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Parish plan holds firm

Posted on September 30 2018 at 3:03:30

The grassroots initiative giving villagers a say in planning strategy is pressing ahead despite efforts by a number of housing developers to delay its progress.

The Alvechurch Parish Neighbourhood Plan is the first in this area to take advantage of powers under the move towards “localism” created by Parliament seven years ago.

Once adopted, it becomes part of the planning process, which is why the developers circling the village are keen to influence its contents.

They have submitted representations during the six week “Regulation 16” response window before the plan goes to an inspector for the next stage of approval.

The developers between them control enough land surrounding the village to almost double the number of homes in the parish.

Some of them are urging the parish to delay the Neighbourhood Plan until Bromsgrove District Council has carried out its proposed review of the Green Belt, or to amend it to include preferred future building sites currently within the Green Belt.

As feared, and despite it having no standing in planning policy, the GL Hearn “Barntchurch” report is referenced at length by the would-be developer of at least two of the sites.

Neighbourhood Plan steering group member Coun Adrian Smith told Alvechurch Parish Council: “There have been quite a few big developers looking at sites around Alvechurch for the future. They are being opportunistic at the moment.”

Coun John Cypher, another steering group member, added: “Some of the developers were wanting to use the revised national policy to make us hold back, so that some of the sites they were keen to promote could be included in the Neighbourhood Plan.

“But Matt Stanczyszyn’s advice was to press ahead and get it done.”

Mr Stanczyszyn is the Neighbourhood Plan group’s contact at Bromsgrove District Council, which oversees its creation and adoption.

If approved by the inspector, the district will hold a referendum across Alvechurch parish to seal the approval of villagers.

Coun Cypher said: “With a fair wind, Bromsgrove is suggesting that the referendum could take place by the end of the year.”

The parish council agreed to extend the role of the Neighbourhood Plan steering group to look at the “issues and options” under consideration for Bromsgrove’s plan.

See also: The Housebuilders’ Neighbourhood Plan

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