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?
Continue reading “Broadstone Neighbourhood Forum – March 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.
Continue reading “Broadstone Neighbourhood Forum – February 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.
Continue reading “Broadstone Neighbourhood Forum – January 2017”
The executive continues to meet every month even though there is currently little activity. Once again we are waiting for revised responses from Poole Borough Council without which it is not possible to complete the required update of the draft Neighbourhood Plan. This work is necessary in order to comply with legislation and to progress the Plan to the next stage of its development. This delay has caused us a further problem since our latest grant was time limited and should have been used by now. On October 31st we applied for an extension until 31st January and we are pleased that this has been approved. These delays, which have been out of our control, are extremely frustrating for everyone involved, especially since the plan developed by Poole Quays Forum has been progressed by the Borough of Poole with very little delay. Not only has it undergone a successful inspection but is now being recommended to go out to referendum. We do, however, extend our congratulations to Poole Quays Forum and wish them every success.
In the November update it was mentioned that we would be submitting a response to the consultation on the proposed council mergers. This we did. Our comments were based upon numerous conversations with residents who had raised their concerns with us; on discussions during the Council’s road show and at our executive meetings. What follows is a summary of the key points.
- We agreed with the focus on cutting out duplication and reducing administrative costs.
- We did not agree that it was necessary to replace the existing 9 councils with 2 new councils
- Accountability, quality of service, Local identity, access to services and value for money were all regarded as being of equal importance.
- We disagreed with all three options presented for the two new councils.
- General comments:
- the survey was strongly biased in favour of one specific option. Through the text and by discounting the no change option respondents were led inevitably to choose one of the 2 council options.
- the public were not given all the available options, for example partnership working, a single unitary council, a combined council. These had been dismissed by council leaders without discussion with all councillors.
- Poole residents would face larger council tax increases than residents in other authorities over a 20 year period as a consequence of council tax harmonisation. They would not necessarily experience improved services or additional investment in their area.
- With a reduced number of councillors, money would be saved but there would be an increased risk of reduced accessibility and local accountability.
- There would be a tendency for power and decision making to be more centralised with a subsequent decline in localism.
- Inward investment and economic development would be more likely to be centrally focused with Bournemouth gaining more than Poole. What then for Poole town centre and local centres such as Broadstone?
- The whole focus was on finance with no consideration given to other factors such as culture, heritage and local identity, all of which had been raised by residents as being of importance to them.
We await the outcome of the consultation and the councils’ decisions with interest, especially since the response rate appears to be little more than 2%.
Chair, Broadstone Neighbourhood Forum
Congratulations to Poole Quays Forum. Their neighbourhood plan has now been given the green light by a Government Inspector and, subject to a number of small amendments, should soon be going out to a referendum. Our Neighbourhood plan has not yet reached this stage. This is in part due to Poole Council failing to respond to the Regulation 14 consultation for 5 months. We have now received detailed comments from both the Strategic Planning unit and Transportation Services. Overall the Council is very supportive of what we are trying to achieve, and this sits nicely alongside comments from residents and businesses. Our policies relating to protection of open spaces, green corridors and environmental quality have met with overwhelming support, as have our proposed housing policies. However, as always, the devil is in the detail and some changes will have to be made before the final consultation can be undertaken. Some of the changes are quite straight forward, for example, providing more detailed evidence to support Policy 1 – the designation of a Local Green Space in Lytchett Drive. Policy 2, which proposes partnership working, is an operational statement rather than a planning policy. It therefore needs to be reclassified as an objective and relocated in the appropriate part of the document. The wording of a number of the other policies will have to be changed in order to remove ambiguity or risk of unintended consequences.
Following discussions with our support officers they have agreed to re-examine their comments in light of the Inspector’s report on Poole Quays Forum Plan. It is apparent that there are a number of common issues so it is important these are addressed before our Plan is submitted for external inspection.
We still don’t have a revised time frame for the next stages in the production process. However, work hasn’t stopped and our consultants continue to produce additional maps and revisions that remove a number of inconsistencies associated with defining and delineating Broadstone’s Central Area.
Another aspect of the Plan we will have to address is the concept of a Masterplan for Broadstone’s central business area. This gained extremely strong support from those residents who responded to the consultation, but rather like the policy on partnership working it isn’t a specific planning policy. How we deal with this issue has yet to be determined.
The suggestion that the Broadway could be pedestrianised failed to gain significant support. However, the majority of the comments received were based upon newspaper articles and not the Plan Document itself. Nevertheless they represent residents’ views and will be given full consideration before more concrete proposals for the toast rack and central area are developed.
Finally, the Forum will be submitting a response to the proposed council mergers which we hope to reproduce in the next issue.
Chair, Broadstone Neighbourhood Forum
It has been a fairly quiet time for the Forum with no meetings during the holiday period, but by the time you read this article we will be well and truly back in harness and faced with an end of October deadline for some crucial documents. Following a series of emails to Poole Council a promise of an initial response to the Draft Neighbourhood Plan has at last been received. A meeting has also been requested to discuss a revised timescale for the remaining stages in the process.
We are also having to chase Natural England for their response!
In the meantime our consultants have progressed an additional item for our consideration, an Implementation and Monitoring Proposal. It is important that once the plan has been approved we are in a position to implement it and monitor the effectiveness of the various policies. This is particularly important for the housing policies and development issues. Already we are seeing applications for more flats coming forward. This will help address the need for smaller units that was identified in the Housing Needs Assessment carried out last year. However, applications for individual houses are few and far between. What we are seeing is a rapid increase in applications for extensions to existing properties. While this should not be an issue there is always a risk that the character of a specific locality could be affected.
Some of the issues we have been experiencing over the past year do not appear to be unique. As a consequence the Government continues to monitor the progress being made by Neighbourhood Forums and the support being given by Local Authorities. It periodically introduces changes to the Neighbourhood Planning process to make it easier for Neighbourhood Plans to progress more quickly. In addition the Government has recently made it easier to convert from a Neighbourhood Forum into a Parish Council. This may be an important issue for consideration depending upon the outcome of the proposed council mergers. It is possible that we could end up with no local accountability and no opportunity for local decision making.
To find out more about the options being proposed and consulted on – the consultation continues until 25th October – please use this link: www.reshapingyourcouncils.uk and please make every effort to respond to the consultation questionnaire.
Our October meeting will take place on Tuesday 11th October at 7.00pm in Broadstone Youth Centre.
Chair, Broadstone Neighbourhood Forum
August has been a relatively quiet month for the Neighbourhood Forum. We submitted our response to Poole’s Draft Local Plan housing consultation focusing on two aspects, namely, encroachment onto green belt land and the proposal for 20 houses above the Story Lane car park. In both instances we confirmed the points raised at our earlier meeting with Poole’s Planning Policy manager and outlined in last month’s update.
The Council’s response to the statutory consultation on the Draft Neighbourhood Plan is still awaited even though the consultation ended on 31st May. This is now becoming a serious issue since any further delay could cost us our current grant funding. On a more positive note responses from Historic England and the Environment Agency have been very positive:
“It is an impressive document in its grasp of the locally distinctive character of the Plan area and how this should inform proposals for change. We are particularly impressed by the community’s decision to prepare a Characterisation Study as a detailed follow on from the Poole-wide document produced in 2010, the emphasis on good design, and the inclusion of policies on such matters as building heights (Policy 6) and identifying the requirement and brief for a masterplan for the village centre.” (Historic England).
“Following review of the neighbourhood plan and policies I can confirm that we have no objection to the document.
We note that the document acknowledges the appropriate flood risk and surface water issues within the plan area. Given the role of Borough of Poole as the Lead Local Flood Authority we have no further comments to make at this time.” (Environment Agency).
The consequence of such statements means there is no need to revise the Statutory Environmental Assessment documentation that was produced following last year’s major consultation exercise.
Finally, I referred to a planning application involving Home Corfe House in last month’s update. I am pleased to confirm that the application only relates to one of the properties within the building, not all the units, consequently there will be no significant impact upon Wentworth Drive. Consultations about on-street parking and fast moving traffic in this road are on-going.
The Forum meets on the third Tuesday of each month in Broadstone Youth Centre, Moor Road 7.00 – 9.00pm. If you would like to find out more you will be most welcome at the next meeting on Tuesday September 20th.
Chair, Broadstone Neighbourhood Forum.
With the Council’s housing suggestions currently out to public consultation the Neighbourhood Forum executive held a special meeting on Tuesday 5th July to discuss the suggestions which could affect Broadstone in the next few years. Our Special guest was Nick Perrins, Borough of Poole’s planning Policy Manager, who outlined the reasoning behind the current consultation on potential housing sites across the borough. Only one site, Story Lane car park, directly affects Broadstone. The suggestion that 20 homes could be built over the top of the car park is an interesting one and certainly it attracted the attention of a significant number of residents who attended a public exhibition in the Library on Wednesday 6th July.
There are a number of important points arising from the proposal: is it an appropriate location for this type of development? After all it is adjacent to a conservation area; the mass and bulk could impact upon existing properties; would the number of units contribute to the number of homes being proposed in our Draft Neighbourhood plan or would they be additional? Would there be any loss of car parking? How viable is the suggestion? All these issues were discussed at our meeting and, in addition, we made an alternative suggestion for a more comprehensive scheme which would not only provide additional parking at the Station Road car park but could also provide a similar number of homes and an area of public green space as well. Further discussions involving stakeholders, the council and residents are needed. The Forum will be making a submission to Council regarding the Story Lane proposal as well as setting out its alternative ideas. We urge everyone to get involved and respond to the consultation which does not end until 8th August. All the details can be found at http://www.poole.gov.uk/planning-and-buildings/planning/ldp/local-plan-review/
Recently registered with Poole’s Planning Department is an application to change the classification of Home Corfe House from C2 (Residential Institution) to C3 (Dwelling House). The initial information from Poole Council implied all the units within the building would be affected, but I am now able to confirm it only relates to one property. It is therefore unlikely to have any impact upon car parking in Wentworth Drive. Car parking issues have taken up a considerable amount of the Forum’s time and the Neighbourhood plan attempts to resolve some of these, though the best opportunity will be through the development of a masterplan for the central area.
The next stage in the development of the Neighbourhood Plan is temporarily delayed while we await a response from the Council to our recent consultation. In addition one of the three statutory consultees has not yet responded. This is Natural England. This organisation’s responses is critical since its comments can impact on the need for an Environmental Assessment. If one has to be produced that will mean further delays and more costs. Our policies do not, as far as we are aware, impact upon any of the internationally protected heathlands or sites of special scientific interest so we are not anticipating a problem but we would like that to be confirmed as soon as possible. We should then be in a position to submit all the documentation ready for the examination in public.
The statutory consultation period for the Broadstone Draft Neighbourhood Plan has now ended and work is well underway processing the comments received. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has contributed in any way to the consultation. Over the 6 week period Forum members have spoken to many residents about the draft plan, both in the Library, where there has been a small exhibition, and at our Saturday stand in the Broadway. Overall the response has been very positive with support for all 14 policies including the development of a masterplan. To preserve the best of Broadstone in terms of open spaces and residential character is seen as a good thing. The provision of additional housing, especially if it can provide increased opportunities for young people, is accepted. It is of course necessary to manage any increased density that may result if the overall character of Broadstone is not to be seriously compromised. The policies related to land severance and increased building height appear to hit the right balance and provide an opportunity to improve some of the worst elements of design, especially within the “village” centre. Work is currently in progress to produce a detailed road by road characterisation study. As a supplement to the plan itself, this document will establish the design features to be followed in the event of any new build within the Broadstone plan area. Detailed comments from the consultation and the Forum’s responses will be published on our website in due course. They will also become part of the Consultation Statement which will be submitted to the Independent Examiner as part of the required documentation prior to a Referendum taking place.
There has been some misunderstanding around the potential development of a master plan for the central area. To clarify, there are two options. Without a masterplan any future development of Broadstone would be totally within the control of developers and the Borough of Poole’s planning department. Residents and local businesses would have little or no say in the decisions. On the other hand a masterplan created in partnership with the community would ensure future developments reflected any long term vision the community might have. As there is no masterplan at present there are no specific proposals, though some ideas, for example a multi-storey car park and pedestrianisation, have been suggested by both residents and members of the business community. As was to be expected these have stimulated considerable debate, and I am sure will continue to do so. However, it is clear from the responses received, there is strong support for the creation of a masterplan, albeit differing views as to the content. This can be thoroughly considered during the next phase of work.
The Forum has, from the very start of the Neighbourhood Planning process, stated that no change is not an option. The recent publication (13th June) of Poole Council’s Housing proposals confirms both this and the need for a masterplan. Site A28 in Appendix 2 suggests the possibility of building 20 houses over the Story Lane car park. It is also suggested that the area within which flats would be acceptable is extended significantly beyond the limits currently approved in the Core Strategy, Poole’s key planning document. All the relevant documents can be found on the Borough’s website at http://www.poole.gov.uk/planning-and-buildings/planning/ldp/local-plan-review/ and residents are being asked to send their comments to the Council. The consultation lasts from June 13th to August 8th. We would urge you all to check out the proposals and let the Council know what you think. The Neighbourhood Forum will be submitting a response in due course. However, these proposals have the potential to affect everyone so don’t leave it to someone else. Make sure you have your say.
By the time you read this article the statutory 6 week consultation will have ended and we will have the task of collating all the comments. If appropriate, we will then modify the policies. An initial look at the comments so far received suggests a general support for all the key policies which are designed to protect and enhance the best features of Broadstone, especially the open spaces and residential character. The concept of a masterplan is also being welcomed though it is necessary to re-iterate the message that at this point in time a masterplan does not exist and that the suggestions being put forward are all open to debate. There are no proposals, at this point in time, to remove the toast-rack, pedestrianise the Broadway or build a multi-storey car park. The development of a masterplan involves detailed discussions with a wide variety of interested parties and it could take at least a year before there are any firm proposals. In the meantime the draft plan still has a number of hurdles to clear before it becomes a statutory planning document (see last month’s update for details).
The display in Broadstone Library attracted quite a lot of attention. It highlighted the key features of the draft plan, namely the vision statement and objectives, policies relating to each of the 5 themes and an introduction to the concept of a masterplan. In addition, copies of the draft plan itself were available, together with a number of background documents. These all have to be submitted to the Government Inspector prior to the examination in public as they provide the evidence that we have met the necessary conditions which underpin the neighbourhood planning process. Members of the Forum spent time over the 6 week consultation period guiding residents through the display, answering questions and listening to comments, the vast majority of which were very supportive. We also had a street stall on most Saturdays throughout April and May.
In addition to any modifications we may have to make as a result of this consultation, Forum members have three documents to finish before the end of June when it is hoped the draft plan can be submitted to Council. The first of these is the Consultation Statement which details the various consultation processes that have been undertaken by the Forum whilst developing the plan. The second document is the Evidence Base which provides an account and explanation of all the evidence that has been used. The third, and perhaps the most important, document is the detailed characterisation of Broadstone. This involves area by area and road by road descriptions of the built landscape, the identification of key design features and opportunities for development and environmental enhancement. It will become the reference document for anyone submitting a planning application and will help to ensure the plan’s policies will be followed.
It is anticipated all work will be completed by the end of June. Exactly when the Council will commence its 5 week consultation is not known, nor are the dates for the examination in public and the referendum. We are hoping that the plan will have overcome these hurdles and have been adopted by the end of this year.