Although the Neighbourhood Plan is being lead by the Town Council, it is actually administered and driven by a Steering Group.
The Steering Group is made up of members of the Town Council, Leaders of the Focus Groups and other individuals with relevant experience or skills. The number of members of the group has varied through the lifetime of the plan as the workload has varied. We have also been happy to have the assistance of research students looking to understand how a Neighbourhood Plan is created in "real life".
The Steering Group have applied for (and recieved) grants and practical support to help fund and complete the project. Further grants and support are expected to be available before the Plan is complete.
What is a Neighbourhood Plan?
A Neighbourhood Plan is a relatively new aspect of the Planning system, in fact we were only the 2nd Council to start on one within the MDDC area (Cullumpton applied a week before Crediton).
In Crediton we fall under the Mid Devon District Council planning department and they have planning policies which they have to apply across the area regardless of the local conditions. The Neighbourhood Plan allows a local community to develop planning policies specifically tailored for their area.
Why is the Town Council planning on spending 2 years doing this?
We are 5 years into this two year project! Put simplythere are various planning issues that the Town Council feel could be improved if a Neighbourhood Plan was in place. As a Neighbourhood Plan adds an extra aspect to the planning regulations there are various safeguards and checks which have to be in place. These safeguards and checks include an Independent examination and a public referendum, all of which takes time. We could spend many thousands of pounds employing consultants and having people write the plan on our behalf, which would reduce the time it takes. As we have the talent and experience within the town we prefer to have a very personal and "Crediton" influenced plan. The delay in completing the plan is largely due to the delays in MDDC getting their new Local Plan approved (the Crediton Neighbourhood Plan is designed to be read alongside the new Local Plan).
What can a Neighbourhood Plan achieve?
The first thing that needs to be said is that a Neighbourhood Plan can't be in conflict with the MDDC Local Plan - if an area is designated for Housing (for example) a Neighbourhood Plan can't change that to some other use...but it could influence the type and style of the housing that was built.
There aren't any areas of planning that a Neighbourhood Plan couldn't influence, so the best approach is to identify issues within Crediton and then see if we can create Planning policies which will address the issue. - For example the is an issue about the lack of pavement on Mill Street between Morrisons and Blagdon. A Neighbourhood Plan could require any future development of land alongside a road to include a footpath.
The Neighbourhood Plan can be as specific or as wide reaching as we want to make it - from a single issue (such as pavements) or it could address many different issues. Initially we need to identify the issues within the town so we can create the planning policies which will address them.
Only a handful of Neighbourhood Plans nationally have been completed, but Thame in South Oxfordshire is a market town facing many similar issues that we face in Crediton. Their Neighbourhood Plan was adopted just over a year ago. If you want to see an example of the sort of Neighbourhood Plan we could achieve, or the sort of policies they have adopted to address their issues, they have a very useful page on their website where you can download resources. Other Neighbourhood Plans and related websites can be found on our new "Links" page.
Will it make any difference?
The Neighbourhood Plan will be a legal part of the planning process. Any planning application will be judged by its compliance with the Neighbourhood Plan (and other policies). Applications will be refused if they do not comply. This is where Neighbourhood Plans differ from other previous schemes. The Plan won't be a quick fix but can aim to tackle the problems of the town by removing the conditions which are causing/contributing to the problems.
The Neighbourhood Plan is made by the people of Crediton, for the benefit of the people of Crediton. Please get involved and have your say, this is your chance to shape the future!
Where will the Neighbourhood Plan apply?
The Neighbourhood Plan will apply to the whole area inside the Crediton Town boundary. In addition to the obvious town area, the town boundary includes land to the south of the built up area.
As the plan will apply to all development within the designated area we had hoped to include the Pedlars Pool area which is identified in the MDDC Local Plan as an area earmarked for future residential Town expansion. Also not all of the built up area of Crediton falls within the Town boundary, part of Westernlea is technically outside of Crediton. In both cases the neighbouring Parish Councils (Sandford PC and Crediton Hamlets PC) didn't wish to engage with Crediton Town Council with respect to including these areas in the Neighbourhood Plan.