Community workshops another great step forward for Effingham Neighbourhood Plan

A dedicated group of some 40 residents of Effingham braved cold and rain last Saturday to take part in community workshops on the number of new homes needed in the village, and where they should be built. The workshops, open to anyone in the civil parish, were organised by Effingham Parish Council as the next step in the preparation of a Neighbourhood Plan, moving towards the first formal consultation process in May.

Led by parish councillor Paula Moss, the participants considered the results of a Housing Requirements Survey, which suggested around 52 new two-bedroom and one-bedroom homes were needed in the parish, to meet the needs of young families and older couples wanting to down-size. Allowing for some three-bedroom homes as well, the draft Neighbourhood Plan proposes a target of 62 new homes to meet the requirements of Effingham residents, to be built over 15 years.

Recent government guidance on housing targets for Neighbourhood Plans means Guildford Borough’s strategic housing need must also be taken into account, but the constraints of Green Belt limit the number of homes that Effingham can reasonably provide. Sixteen possible sites for new homes were examined and scored using criteria including Green Belt policy, a preference for using previously-developed land, the impact on Effingham’s Conservation Area, traffic implications, the effect on wildlife and potential flooding problems. Following sometimes lively discussion, participants voted in favour of four of the possible sites, enough to accommodate the target number of homes.

Cllr Moss says

“It was very encouraging that so many residents were prepared to give up three hours of their time on a wet Saturday to think hard about the future they wanted for the village. Some residents argued passionately that their children and other young people wanted to stay in the village and needed homes they could afford. Others were equally passionate about wanting to protect our Green Belt countryside.”

“The Neighbourhood Plan needs to get the balance right on the housing target and on allocating land where homes can be built. With support from residents, the Plan can provide the homes we need for a thriving community whilst still protecting our countryside and the character of our beautiful rural village and parish.”

Following nearly three years of consultation with residents, detailed technical discussion with Borough Council planners, and much hard work from local volunteers, the emerging Neighbourhood Plan is heading for formal ‘Regulation 14’ consultation in May. This will include a parish-wide survey, with every household in Effingham receiving a summary of the proposed Plan and a survey form to give their opinion of the Plan. More public events will be held in the run-up to the consultation, including drop-in sessions on draft policies on Environment, Design and Conservation, Community, Infrastructure and the Local Economy. Open to all Effingham residents, details of the sessions can be found on the Village Plan website

To include the widest range of views on the process, the Parish Council has set up the Effingham Neighbourhood Plan Advisory Group (ENPAG) to advise the Parish Council and make recommendations on the final Plan and consultation. As well as parish councillors, ENPAG members have wide experience and come from different parts of the Effingham community, including schools, churches, environment and conservation groups and Effingham Residents Association.

ENPAG will meet at least once a month, scrutinising the draft Neighbourhood Plan policies and making recommendations for consideration by the Parish Council at its monthly meeting. A particularly important task for ENPAG will be to consider the implications of Guildford’s draft Local Plan, now expected to be published at the beginning of April. The Neighbourhood Plan must by law be consistent with the Local Plan, which sets the strategic planning framework across the Borough.

Cllr Arnold Pindar, the Chairman of Effingham Parish Council, says:

“It has been a long hard road to reach this point in our Neighbourhood Plan, with the planning context from both Government and the Borough Council changing regularly over the three years since we started out. I am immensely grateful both to the volunteers from the community and to parish councillors for all the work they have already put in to draft a very impressive Plan, and look forward to seeing the results of the Advisory Group’s scrutiny and review of the draft before we go out to consultation with the wider community.”

A copy of the presentation can be read by clicking on the link below:

presentation feb 13th workshop v3 100216

And the slides from the exhibitions:

Saturday 13th Site review day v4 100216