The Neighbourhood Plan is our view of the local planning policies that matter. It belongs to you, me and everyone else in the community. It’s developed by us, and everyone gets a vote as to whether or not we should go with it. If the answer is “yes”, those policies come into effect, and carry more weight than the Local Plan produced by the planners at South Cambridgeshire Council.
We’ve got one in place already – it was adopted after a referendum in 2021. That’s good, and it’s already having some impact. The planners have quoted its policies in refusing some planning applications. And so has a planning inspector at the appeal that rejected the plans for the redevelopment of the site that includes Station Stores.
But whilst our plan was adopted recently, the Parish Council thinks we ought to have a look at it, and see if it needs improvement, or new policies, in any areas.
Because our plan took some time to put together, things have moved on, and what were the top priorities when it started might need tweaking. For example, since then, the Council has declared a climate emergency. The Local Plan is also taking a stronger stance on environmental matters, and climate change, and everything associated with that, is the top priority. The current plan, though, has very little in it in that area.
We may also want to look to see whether any further protection is needed for areas of land that are important to us – the Abbey Fields lands for example, or the old Infants’ School playing field.
We’re also beginning to see some of the results from the 2021 Census. A lot of people are now primarily working from home – but whilst a third of houses in the village are 4 or more bedrooms, very few families are actually 5 or more people. Should we be looking for any new houses to have fewer bedrooms but a dedicated study, for example? And what about our older people? They may want a bungalow – but very few of those are being built, and what we have are being converted into houses. Should they be treated as an “endangered species”?
So, the Parish Council is looking for a team of residents and councillors to put together the next version of the Neighbourhood Plan. This is a great opportunity for people who want to make a difference in our community. By volunteering, you can help ensure that our community continues to develop in a way that benefits everyone.
If you’re interested in helping out, please contact the Parish Council via Amelia Luck at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Denis Payne at email@example.com. Let’s work together to create a vibrant, sustainable future for our community.