Milton Abbas

July 2018

There has been much recent interest and many questions about a new development proposal and its relevance to the Neighbourhood Plan (NP). This note aims to provide further clarification and context.

Why is the NDP Working Group looking into the proposed development and not the Parish Council?

The NDP Working Group is a working group of the Parish Council and is made up of both councillors and non-councillors. As no firm plans have been put forward yet there isn’t anything for the PC to recommend refusal or acceptance of.

However an NDP can influence where and what is built and as such the NDP Working Group is the best forum to look into the suitability of the proposed site alongside other possible sites in the parish.

While the PC is legally responsible for neighbourhood planning it can delegate the writing of an NDP to a working group. This is a similar structure to Play Park Working Group.

Background

As a Milton Abbas Parish Councillor, Kate Chastey led the Milton Abbas NP process back in 2016. The area was designated, the initial local consultation exercise was completed and its results presented to a well-attended village meeting in August 2016. At the meeting, there was an appeal for volunteers to come forward to progress the NP to its conclusion. Following Kate’s departure from the village, progress has slowed to a near stop. The NP working party has for some time been seeking more support to advance our plan. You may have seen our stand at the recent Annual Parish Meeting. Developing the NP is important, because it can enable local communities to determine the location and nature of new development in their area.

The Parish Clerk received in June a request from an architect for an informal meeting to discuss some land on which they had purchased an option. At the informal meeting with the NP working party on 29 June it transpired that the land in question was as marked in blue on the map below.

Current position

First, we would like to apologise very sincerely for the unease caused by the recent anonymous Elliegram about the above proposal for houses to the east of the village. We were all very surprised at the meeting by the location and scale of the proposal and the intention was to share in good faith the information as openly and as quickly as possible.

It should be emphasised that no planning application has been made to build houses on the land marked on the map above; the area merely defines a proposed location for possible future development. It should also be emphasised that the NP working party has no view on the amount or location of any future development – those matters are for the community to decide in coming together to construct an NP by consensus and putting it to a parish referendum.

We have pointed out in the past that without an NP in place the parish potentially has less control over the location and type of development that occurs. NPs do not have to be led by the Parish Council and are usually developed collectively by a community involving unpaid volunteers. If the prospect of high numbers of houses on a small field makes you feel like taking action, then there is plenty to do that may contribute to ‘material weight’ in the planning system. You can support the NP either by participating in future consultations or by getting involved with the NP process itself (e.g. doing research, community engagement, creating part of the document, providing photos, reviewing and editing).

Next Steps

  • The Parish Council is seeking more details regarding the proposed development from the developers
  • There will be an open NDP meeting when parish residents will be able to ask questions and share views regarding the way forward for the community’s NDP. The date is yet to be finalised and it is planned to be in the week of the 16th July.
  • 19th August 3:30-5pm: NDP working party drop-in consultation in the Reading Rooms, hopefully to discuss an early draft of the NDP.
  • Between now and 19th August any feedback and questions about the NDP can be directed to ndp@miltonabbaspc.org.uk copying the Parish Clerk Elizabeth Sellen miltonabbas@dorset-aptc.gov.uk or writing to Milton Abbas Parish Council, Bourne View, Chapel Lane, Winterborne Stickland, Blandford DT11 0NG.

On Wednesday 24th August 2016, the Working Party of the Neighbourhood Development Plan presented to a packed Reading Rooms!

Parish Councillor Kate Chastey kicked off the evening with an overview of where we are up to in the process so far and talked about the designated Neighbourhood Area and the representation The Street, Catherine’s Well and the wider community had in the room on the night. Kate commented that it was brilliant to see so many people, from all three areas of our village.

Then there was an insightful presentation from local Planning Consultant Jo Witherden (www.dorsetplanningconsultant.co.uk). Jo demonstrated her experience by succinctly defining what a Neighbourhood Plan is and how it can benefit us. She also provided an example case for Cerne Valley and how their plan led to off-shoot projects for the greater good of the community.

The audience then heard from James Farnham on the responses received to the Vision Survey. James began by reiterating why the Vision Survey was important, and why it was intentionally so short with very broad questions; at this stage in the process, the Working Party wanted unprompted, qualitative feedback on people’s like and dislikes, views on pressures facing the village and people’s opinions of what needs to change.

And that is indeed what we received!

11% of our community took the time to write anything between 60 and 1400 words in spontaneous responses. James gave an overview of the responses highlighting the main 4 or 5 themes that became clear for each question.

The event concluded with a lively debate about what a Neighbourhood Development Plan could really do for the Village, whether it was capable of addressing all the issues and concerns raised in the Vision Survey and indeed whether a Plan holds any weight at all if local or even central government change policies. All of these were really valid and interesting discussion points, and in the end a vote was taken on the feeling within the room; All but 5 people were ‘for’ progressing with a plan for Milton Abbas, five were ‘undecided’ and nobody stated that they were ‘against’ a Neighbourhood Plan. One member of the audience very eloquently stated; ‘If we have a group of people willing to put in the time and effort to create a plan, that gives the Village some say when it comes to Development, and can be funded by grants, why wouldn’t we go ahead?”
Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 18.32.55Kate Chastey confirmed that the Parish Council support the Neighbourhood Plan fully. She stated that the Councillors are here to represent the village at large, and so too are the NDP Working Party. She urged people to come forward and get involved. Whatever your views, whatever your experience of the village, however long you’ve been here – everybody will be welcomed into discussions about the Milton Abbas Development Plan.

The slide show shown at this event is available here.

WATCH THIS SPACE FOR ANNOUNCEMENTS ON COMING FOCUS GROUPS AND FURTHER COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT!

Below you will find all the information you might need about what the NDP is, why it is important and how you can get involved.

NDP Road Map

What documents might you find useful? 

The NDP Fact Sheet – this is a two page quick reference guide put together by the Milton Abbas Working Party to help our residents understand what the NDP is and why it’s important.

The Milton Abbas NDP Timeline – this is the schedule we hope to keep in order to bring the NDP to life. It is subject to change as this is a huge project and there may be bumps in the road ahead!

The Designated Area for Milton Abbas – this is a map of the Parish boundary. For information on  our adjoining Neighbourhood Areas and others within North Dorset click here.

The Neighbourhood Plans Road Map Guide – this is a brilliant 54 page booklet to help you understand the detail of an NDP.

The North Dorset District Plan Part 1 and Part 2 – detailing all the policies that the District has agreed to adopt between now and 2031.

The Historic Towns Survey for our village.

The Conservation Area Appraisal carried out in 2014.

The Terms of Reference of the Milton Abbas Neighbourhood Development Plan Working Party.

The Working Party understand there is a lot of information to take in, and naturally there will be questions. We want to be as transparent as possible so below we will keep a list of ‘FAQs’ and add to this list as and when residents raise queries. If you have a question, email ndp@miltonabbaspc.org.uk and Kate Chastey or James Farnham will respond as soon as possible.

Question: How much is the NDP going to cost the village? I’ve heard some are as much as £35,000!
Answer: The Milton Abbas NDP is budgeted to cost no more than £10,000. £8,000 will be grant funded, £2,000 is allocated in the Parish Council budget. We also hope to get support from local businesses when the time comes for printing etc. NDPs in areas such as Sturminster and Blandford would cost much more because of the size of the community and the cost of publicity and engagement. In Milton Abbas, we have the Bulletin’s support to spread news of the NDP which is fabulous, and we also have a valuable network within the village for keeping people updated – including all the village notice boards, the ‘Ellie-gram’ and the Milton Abbas Facebook page. We also have a Working Party volunteering their time, energy and skills. This is a hugely important project. It will be the legacy of this Parish Council and so it is absolutely vital it is done properly and with everyone’s input. It will be £10,000 very well spent!

Question: How do I get involved in the Working Party? I’d like to represent a group of people in the village.
Answer: Fantastic!! Just email Kate on ndp@miltonabbaspc.org.uk or call 01258 88 21 62.

Question: How will the Plan be voted on?
Answer: Once we have gone through all the stages listed in the diagram above, there will be a referendum. 50% have to vote in favour of the plan in order for it to be adopted.

Read previous articles published in the Bulletin relating to the NDP – just click on the links below:

April 2016
September 2015