Hear our Mayor, Councillor Jon Cousins, speak to reporter Paul Lund about his enthusiasm for Glastonbury’s Neighbourhood Plan and why residents should get involved.
What is a Neighbourhood Plan?
Put simply, it is a community-led framework for guiding the future development of Glastonbury. To include development, regeneration and conservation. A neighbourhood plan is about the use and development of land, incorporating a vision, aspirations, aims and proposals for improving the area or providing new facilities. It may also deal with a wide range of social, economic and environmental issues, such as housing, employment and heritage. Glastonbury has a number of unique issues to contend including the flood risk zones on the edge of town and the large number of historic sites.
A neighbourhood plan on completion will be part of the statutory plan for the area, if successful at referendum. This statutory status gives this plan far more weight than previous plans such as the one completed in 2006.
Our plan must comply with legislation and will have regard to national policy and in general will have conformity with local planning policy. This opportunity is very exciting, as if completed successfully, will introduce policies local to Glastonbury.
Glastonbury Town Council and in particular the Neighbourhood Planning Steering Group is expected to provide a robust and thorough consultation exercise.
Yet there is one missing ingredient – YOU! We really do need your help. Please get involved when asked for your thoughts either at consultation events or questionnaires. The ambition is to research the plan during the remainder of 2016, assess the responses and engage again with residents in early 2017, before writing the plan for presentation to Mendip DC and an independent examiner. If all goes well, we hope to provide an opportunity for residents to vote at a referendum in early 2018.
Housing Needs Survey
It would be difficult to understand the future residential needs of Glastonbury’s population without first asking for their input. Therefore it is proposed that we undertake a local Housing Needs Survey. This will take the form of a questionnaire to establish housing need. Survey work is normally carried out by a housing enabler which because it is carried out independently, ensures the legitimacy of the survey. The Community Council for Somerset have been asked to apply for funding on our behalf to conduct a thorough Housing Needs Survey on our behalf. If all goes according to plan, you can expect to receive a postal survey in the autumn with the results analysed and a report published hopefully around the turn of the year. This level of evidence is required to support Exception Site schemes. The affordable housing need identified is then used to look for suitable development sites.
When undertaking a neighbourhood plan, we are encouraged to look beyond housing needs and incorporate our ideas on the facilities that support living in Glastonbury. This will include community buildings. St Dunstan’s House, which is adjacent to the Town Hall has recently been purchased by the Town Council. There is an opportunity here to create and deliver something special for the town. As yet, it is not known what the building will be used for. You can expect to see advertised locally events that will enable you to have your input on what should be done with it. Exciting times!
Gerard Tucker has been appointed to help with the research and preparation of the plan. He brings his long experience of public service in Somerset to this role, having served as Chairman of the Langport Area Development Trust, Economic Development Team Leader for South Somerset District Council, Centre Manager at Yeovil Innovation Centre and Investment Manager of Into Somerset.