Purpose – Housing Location
David George, chairman of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group, outlined the purpose of the Neighbourhood Plan, and how input from local people is essential for the town’s future. If the Basingstoke and Deane Local Plan is approved, the town will need to find land for 350 new homes. Land at Bloswood Lane is already allocated for 150 of these, with the Neighbourhood Plan determining where the remaining 200 should go.
David explained how this will require considerable teamwork, research and interaction with the community in order to build up a credible ‘evidence base’ for the decisions. Above all he said “it will be fun”. It was also noted that the Plan area was the Parish of Whitchurch and not just the town area.
Four preliminary public meetings had already been held where residents indicated the main topics to be considered in determining the housing areas, with traffic and parking being high in people’s interest. In addition liaison had already taken place with Basingstoke and Deane Council and with local industry, and there were plans for wider local involvement through questionnaires and online surveys over the approximate 18-month timetable. Reference was made to the town’s Design Statement of 2004 and how that will be closely aligned to the Plan (link below).
Progress and the future
It was stressed that the ‘evidence base’ needs to show significant community involvement before it can be accepted, prior to a local Referendum being held on the final Plan’s content. It was also suggested that those involved were probably best to be impartial on town matters to ensure accurate and fair collection of data.
Support is essential
The Steering Committee is looking for volunteers to take on key roles either in lead or supportive ad hoc roles, in subjects such as housing, industry, traffic, and infrastructure. It is also looking for support for running events, fundraising, IT help and logging the evidence, as well as numerous other tasks. It was very encouraging that several people came forward with a meeting planned for 16th October.
There was also confirmation that all minutes, documents and information will be placed on the new Neighbourhood Plan website in the quest for transparency.
David closed the meeting thanking everyone for their support saying that he was:
“delighted at the turn out and pleased to see a doubling of the committee size which provides a sound basis on which to proceed.”
The Presentation Slides are here: Whitchurch Neighbourhood Volunteers Meeting
The Whitchurch Design Statement is here: Whitchurch Design Statement
The Plan’s website is here: Whitchurch Neighbourhood Plan