Chairman’s Report – 2016 AGM

Annual Report – Broadstone Neighbourhood Forum 2016

This last year has been something of a roller coaster ride. With financial help from the Government we were able to prepare for the first major Forum-wide consultation. We had a number of draft policies in place and our consultants, Boyle and Summers, had prepared a number of options for improving the Toast Rack. This was supposed to be what is called the Regulation 14 Consultation which is a statutory consultation, without which a Neighbourhood Plan cannot proceed. The first hiccup came when part of the on-line reporting system failed to work correctly. This impacted on the responses so we extended the consultation period and provided alternative ways of submitting comments. In the end we had a reasonably satisfactory outcome with a better response rate than the council often gets with its consultations.

All the responses were read, tabulated and where appropriate absorbed into the plan through adjustments to the policies. Unfortunately the options outcome presented us with a more significant problem since the one favoured by those who had responded was the least favoured by the council. To proceed with either options could have meant a rejection of the plan, either because it would have been regarded as unsound by the council and so not progressed to public inspection, or passing through inspection would be rejected by the public. We therefore had to find a way round this problem.

A further set back arose following a meeting we had with council officers who had decided the consultation did not comply with Regulation 14 because insufficient background information had been provided and the document was more like a standard questionnaire. Needless to say this set us back and our time frame had to be adjusted.

We did, however, receive good news following a further grant application for government funding. We received £7,920 to rework the plan, policies and options and carry out a second Regulation 14 consultation. Further good news came out of additional discussions with the council – the conflict arising from the differing views of the options could be resolved through a totally different approach. By including a policy that allowed us to develop a separate Masterplan at a later date, we no longer had to include options in the plan itself. We could therefore move forward again with the Neighbourhood Plan ready for the necessary area-wide consultation. I am pleased to say this is where we are now at and the presentation this evening represents the launch of the Draft Neighbourhood Plan and consultation.

Although the end of the road is in sight we still have a lot of work to do to ensure the plan passes both the Public Inspection and the final Referendum. If we hit no more snags Broadstone could have its plan in place by the end of this year. I would like to take this opportunity to thank members of the Forum’s executive for their continued commitment to this process and for the time and effort put in to ensure every hurdle has been successfully overcome. I would also like to thank Broadstone’s residents for their contributions over the last three years. Without these there would be no underlying evidence base to give validity to the policies within the plan.