Broadstone Neighbourhood Forum – September 2017

After four and a half years of evidence collecting, numerous consultations and even more revisions, the final version of the Draft Neighbourhood Plan is finished at last. This, together with updated documents have now been sent to the planning consultant who has been tasked with producing the necessary Basic Conditions Report. Subject to a positive response, a final public consultation will be scheduled by the Borough of Poole and the Draft Plan, together with all supporting documents, will be posted on both the Council’s the Forum’s websites. Hopefully more details will be available in time for next month’s update. Immediately following the consultation, the Draft Plan will be submitted to a Government Inspector for examination.

In providing regular updates the Neighbourhood Forum has endeavoured to keep Broadstone residents informed of both progress and content. Attention has focused primarily upon our open spaces and housing issues, which between them account for 8 of the 10 policies which make up the heart of the Plan. One policy, BP10 Protecting Community Facilities in Broadstone, is critical in the overall scheme. Its purpose is to prevent the loss of Broadstone’s wide range of community leisure and sporting facilities as a consequence of future development. The Plan recognises the important role these facilities play in the lives of Broadstone’s residents, and hence the contribution they make to the health and wellbeing of individuals as well as the community in general. At the centre of the policy is the requirement for a developer to provide an alternative should the proposals include the loss of the current facilities/buildings.

Whilst the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework presumes in favour of sustainable development the approval of a planning application should not be granted to the detriment of the community. Even though there is a huge need for more housing it should not be at the cost of community facilities, high quality design, or public amenity.

We have recently acquired a small selection of photographs for inclusion in the Neighbourhood Plan. These have been taken from the crane on the McCarthy and Stone development site and provide a very different view of Broadstone from the one we are all familiar with. Two are included with this article. We would like to thank the company for their contribution and co-operation.

Mike Brooke
Chair, Broadstone Neighbourhood Forum

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Broadstone Neighbourhood Forum – July 2017

I should have learned by now not to make predictions. In last month’s up-date I stated that we would have received the Basic Conditions report by the beginning of June, and that we would be moving the plan forward through the next stages. Unfortunately, as has been the case on previous occasions, another issue has arisen which has delayed us yet again.

For the last four years Poole Planning department has been consulting on and reviewing its local plan. This was first approved in 2009 which means it needs to be brought up to date. Coincidentally, it is at the same development stage as our Neighbourhood plan, and hence the issue we are currently wrestling with. A Neighbourhood plan must be in general conformity with the Local plan. For the last four years, as Broadstone’s Neighbourhood Plan has taken shape we have ensured the content, including the policies, has not only been aligned with those in the Borough of Poole’s 2009 Local plan (Core Strategy) but also with the ever-changing National Planning Policy Framework. We now find that we are having to rewrite large sections of the plan to ensure it conforms to the emerging Local plan which may just be in place before ours is adopted. Even if the Broadstone Neighbourhood plan is approved first it would still have to be aligned with Poole’s new Local plan. The consequence of this is a further delay. We have re-arranged for the Basic Needs Assessment to be carried out later in July. In addition, a date has been set (September 19th) for presentation to the Borough of Poole’s Place Overview and Scrutiny Committee, following which, with Cabinet approval, the plan will go out to final consultation.

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Broadstone Neighbourhood Forum – June 2017

On several occasions in the past we have mentioned the need for a Health Check prior to submission of the plan to the Borough of Poole. Shortly after our Annual General meeting at the end of March we passed the plan and all supporting documents to the consultants scheduled to carry out the Health Check. Although such an exercise is not a statutory requirement we felt it would be very helpful to obtain the view of an independent planning expert.

We received the detailed report towards the end of April, and although there is quite a bit more work to do to ensure the plan meets the Government’s very stringent requirements, it was pleasing to read the overview. The following quote is taken directly from the report. “The plan is a well presented document, with the right balance between the description of the area and the development plan policies looking forward and makes good use of maps and photographs. It is an easy read and appears very professional. There is extensive evidence of public consultation and liaison with the existing business community within the plan area.” There are some criticisms which we will have to respond to if we are to ensure the plan is in general conformity with the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework and the Borough of Poole’s Core Strategy/revised Local Plan. The report provides us with appropriate advice. We are currently working on the changes so that, by the time you read this, the plan will have undergone its Basic Conditions testing and should be ready for submission to the Borough of Poole.

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Broadstone Neighbourhood Forum; Annual Report, 30th March 2017

This last year has been something of a rollercoaster ride, with highs and lows. The year started well. Following the 2016 Annual General Meeting we frantically brought all the Neighbourhood Plan documentation up to date and uploaded to our website www.broadstoneneighbourhood.uk ready for the statutory Regulation 14 consultation. This was scheduled to commence on April 13th and last for 6 weeks, though we extended the deadline slightly to May 31st. The launch of the consultation was accompanied by several press releases, but unfortunately some of the headlines proved to be rather controversial and consequently caused something of a distraction. Several people responded to the headlines and images without any reference to the content of the plan.

We are grateful to Broadstone library for allowing us to display the plans for the whole of the consultation period, during which time Forum members spoke to over a hundred residents. Saturday mornings provided a further opportunity to talk to residents about the plan from our small stall outside Budgens. The level of interest was encouraging and the quality of responses on the completed questionnaires gave us food for thought.

Consultation is an integral part of the neighbourhood planning process. It demonstrates the extent to which residents and businesses are aware of, an involved with, it’s development. The Forum must be able to demonstrate that it has listened to, and responded to, the comments made. The evidence for this is presented in the Consultation Statement. This has the potential of creating a vast amount of work, so we had scheduled the period from June to the end of August for completing any amendments to the plan we felt were necessary. Unfortunately, this is where we experienced a major low point.

Regulation 14 requires us to consult with several statutory bodies. One of these failed to respond by the deadline. In fact, we did not receive a response until the end of September. Without this organisation’s response, it was difficult to move forward in a meaningful way. We had little option but to revise our schedule and cope as best we could with the impacts.

Over the last three months we have, in response to the consultation, been revising the draft plan, and what is on display represents the latest version. This has been forwarded to an independent consultant for a health check. Fortunately, this is a free service as part of the Government support grant we were awarded during 2016. Because the money we received has now been spent, and there is potentially more work to be done prior to submission to the Borough of Poole, we have applied for an additional grant for this coming financial year.

On the positive side, the Forum has been praised by both English Heritage, for its work on the character of Broadstone, and by the Environment Agency for including policies which help address the issues of surface runoff and flood risk in Broadstone. Furthermore, the support for the plan’s policies is extremely high, at around 90%, and is even higher for the principle of developing a masterplan once the plan itself has been “made”.

Once the plan has been submitted to the Borough of Poole it is virtually out of our hands for the remainder of the process. There is a further consultation period, Regulation 15, which is organised by the Borough of Poole, after which all the documents are forwarded to a Government Inspector for examination. If he/she is satisfied, then a referendum has to be held, and provided the yes vote gains over 50% the plan becomes a statutory planning document. It is hoped this can be achieved before the end of this year. We will continue to keep everyone informed of progress through our monthly updates in Broadstone Link.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank committee members for their support and unstinting effort over the last four years, and to thank everyone who has contributed to the plan in any way. Your help, criticisms, supportive comments and advice have been appreciated.

Mike Brooke
Chair, Broadstone Neighbourhood Forum.

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Broadstone Neighbourhood Forum – May 2017

Since our Annual General Meeting at the end of March we have received confirmation that we have been awarded another Government grant. While this is not as much as we had hoped for, it will help us to progress the Neighbourhood Plan through its final stages prior to a referendum. Everyone within the plan area will then have an opportunity to vote for or against the plan. Those who have followed its evolution will know it is not overly ambitious. It does not identify any potential development sites, nor does it propose any changes to the central commercial area. Rather, it sets out policies which focus on the protection of our green spaces and community facilities whilst requiring any new build to be of the highest possible design standards.

The plan, however, does recognise the existence of several issues which need to be addressed if the long-term vision of a safe and welcoming environment is to be achieved. No specific solutions to these issues are proposed, but our consultations with residents and businesses have demonstrated a strong desire for the development of a masterplan for Broadstone. As this is a complex process we recently applied for technical support to help us get started. We have just heard that our application has been successful and that a specialist consultant has been appointed to work with us over the next four months. This will kick start the process and, in doing so, will almost certainly involve public meetings and the opportunity to have your say.

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Broadstone Neighbourhood Forum – April 2017

If ever there were a process in which the goal posts keep changing, then neighbourhood planning would be it. I referred in last month’s update to some local factors that could impact upon the neighbourhood plan. In addition to Local Government we now have National Government raising potential issues for us.

At Local Government level, Poole Planning Authority has been undertaking a major review of its Local Plan. A key element under discussion was the increase in housing need from 500 new homes per year to over 700. Inevitably some of these will be located in Broadstone, though space for new houses is very limited. Fortunately, our own Housing Needs Assessment is sufficiently up to date to have taken this issue into consideration. As a result, our housing policies also reflect the change while emphasising the need for good and sustainable design. We have also managed to anticipate potential policy changes, especially with regard to the development and location of new flats.

At national level a new Government White Paper has supposedly strengthened the Neighbourhood Planning process and the significance of neighbourhood plans. The Government has removed the expectation that each local planning authority (LPA) should produce a single Local Plan, with the emphasis now placed on more detail being contained in neighbourhood plans. In effect, this means a neighbourhood plan, once approved, will form part of a council’s Local Plan rather than simply being an add-on. Such a move is welcomed.

Proposed changes to the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework highlight the opportunities neighbourhood plans present for identifying and allocating small sites that are suitable for housing, drawing on the knowledge of local communities. The executive discussed this possibility at its last meeting and agreed that, because of the lack of suitable development space, we would not attempt to identify any sites, but rather strengthen the protection of amenity space, wildlife corridors, good design and the preservation of a locality’s essential character. However, we recognise that two sites already have planning permission: The Goods Yard car park (31 flats) and Dunyeats Road (36 sheltered apartments). Work has now started on the latter with completion scheduled for mid-2018.

So, are we simply going around in circles, or are we actually making progress towards the final goal – approval of Broadstone’s Neighbourhood Plan? While it often feels like we are not making any progress it is fair to say that the final milestones are now well in sight. At the time of writing we are about to submit the plan to an independent consultant for a health check and Basic conditions test. If this goes well the plan can then be presented to the Borough of Poole for the Regulation 15 consultation, after which it passes to an independent examiner and finally to referendum. We are hoping this will be a smooth passage and completed before the end of the year. In the meantime, we are organising the Annual General Meeting scheduled for March 30th. This will provide an opportunity for those attending to see the changes made since the Regulation 14 consultation last year.

Mike Brooke
Chair, Broadstone Neighbourhood Forum.

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Broadstone Neighbourhood Forum AGM

The 2017 Broadstone Neighbourhood Forum AGM is on 30th March at 7:30 to 9:30 at St. John’s Church Hall, Macaulay Road, Broadstone. Everyone is welcome.

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Broadstone Neighbourhood Forum – March 2017

In last month’s update I referred to two events that have the potential to impact upon the work of the Neighbourhood Forum at some time in the future. The executive met at the end of January to discuss the implications of both the Council’s vote to support the creation of a super council through the merger of Poole, Bournemouth and Christchurch councils, and the confirmation that car parking prices will be increased by 150%.

Whilst the final decision on the formation of a super-council will be made by the Secretary of State, later this year, members of the Forum believed it important that we begin to plan ahead. The likelihood is that there will be no local decision making or accountability and little benefit for Broadstone. The Localism Act of 2011 enables Neighbourhood Forums to convert into Parish Councils if so desired. No decision has been made yet regarding Broadstone Neighbourhood Forum, nor will it be, until we have more information and certainty about the future. Should the time come when a decision needs to be made, we will ensure that it will be in response to the wishes of Broadstone residents, following a period of consultation. In the meantime, it might be interesting to start a discussion, so do come along to our Annual General Meeting on the 30th March at St. John’s Church Hall starting at 7.30pm when we will devote some time to the question: why convert to a Parish Council?
With the hike in car parking charges coming into force on March 1st there are likely to be a number of impacts, some of which could well affect important elements of the Neighbourhood Plan, which is now nearing completion. We could see a 25% fall in the use of the two car parks as people look for a free parking place. This could result in greater demand for the Toast Rack, far more congestion in the Broadway, and overall, a decline in the quality of the immediate environment. In addition, businesses have expressed serious concerns over the possible impact of a reduced footfall. How should the Neighbourhood Forum and the emerging Plan respond to these possible events? The Annual General Meeting will provide an opportunity to explore possible answers, and in doing so, may help us start the master planning process.

The changes to the Neighbourhood Plan that we are having to make following last year’s Regulation 14 consultation are taking a little longer than anticipated but the work is nearly finished. By the time of the Annual General Meeting on Thursday 30th March we hope that not only will the final draft of the plan be on display but also that the Regulation 15 consultation, can be launched. This would be managed by the council and would lay the foundations for inspection and the future referendum.

I hope to see you at our Annual General Meeting on Thursday 30th March at 7.30pm at St. John’s Church Hall, Macaulay Road.

Mike Brooke
Chair, Broadstone Neighbourhood Forum

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Broadstone Neighbourhood Forum – February 2017

When will the plan be ready? is a question I get asked from time to time and it is a very difficult one to answer. I wish I could give a precise date but a number of influences are outside the Forum’s control. These include changes in Government policies, both planning policies and policies relating to Neighbourhood Forums in general. One such planning policy relates to the conversion of office space into residential space. Provided there is no change in overall floor space planning permission is no longer needed for this type of a conversion. Clearly such a policy change can have a significant impact upon a business area such as the Broadway. We have therefore had to review a number of our policies, especially those relating to the economic vitality of the village centre, to ensure they do not conflict with this change.

More recently, in an attempt to make the Neighbourhood Planning process more streamlined, the Government has set a time limit on the final stage, the referendum, which now has to be completed within 56 days of the plan being signed-off by the council. While this is good news, there is no set time frame for the signing-off itself. This is dependent upon the Council’s own work schedules, the nature of the Inspector’s report and the time it takes to make any amendments required by the Inspector.

In addition, the Council may change some of its policies, policies which are outside the planning framework, but which can still impact upon the neighbourhood planning process. One such very recent policy change made by Poole Borough Council relates to the repricing of District car parks, a consequence of which could be increased traffic congestion as car drivers look for on-road spaces rather than pay the higher prices. Also, there could be significant impacts upon the viability of the retail and business centre because of a reduced footfall . As a result, the Forum is now faced with the need to re-evaluate not only the policies relating to economic viability but also re-examine the aspirations we had for Broadstone’s centre. We could be faced with the need to collect more data and re-write some of the text, both of which are time consuming.

Last month’s update expressed a hope that we would be able to publish the revised plan towards the end of January. That is still our aim but there is still another factor to take into consideration. The reorganisation of local government and the proposed merger of Poole with Bournemouth and Christchurch is looking more and more likely to proceed. Poole Borough Council will then have an additional focus which could further delay the completion of our Neighbourhood Plan since all service units will have to undergo major reorganisation to ensure a smooth transition to the new authority. No one knows exactly how this will impact upon our work, but, as with every other extraneous influence that has impacted upon us, we are determined to meet the challenge and deliver a Neighbourhood Plan of high quality before the end of 2017.

Our next Annual General Meeting will take place towards the end of March – date to be confirmed.

Mike Brooke
Chair, Broadstone Neighbourhood Forum.

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Broadstone Neighbourhood Forum – January 2017

Shortly after writing the last update we received the response document from Strategic Planning Services, Borough of Poole. Whilst the comments were wide ranging the general tone of the document was one of support. There are a few changes required to the background text and overall presentation which we are happy to implement. In addition, there is helpful advice about our policies which, if adopted, will ensure our documentation complies with the necessary legal requirements. These recommendations have been discussed at both executive level and with our support officer so that we have been able to pass the work over to our consultants to implement. Once completed, hopefully in early January, the Draft Neighbourhood Plan will be significantly different from the one that went out to consultation. So what changes will you notice?

In terms of presentation some of the maps, for example those showing Broadstone’s historical development will be larger and more closely related to the text. All photographs will be fully labelled and some of the maps will be modified to improve legibility. There will also be some additional maps, including one to show the extent of important wildlife corridors and a proposals map. This latter is of fundamental importance as it identifies all those elements of the plan covered by each individual policy.

There will be fewer policies than previously presented. This reduction reflects several issues. Firstly, partnership working is a process and not subject to planning policy. As such partnership working enables policies to be implemented. It therefore needs to be included within a new section of the plan, namely, Implementation and Monitoring. This section is designed to demonstrate how each of the policies will be implemented as well as assessing the degree to which the desired outcomes are being achieved. The original Policy 2 on partnership working will therefore been deleted.

Secondly, whilst the inclusion of transportation issues is permitted within a Neighbourhood Plan, transportation per se does not form part of planning policy. As a consequence, we will be removing Policy 10 whilst retaining a modified section on Access and Movement which will form part of the masterplanning process.

Thirdly, Policy 14 will also be removed on the basis that this is again a process and so should be referenced within the Implementation and Monitoring Section. However, the principle of developing a masterplan for Broadstone will be retained, especially since it received overwhelming support in the consultation. Changes will be made to the text as well as to the options especially since a number of responses received were concerned with the potential reduction in car parking spaces within the Broadway. It is accepted that this is an issue, but it must be considered within the overall context of the plan and a clearly defined parking strategy.

The remaining policies relating to protection of open spaces, managing housing and design, encouraging a vibrant economy, conserving community assets and promoting sustainability will all see minor adjustments to ensure they can be appropriately applied to the decision-making process.

The revised draft plan will be posted on our website towards the end of January but in the meantime the current version can still be accessed using the following link www.broadstoneneighbourhood.uk/consultation/

Our next AGM is being scheduled for the end of March

Mike Brooke
Chair, Broadstone Neighbourhood Forum

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