Neighbourhood Development Plan

Following the decision of Balsall Parish Council to withdraw from an earlier agreement to produce a joint Neighbourhood Development Plan with their neighbours at Berkswell Parish Council, the current Chairman of the original joint Steering Committee has written to the community to clarify what this means and how things currently stand (the content of which is provided further below).

The decision of Balsall Parish Council has attracted criticism, despite their argument that this will not prevent the individual Councils from working together on important cross-boundary matters. The proliferation of departures and role changes cited by Balsall Parish Council in a Statement read out at January’s Balsall Common Village Residents Association must have caused significant frustration for those trying to move the Plan forward. However, at January’s Balsall Common Village Residents Association meeting, those present voted in favour of representations being made to Balsall Parish Council, requesting they reconsider their decision.

There will be a Neighbourhood Development Plan presentation at the next Balsall Common Village Residents meeting to be held at 7:30pm on Tuesday 7th March in The Westlake Room to the rear of the Village Hall on Station Road, Balsall Common.

What is a Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP)?

* NDPs came into being thanks to the 2011 Localism Act
* All NDPs require consultation within the local community and all resulting draft NDPs are subject to independent examination. Successful completion of this process then leads to a public referendum.
* NDPs approved (within deadline) by their local communities must be taken into consideration by the relevant Local Planning Authority
* NDPs can also earn local Parish Council’s an entitlement to funds, originating from developers, in the form of Community Infrastructure Levy payments (CILs)

There is a very good explanation of Neighbourhood Development Plans on the Royal Town Planning Insititute website, including a summary of their purpose, the powers they confer and the process by which they must be adopted:

What is Neighbourhood Planning?

Open Letter to Residents of the Parishes of Berkswell and Balsall Common, from the Chairman of the Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP) Joint Working Party Committee

Dear Resident,

The following is a news update following a meeting of the Steering Committee on Tuesday 14th February.

Balsall Parish Council has terminated the Joint NDP Agreement, making it likely there will be 2 separate Plans. Berkswell Parish Council is seeking some assurances because of the risk of a mismatch between two adjoining Parish NDPs. The current NDP Steering Committee is continuing work on a residents’ questionnaire, which would support both Parish NDPs.

Yours sincerely,

The NDP Team

Note: If you would like to receive regular updates send your request via email to: contactbbndp@gmail.com

Balsall and Berkswell Neighbourhood Development Plan [NDP]

Update as of 14th February 2017

What does that mean?
Instead of one NDP covering the whole of Balsall and Berkswell Parishes, we are now likely to have two plans, one for each Parish. Balsall Common village itself straddles both Parishes.

With Balsall Parish intending to establish a NDP for Balsall Parish area Berkswell Parish have indicated that, whilst a Joint NDP is their preferred option, they will not seek de-designation of the current NDP area without some assurances: that the Independent Examiner [a key part of the process to establish and NDP], is likely to find two NDPs acceptable, that there is agreement between the two Parishes as to how cross boundary issues will be handled and a Parish NDP is acceptable to Solihull Council.

The Joint Balsall and Berkswell NDP Steering Committee has therefore to consider during this period of uncertainty how it can remain effective and contribute to securing the benefits of a NDP for Balsall and Berkswell.

Is an NDP important?
Once an NDP is properly established, Solihull Council is obliged to have regard to the views of local residents when considering future plans. Also any developments that do take place will have the potential to benefit Parish Councils as funds, originating from the developers, can be channelled to them as part of a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). It’s therefore important for residents to continue to support an NDP for their area, even though it looks likely the two Parish Councils will no longer be producing a joint NDP.

What next?
For both Parish Councils to establish their own NDP Solihull Council will have to de-designate the current NDP area. Each Parish Council will then have to re-apply to Solihull Council to start the formal process for separate NDPs. This will all take time. So in the meantime work will go on with some Members of the Steering Group and others, to progress the design and content of a residents questionnaire. Berkswell Parish Council have said this will be of use to them and will support it, though the work will be available to both Parish Councils.

How will the NDPs be produced?
Key steps include a resident’s questionnaire to every household seeking views and gathering evidence in order to devise local policies and criteria for the NDP. A similar questionnaire needs to go to businesses in the area to learn their views. A draft NDP is then produced for consultation and after review, the draft NDP is subject to independent examination. If successfully through this stage it is then subject to a local referendum. The decision to support the Plan is based on a straight majority of those voting, with voting restricted to only those living in that Parish. If the referendum does support the Plan then it has to be considered by Solihull Council before its final adoption.

Will the two plans work together?
Both Parish Councils have indicated they want to work together as there will be much commonality between the plans. Exactly how this translates into timetables, questionnaire design and content etc is yet to be determined.

Where are the parish boundaries?
The parish boundaries in Balsall Common are historical and the boundary between Balsall Parish and Berkswell Parish is roughly the line of Green Lane and Meeting House Lane. It also looks as though it could run through the additional housing development, currently proposed in Solihull’s Draft Local Plan, between Kenilworth Road and Windmill Lane. The entire ‘neighbourhood’ however, is a large area stretching from Temple Balsall in the West; Meriden in the North and Burton Green to the South. A map showing the extent of both parishes is appended.

What’s the difference between the Solihull Draft Local Plan and an NDP?

Solihull’s Local Plan will, when finally adopted, set out the number and location of new housing, amongst other things. Currently there are something like 1150 new homes planned for Balsall Common during the next 5 to 10 years. An NDP could help influence more detailed matters: the type of homes, the layout, access arrangements and related infrastructure issues around schools, shops, community facilities, roads.

What’s the likely timeframe for an NDP?
There is some guesswork here at this time and there are specified minimum consultation periods but it is likely to be in the order of 12-18 months.

Where can I get more information?

How do I keep up to date? No doubt both Parish Councils will update their own website [balsallparishcouncil.org, berkswell.org/council] on regular basis. In addition other local communications such as the Balsall Common Village Residents’ Association [BCVRA] Communicator, Berkswell Society newsletter, The Bugle will all carry information on relevant developments. If you wish to be added to the BCVRA Communicator Newsletter circulation list, please email feedback@balsallcommonresidents.org. For the Berkswell Society, please sign up on http://eepurl.com/hplOA.

What happens to this current NDP email group?
Members of the current NDP Steering Group are looking at whether, subject to any data protection rules, this email group also remains a method of communication. You can unsubscribe at anytime.

What happens to Members of the Steering Committee?
Most if not all of the Steering Committee [including representatives from BCVRA, Berkswell Society, local schools and potentially others] see the benefit of cross parish partnership working and, if two NDPs are to be produced, they are prepared to offer their support to both Parish Councils in preparing their own NDPs. It is important to remember that this is your NDP, organised formally through your Parish Council, your views are vitally important and need to be expressed if an NDP is to be ratified.

What happens to data already collected?
All existing data from focus groups, community evens, public meetings will be available to both Parish Councils – and we are very grateful to all those local residents who have contributed and participated.

Where do I send feedback now?
For the time being we would suggest you send any feedback either to your Parish Council and or the Balsall Common Village Residents Association, [feedback@balsallcommonresidents.org], even if you live in Berkswell village or the rural part of either parish.

Malcolm Hickin
Chairman, 14/2/17