27th July 2016

CENTRAL BEDS LOCAL PLAN

CBC are currently consulting on the local plan and now is time to have your say.

Log on to Central Bedfordshire web page and the local plan technical consultation will come up on front page. Click on this, then on item 6 scroll down and click on 'Have your say on the consultation.'

The technical assessment is not very clear but we would urge that you do try and complete, and if you find it not that clear or easy to understand that you state this in the comments boxes provided 'in your own words please', it's very important that they don't think we have filled in many by the same person. Also make it clear if it's very important to you.

Thank you

Stanbridge PC

 

Technical assessment consultation

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Background

We launched the Local Plan in February 2016 and the ‘Call for Sites’, which ran until April 2016, was one of the first steps. The Call for Sites was an opportunity for agents, landowners and developers to submit land which they believe could be developed to meet future demand for homes and jobs. The full list of approximately 830 sites that were submitted was published on 25th May 2016.

What is being consulted on?

Technical site assessment criteria have been produced so that we can evaluate all of the sites that have been submitted. We are asking for comments on these three sets of criteria. 

  •          Site Assessment Criteria for Housing 
  •          Site Assessment Criteria for Gypsy and Traveller Sites 
  •          Site Assessment Criteria for Strategic Employment Sites

How do residents and stakeholders give feedback?

Comments can be made by completing the online survey form before 5pm on 29th July 2016.

There was a previous consultation on the housing assessment criteria from February – April 2016 How have these comments been used?

The comments that we received in response to this initial consultation were used alongside comments from officers internally to shape the criteria that are being consulted on now. A schedule of changes will be available on the website showing how these responses have been taken into account.

How will the Housing Site Assessment Criteria be used?

The housing site assessment criteria will be used to assess sites to see whether they are ‘suitable’, ‘available’ and ‘achievable’. National guidance requires us to do this and the outcomes of this will be collated in an evidence document called the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA).

Crucially, the sites that come through this process will not then automatically become the draft housing allocations in the Local Plan as the SHLAA is just one of a number of technical evidence documents that will be used determine the most sustainable locations for growth. The evidence base includes the results of public consultation, the Sustainability Appraisal and the strategic growth options studies. 

How will the Gypsy and Traveller and Employment Site Assessment Criteria be used?

Like the housing criteria, these two sets of criteria will be used to provide a technical assessment of the sites. The sites that are selected for development will also be informed by the wider evidence base for the Local Plan.

Next Steps

The opportunity for residents and stakeholders to comment on the options for growth will begin in December when the first draft of the Local Plan is published for comment. Please see the Questions and Answersfor further details about the Local Plan process.

 

25th April 2014

Regular updates are continuing to be placed on the Discusions Forum by Paul

  

14th April 2014

 Please be aware that to the best of our knowledge, Site 114 (land near the Rugby club) has been withdrawn from sale and is no longer on the current CBC G&T plan.  The Parish Council have written to obtain confirmation from the County Council on this matter. 

 The Parish Council and the local Focus Group continue to monitor this situation and are committed to supporting the other Parishes surrounding our village with regard to authorised and unauthorised pitches.  This is due to the increasing numbers which we don't believe are sustainable in these small communities.  Whilst understanding the need and legal commitments for continued growth for G & T communities, it is felt to be unfair that they should all be given land in such a localised area alone.

 Currently we have approx. 150 pitches within 4 mile radius of Stanbridge Church.  This represents approx 60% of the 247 pitches authorised to date by CBC - 67 authorised pitches alone in Billington. 

 Further updates will be posted on the webpage as we become aware of them.  CBC are currently outlining the new G&T plan which will cover the increase in numbers up to 2031.  A further 131 pitches are required in Bedfordshire for that period (this represents a 2% growth) plus 25 pitches for Travelling Showpeople.  The plan is due for completion by 31st Jan 2014 with a consultation period in Feb/March 2014. 

 

UPDATE 17th January 2014

Please be aware that to the best of our knowledge, Site 114 (land near the Rugby club) has been withdrawn from sale and is no longer on the current CBC G&T plan.  The Parish council have written to obtain confirmation from the County Council on this matter.

The Parish Council and the local Focus Group continue to monitor this situation and are committed to supporting the other Parishes surrounding our village with regard to authorised and unauthorised pitches.  This is due to the increasing numbers which we don't believe are sustainable in these small communities.  Whilst understanding the need and legal commitments for continued growth for G & T communities, it is felt to be unfair that they should all be given land in such a localised area alone.

Currently we have approx. 150 pitches within 4 mile radius of Stanbridge Church.  This represents approx 60% of the 247 pitches authorised to date by CBC - 67 authorised pitches alone in Billington.

Further updates will be posted on the webpage as we become aware of them.  CBC are currently outlining the new G&T plan which will cover the increase in numbers up to 2031.  A further 131 pitches are required in Bedfordshire for that period (this represents a 2% growth) plus 25 pitches for Travelling Showpeople.  The plan is due for completion by 31st Jan 2014 with a consultation period in Feb/March 2014. The plan is then to be adopted by December 2014.

 

UPDATE - 4 March 2013

Representatives of the Parish attended the meeting of the Sustainable Communities Overview & Scrutiny Committee at Central Bedfordshire Council on Thursday 28th February 2013.

Local media has publicised the seven sites short-listed for Gypsy & Traveller allocation within the county, however Stanbridge is in a slightly different position given that their potential site allocation is for Travelling Showpersons and has therefore been considered as a separate matter. Clerk, Mrs Lesley Hall, and Planning Advisor, Phillippa Jarvis, spoke in opposition to the proposed site (referred to as site 114), as did Mark Versallion the Ward Councillor. Mr Craig Smith spoke in support of his application to purchase the site and accommodate both the needs of his business and family within the community. It is fair to say that his presentation was articulate and well received (he was the only person to speak on behalf of either the Gypsy, Traveller or Travelling Showperson Community at this meeting).

A total of two sites had been put forward as potentially suitable for Travelling Showpersons. Site 82, in Biggleswade, was agreed with no opposition. The Committee were made aware, at the last minute, that further options to site 114 within the local area could be potentially viable. These include the possibility of a further private site (location unknown at this stage), and also a reserve site at Thorn. The Committee therefore agreed to defer any further decision until such time as investigations into the sustainability and suitability of these options can be assessed. A decision is expected around the 19th March. The focus group that was set up prior to the meeting on the 28th will continue to meet and ensure the Parish is fully prepared when the CBC make its announcement.  

As we have distributed all the information we have so far, and there is nothing more we can do for now, to ensure the Parish Council can administer the rest of the Parish business, the showpersons site will not be on the agenda of the next parish meeting. Instead, a separate meeting for all residents will be held dedicated purely to the showpersons site, once CBC have made a decision and we have more information to give out.  Rest assured, at this meeting, every resident will have the opportunity to ask questions and have their say. In the meantime, if any residents have specific skills or knowledge on this subject that they feel could benefit the focus group, should we need to take further action, please contact the Parish Council Chairman.

We would urge residents to continue with their professional and constructive approach to this matter to enable us to retain integrity and respect at a time when it is needed most.

On the 18th March, CBDC held an executive meeting to decide which traveller sites, including those for travelling showpeople, should go through to stage 4 of the selection process. Site 114 on Billington Road was not on that list. However, a caveat has been added delegating authority to re-include the site at any time before the current plan is adopted and enabling it to be considered as a possible future windfall site - which is defined as a site which has not come forward in the local plan process but has the ability to be developed for the purpose(s) now being sought. Although this is generally good news, it does mean the Parish Council will need to continue to watch the whole process very carefully. In the meantime, the Parish Council, assisted by residents of the village, are continuing to work to ensure that should site 114 be considered again in the future then we are in a position to respond. Please continue to watch the notice board and the parish website for further updates.

 

UPDATE – 27 February 2013

Following on from the previous leaflet distribution, with the help of some concerned residents who have come forward, the Parish Council has set up a small focus group to look into all aspects of the proposed traveller’s site on Billington Road and start to put a case together to express our concerns to the appropriate authorities.  Part of our action plan was to gather support for the meeting to be held on the 28th February, all of which is outlined in the Parish leaflet recently distributed.

However, since writing that leaflet, we, along with all the other parishes have received the following email

To all Town and Parish Councils,

On February 28th, Members of the Council's Overview and Scrutiny Committee for Sustainable Communities will be considering a report on the Gypsy and Traveller Local Plan and the findings of the Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment (2013). The report sets out the results of the site assessment process and seeks a recommendation from Members to the Executive regarding the most suitable sites to meet requirements for the numbers of pitches in Central Bedfordshire up to 2031. This issue has provoked considerable public interest and we have received several queries regarding attendance at the meeting.

We are aware that there are likely to be a significant number of people who may wish to attend and we intend to take every measure possible to maintain safe and fair access to the process. Such measures include providing additional seating in the Council Chamber itself. We are also arranging for the meeting to be filmed and broadcast live to the canteen area of the Council offices. This will allow as many people as possible to attend, within the limits of our capacity for health and safety.

These arrangements will enable approximately 180 members of the public, including those registered to speak, to attend the meeting.

Should we experience a greater number of residents wishing to attend than this we will unfortunately not be able to accommodate them.

If you are in contact with local residents who have expressed an intention to attend, it would be very helpful if you could alert them to these arrangements, particularly with regard to restrictions on the maximum number of attendees. Residents may wish to car-share to alleviate pressures on the car park or ask that their councillor attend the meeting to represent their views on their behalf.

Kindest regards

Jonathon Partridge

Scrutiny Policy Adviser

Corporate Services (People & Organisation)

On the basis of this, we suggest anyone who is thinking of attending the meeting to bear this in mind as they are expecting over 500 people for the 180 seats.  Stanbridge Parish has 2 speaking slots as well as a slot for the Ward Councillor, and so we have plenty of opportunity to put our case forward to the committee.

It is important to understand that this is only stage 3 of a very long process.  Public consultation does not officially start until stage 4.  We are taking this opportunity to get in early to make sure the committee understand our concerns.  Of course, we will work hard to try and make sure the Stanbridge site is one of the 13  sites to be removed from the  ‘long list’, but, in a bid to manage expectation, despite all our best efforts, there is a possibility we will go through  to stage 4.  If that happens, there will be a formal process of consultations through which we will ensure your voice is heard.

In the meantime, if you are interested in joining the focus group, have some facts you feel could assist us, or just want to show your support, please contact any of the Parish Councillors.

In preparation for the meeting on the 28th February to decide which of the remaining 32 traveller sites would be on the short list of 20, the Stanbridge focus group met Monday night to confirm our strategy.  The main objective of the evening was to approve the most important points that we can bring to the committee’s attention in the 3 minutes we have to put our view across.

Below are the agreed headlines, although we do have further expert opinion that will be contributing tomorrow:

Sustainability of site – no electric, gas, sewerage etc.  No footpaths linking proposed site to village centre/school. 

  1. Speeding /safety of HGVs
  2. The Village School
  3. The number of traveller sites already in the area
  4. The scoring of the proposed site doesn’t seem to be consistent with others in the region, particularly in regard to walking       distance to schools etc.
  5. This site has been added to the list of potential locations at a very late stage.

 

Obviously we expand these to give the required detail.

The 6 volunteers attending the meeting on your behalf will be getting up very early too secure seats in what is going to be a chaotic atmosphere.  Although I am sure many of you may wish to attend the meeting, our recommendation is please do not; leave it to the focus group at this stage.

 

There are very many other valid challenges to this site, and these will all be brought forward during the official public consultation period of stage 4 if we are unlucky to be included in the short list of 20.  A few words about stage 4 - The public consultation will run until May/June time, so there is plenty of time to sort out our best plan.  The Parish Council, aided by the focus group, and some local experts, will not be rushed into a knee jerk reaction.  We will endeavour to let you know the result of the meeting on the 28th as soon as we can, but if the decision is unfavourable, there will be a short period of 2-3 weeks while the Parish Council gather together the facts before any further announcements.  Once we have confirmed what needs to be done, there will be a village meeting for all residents where we will brief you on what the situation is, and start to gather all the evidence we need.  At this stage we will ensure every villager will have the opportunity to have their say, and contribute as much or as little as they like.  The help, enthusiasm and contributions by the village as a whole has been excellent over the last week or so, and we will look to harness this at the right time.

Despite the very short notice, a lot of people have worked very hard to put our best case forward on the 28th, so fingers crossed, this will be successful; either way we will be in touch as soon after the meeting as possible.