With the Forum’s next Annual General Meeting fast approaching – it takes place on Thursday 31st March in St. John’s Church Hall at 7.30pm – it seems an appropriate time to reflect on our first three years before looking to the future.
What is the Forum, why did it come into existence, and what has it been doing?
The Broadstone Neighbourhood Forum is a fully constituted organisation whose committee works with other organisations for the benefit of Broadstone residents. It was formed, like all other Forums across the Country, as a direct response to the Government’s Localism Act of 2011. This permitted Neighbourhood Forums to be established where Parish or Town Councils did not exist. Once established, a Neighbourhood Forum can develop a Local Plan which then becomes an integral part of the planning system. It enables local people to have a greater say in planning decisions as well as contribute to a locality’s future development. Growing dissatisfaction with Borough of Poole planning decisions acted as a motivator and led to an application for approval being submitted to the Borough of Poole in September 2012. The application was finally approved in February 2013 when Broadstone Neighbourhood Forum became the first such Forum in Poole. Poole Quays Forum was approved shortly afterwards and today these are the only two to have been established within the Borough. Since approval was granted members have been involved in producing a Neighbourhood Plan in line with our vision statement and core objectives.
Our very first public meeting was held on May 4th 2013 as part of the Step into Broadstone Day organised by the Chamber of Trade. During the day a continuous stream of residents visited our displays in St. John’s Church Hall, engaged in discussions and raised issues that were of concern including parking, traffic congestion, housing provision, protecting the environment and improving the Broadway and pedestrian/cyclist access. From this session we were able to develop a vision for Broadstone which has underpinned all our work since then. We have held further consultation events, taken part in the Family Fun Days, submitted comments on the McCarthy and Stone planning application, gaining some improvements to the design as well as a guarantee that the informal footpath between Macaulay Road and Dunyeats Road would be retained. We have contributed to the current review of Poole’s Core Strategy and most recently have led a petition against the proposal for traffic lights to replace the Crematorium roundabout. That petition gained almost 3,000 signatures. We have recently learned that the roundabouts will now stay.
In addition to these activities we have been carrying out a series of surveys collecting evidence to support the evolving Neighbourhood Plan and its policies. You will recall the major consultation last summer when we had 5,000 leaflets delivered across the whole of Broadstone. We have analysed the responses, and as a result, have rewritten much of the content, redrafted some of the plan’s policies and produced some new ones. We have only been able to carry out all this work as a result of two successful bids for Government funding, totalling £14,920.
After three years the Broadstone Neighbourhood Plan is virtually finished. We intend to launch our second and most important community wide consultation at the Annual General Meeting. Not only will the completed plan and some of the supporting documents be on display for the very first time but there will be two important and potentially challenging presentations. Much can happen to Broadstone between now and 2031. Without a plan we will have little say but with the plan there is an opportunity to manage what happens and help create a vibrant, welcoming, safe and sustainable Broadstone that we can all enjoy living in.
Mike Brooke, Chair, Broadstone Neighbourhood Forum.