[Text originally appeared in The Hoot magazine November 2020]
Since the last edition, the NP steering group have been running an online survey on public rights of way and active travel routes within the Parish. We have had a flurry of responses and what came across was how important all the routes are to us. It was clear that we all value our footpaths for exercise, the views, as connections, for safety (avoiding the non-pavemented roads) and for meeting others. The Route that generated the most interest and comments was, not surprisingly, ‘the allotment path’, connecting The Pound with the Village centre. It was cited as the most important path in the village, by numerous respondents for its connectivity, all weather surface, openness, views and safety. It has been in use for over 40yrs and many generations of families have used it as a route to and from the school. Some improvements to the surface and extra lighting would make this the best path in Bromham. Close behind for popularity of comments was bridleway ‘Stoney Lane’, which, despite the section of slippery cobbles and overgrowth, did not deter us from using this path to connect to Chittoe, Westbrook and beyond. This route was special because it evoked memories from childhood and past history.
Also, around Bromham we have our informal paths that have been in use for decades. They have become part of our village life, serving as connections and for daily exercise offering safe alternatives to the road for access to school/busy kids and allotments. Everyone valued their informal paths for the amazing views and as a place to meet others. If you want to see more detail, the reports on Routes, Bridleways and Informal Paths are available here.
Thank you to everyone who completed the online survey about the draft Vision and Objectives for our neighbourhood plan. At the time of writing 36 people have completed it, and so despite our moving on to consultation in other areas we will keep this survey open for a while yet – to give others a chance to contribute ideas.
It is encouraging that of those who responded over 80% either ‘strongly agreed’ or ‘agreed’ with the draft vision. The specific comments raised against the draft vision were:
I would like to see small housing developments across the whole Parish area.
Public Right of Way alleys need cleaning and maintaining to acceptable standards. I use them a lot and many are in a deplorable state
The vision sounds idyllic. I hope it’s achievable and isn’t compromised for financial gains.
Whilst it makes a good start, I am hoping the final version will be wider and encompass all age ranges.
New housing is not necessary
No mention of the growing population of horse owners and riders within the village. Connecting bridleways
When asked to select which were the most important objectives, with the option to select more than one, the support for each was as follows:
53% for Draft objective 1: Ensure that any new housing development contains the right type and mix of properties, including affordable and market value housing to meet the identified needs of the whole community.
61% for Draft objective 2: Protect and enhance the character and local distinctiveness of the area by ensuring that any new development is at an appropriate scale, is in keeping with the character of the parish and is to a high quality of design.
22% for Draft objective 3: Reduce carbon emissions and ensure that future development contributes to Wiltshire Council’s carbon reduction aims and Bromham community’s resilience with respect to climate change.
28% for Draft objective 4: Protect existing employment sites in the parish, and encourage the provision of high-quality employment space allowing flexibility for businesses to start, grow, and stay in Bromham.
47% for Draft objective 5: Retain and improve options for walking, cycling and using public transport within the parish and for access to local towns.
67% for Draft objective 6: Protect existing community facilities and support their future enhancement.
67% for Draft objective 7: Protect and enhance our natural environment, including our important green spaces, by formally designating them as Local Green Space.
The specific comments raised against the objectives were:
Retaining our young people by somehow providing suitable opportunities to affordably live here.
They sound good. Could it include under 3. Something about charging points in car parks for electric vehicles?
I share and totally agree with these objectives. I look forward to hearing concrete measures
Single people & couples also have a right to be able to afford to remain in the village once they leave their parental home. 1 and 2 bed houses for affordable rent is essential alongside family homes. Private rent is not affordable to most people in the village – even with both parties working, unfortunately if both are working they will find it almost impossible to be housed via the local authority and are forced to move out of the village to find homes that they can afford.
The new houses by the greyhound were out of budget for a lot of people who live in the village but want an upgrade so maybe more affordable homes would keep people moving into town
Objective 2 I am not sure this area has had too much character built into it over recent years so it will be difficult to describe our style/character. Unless the objective is to build mismatch then this cannot be set out. Reword may fit better.
Objective 3 why not designate our own carbon reduction plans and to make them wide ranging including all including farms etc.
Objective 5 please include horse riders alongside walkers and cyclists
If in reading this you feel that your opinions have not been expressed then please get in touch via our Facebook group, the contact page here or by completing the online survey.
With the COVID-19 lockdown the steering group were forced to cancel the planned community coffee morning consultation on progress to date. We are however continuing in our evidence gathering and are launching a series of online consultations in the coming weeks and months.
The first online consultation will look at the draft vision and objectives which the steering group has drawn up based on previous community engagement. This will be launched in early May.
Meanwhile the response to the COVID-19 situation in Bromham has showed just what a strong and caring community we have. A big thank you to everyone who is helping to support their neighbours through this difficult time.
As you may know, Bromham Parish Council have started work on a Neighbourhood Plan, which, once in place will be used in the determination of planning applications within the Parish. Neighbourhood Plans are community-led documents for guiding future development within an area. Our Plan could cover local issues such as housing, employment, heritage, local character and transport.
Planning policies within the Neighbourhood Plan must be based on sound local evidence. At the moment, the Steering Group is working on collecting local evidence related to important green spaces, walking and cycling links, community facilities and local employment in the parish.
The Plan must be based on a proper understanding of Bromham Parish and reflect the views and aspirations of the community, so local evidence – your ideas and comments – are really important.
We are planning a drop-in event after Easter, on Sunday April 26th, where we will be sharing our initial work on the Plan, including our draft Vision and Objectives, and other evidence base work. These will all be draft and will need your ideas and comments, to ensure that the Plan reflects our community’s priorities and experiences. Everyone will be welcome at this event! More details to come…
After a period where we were working towards engaging professional help to aid us with compiling our plan, we are pleased to announce that Place Studios have now been engaged as our Consultants. They have worked with several local Neighbourhood Planning Groups, including Seend, so are very aware of the format of the finished document that will be required by Wiltshire County Council, and also are familiar with the local area.
Place Studios have already helped us with the intricacies of applying for a Government Grant to fund fees to allow us to continue the process. We were very pleased when our application was successful, and the grant agreed at the end of November.
We have had two meetings with Place Studios and they have offered guidance as to the direction we now need to be working towards, and to provide them with information that is pertinent and necessary to be included in the completed document.
The funding has also allowed us to engage a company called Aecom, who will be visiting the village to assess all the sites that were identified when we made our “Call for Sites” request last year. These sites are for potential development. Aecom will assess these sites in accordance with the specific criteria required by Wiltshire County Council. Without these completed assessments in the required format the completed Plan will not be accepted by the Council when it is eventually submitted.
We are making good progress, but there are still many steps to complete to a final proposal for the completed village plan.
Whilst things appear to have gone a bit quiet on the neighbourhood plan front the steering group has been plugging away in the background. Realising that we needed more expertise, in order to create the neighbourhood plan, the group have engaged with Place Studio planning consultants. In July they held an initial workshop meeting with us, to see where we have got to and to scope out the remaining work. Since then we have received a full quotation for their part of the work and are currently applying for grant funding to cover the costs of this.
Once this funding is in place we expect to start making more rapid progress!
The neighbourhood planning group has been busy collating the responses from its ‘call for sites’, thank you for your submissions. These will be invaluable for the group’s plan when engaging professional help in the form of a consultant to help move this worthwhile project forward. With this in mind, we have been out to tender to four different specialist planning consultants and we are delighted to say that after much deliberation we have instructed a consultant whom we feel will be best suited for our situation.
At our last meeting we were pleased to meet with another steering group member from a neighbouring village who kindly shared their experience with us. This proved to be incredibly worthwhile and will surely help us with key decisions moving forward.
Before our next meeting we also have representatives from our steering group attending a neighbourhood planning workshop at Wiltshire Council. This should keep us well informed of any updates to the Wiltshire Local Plan Review and help us with key parts of the neighbourhood planning process.
Prior to our first official meeting with the consultants we would welcome any ideas people may have with respect to particular housing needs in the village and this could be extended to other community, greenspace or infrastructure ideas.
Your Neighbourhood Planning Group are still seeking potential sites for development within the parish. The current ‘Call for Sites’ will close at the end of April 2019, to give the group a defined list of potential sites to assess. If you have any land that you wish to be considered then please get in touch by then.
We are currently attempting to engage professional assistance, initially to ensure that the site assessment process is conducted fairly and to the benefit of the parish residents, then to create a draft Neighbourhood Plan.
As advised last month, your Neighbourhood Planning Group walked the seven sites already identified by Wiltshire Council as potential development areas, that were within or adjacent to the settlement area of Bromham. These sites varied in size from 0.08ha to 18.5ha. Each site will be initially assessed against the findings from the village housing needs survey (this was circulated within the Parish Magazine last summer).
The housing needs survey highlighted an initial requirement, above all other categories, for affordable homes. A total of 14 new homes has emerged as being the number currently being required within our Parish over the next three years. This number influences how the assessment of development sites will be managed for not only the current need, but also the potential capability for future need over 15-20 years’ time. As a result we would reiterate our call to any village landowners to make it known if they are considering the potential to develop some of their land, noting this call is Parish wide.
On December 10th a presentation by representatives of the Community Led Housing team from Wiltshire Council was held, prior to the monthly Parish Council meeting. It was a very useful exercise and has given the Steering Group and Parish Council much food for thought. It is likely that a Community Led initiative for the village may be the best way to provide the required numbers of affordable homes, as identified in the Bromham Rural Housing Needs Survey. The Community Led Housing team from the Council have already been in touch, since the New Year break, offering their help and expertise.
In early January members of the Neighbourhood Planning Group walked around the village and examined the sites already identified by Wiltshire Council as future potential development sites. The assessment of such sites is one of the primary steps in the development of the plan, and our conclusions will be incorporated into the draft plan. There is a nationally set list of guidelines for us to use in order to help us reach our conclusions. Wiltshire Council representatives are also able to guide us with these criteria.
As mentioned previously; we are very keen to hear from any village landowners who may be contemplating future building plans. This call for sites is so that we can include any forthcoming development into the neighbourhood plan.