Details of the plan
Key stages for the creation of Stewkley’s Neighbourhood Plan
Step 1: Initial communication phase
Communication to the Stewkley Community of the Parish Council’s decision to create a Neighbourhood Plan (highlighted on the village notice boards, The Grapevine, village website)
Step 2: Identify the plan area
Designating the Parish Neighbourhood (Plan) Area and agreeing the location and size with AVDC.
Step 3: Forming a Steering Group
Creating a Stewkley Community Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group, led by the Parish Council, with appropriate clubs, societies and age representatives.
Step 4: Preparing the draft Neighbourhood Plan
This will include research into the need (from the local demographics and housing requirements) Consultations (with the clubs, societies, the community in general, local businesses, school, church and statutory bodies eg. Planning, highways, environment, ecology, heritage and utilities) to form the evidence for the Plan, public meetings and presentations (to receive the village community’s views on this evidence and conclusions) and the writing up the Plan to form a document. It will cover areas such as housing need, areas for protection (eg. Listed buildings, open spaces), traffic calming and car parking, business needs, and ecology).
Step 5: Pre-submission publicity & consultation
AVDC will publish our Draft Plan and review with the appropriate (internal) statutory authorities
Step 6: Plan submission
Submission of a Neighbourhood Plan proposal to AVDC local planning authority – AVDC’s formal review of the ‘final’ draft Neighbourhood Plan
Step 7: Independent Examination
An independent person(s) reviews the Plan and publishes his/ her conclusion Assuming there are no issues, AVDC send the Plan for a Stewkley Community Referendum. Stewkley residents will receive a copy of the final Neighbourhood Plan to review for themselves.
Step 8: Referendum
Stewkley residents vote for or against on a given day. If over 50% voters, vote for the Plan then this is deemed approved by the Community.
Step 9: Making the plan
Making the Neighbourhood Plan (bringing it into force) – AVDC local planning authority ensures the Plan complies with EU obligations and Convention Rights and then deems the Plan ‘Made’ (adopted)
The Parish Council established a steering group to oversee the preparation of the plan. The steering group is responsible for collecting the evidence required to inform the plan, developing the content and consulting with the community. Membership includes:
Neil Dickens – Chair
2016 Steering Committee
Neil Dickens – Chair
Beth Stedman – Secretary
Nine Working Groups were established to carry out investigations, gather evidence, consult with local people and identify policies to be included in the plan. The working groups are:
Amenities – Led by Cllr Jenny Wodey
Conservation and Heritage – Led by John Sheldon
Elderly and Disabled – led by Steve Nicholl
Planning and Landscape – led by Cllr Andrew Pryke
Schooling – led by Pam Dickens
Sports and Recreation – led by George Gater
Stewkley Business -led by Philip Delafield
Transport and Infrastructure – led by Cllr Keith Higgins
Youth – led by David Lett
STEERING GROUP MEETING MINUTES
WORKING GROUP REPORTS
WORKING GROUP POLICY STATEMENTS
SEA AND OTHER COMMISSIONED REPORTS
NP SUBMITTED FOR EXAMINATION
EXAMINATION RESULT AND REFERENDUM
Introduction text and missing documents to be added shortly
Background & Reference Materials
Frequently Asked Questions
Questions about Neighbourhood Plans in General:
Why do we need a Neighbourhood Plan?
Without a Neighbourhood Plan the Parish could be open to speculative planning applications in areas that residents would not support. Neighbourhood Plans have helped our neighbouring villages and towns defend themselves against unwanted developments or inappropriate housing mix (size/style of housing) in the past 12 months.
A ‘Made’ Neighbourhood Plan does give Stewkley Parish residents some protection and control over future development within the parish. It must be stated though that a Neighbourhood Plan can never be a guarantee against development, and a site written into a NP is not approved for development, and must go through the usual planning approval process.
What is a ‘Made Neighbourhood Plan’?
The term ‘Made’ refers to a Plan that has been adopted by AVDC and is therefore official. In order to be ‘Made’, the drafted Plan is examined by independent experts for AVDC for its compliance to local Plans and national planning policies and if acceptable, is put to a referendum within the parish. A simple majority vote in favour of the Plan is required for AVDC to adopt it.
Audit trails, consultation and communication, and clarity of the conclusion are key to getting a ‘Made’ Plan though the final vote.
Who is the plan for and who is creating it?
It is for you. The Plan will be written for everyone living and working in the Parish. It is created by villagers for villagers following consultation with villagers. The more the village engage with the process, the more likely we will collectively develop a Plan that works for Stewkley as a whole.
The Plan is being researched and developed by volunteers from the village who have been formed into Working Groups. It will be drafted by a consultant with expertise in writing compliant Neighbourhood Plans using the detailed findings from the Working Groups, and the information obtained from the various public consultations.
What is the timescale?
An initial consultation was held with the residents of the village in December 2015 when an overwhelming decision, by show of hands, was taken to write a Neighbourhood Plan for Stewkley.
The Plan was officially started in January 2016 and should be completed by the end of 2017.
A progress map is provided on the Stewkley Parish Council website. Once public consultation on the potential development sites is complete, the Plan will be drafted to incorporate the wishes of the villagers based upon the feedback and communication received.
Has Stewkley Parish Council defined a Code of Conduct for the Neighbourhood Plan team and its Steering Committee?
Yes. Terms of Reference have been issued by the Parish Council to the NP Steering Committee. They are available for review on the Stewkley Parish Council website.
Steering Committee members declare their personal interest in the Neighbourhood Plan. These are being updated for the 2017 Steering Committee and will be posted on the website within a few weeks.
Why have some landowners been displaying information about their potential developments at NP exhibitions?
The NP team cannot stop any resident or landowner from providing information about a particular site or sites, in addition to the information that is presented by the NP team as part of the consultation process.
What is required however is that any resident or landowner who wishes to exercise their democratic right to voice an opinion does so in a location clearly separated from the NP team exhibition areas and makes no attempt to imply that they are part of, or are assisted by, the NP team.
How has the consultation process been defined and advertised?
Following the initial public consultation in December 2015 where the attendees voted to support the creation of a Neighbourhood Plan, consultations have been held at key points where new information has been available to share with the public. As examples: The results of the village survey were shared in a public consultation; Possible site locations following assessment by the NP team; Detailed information on sites incorporating feedback received from AVDC Neighbourhood Plan support staff and independent experts in planning; Drafted NP policy statements.
Exhibitions are usually held either in the village hall or school for a whole day over the weekend. They are set up and manned by members of the NP team and Stewkley Parish Council. The exhibitions / meetings are advertised ahead of time in the Grapevine. Parish noticeboards are used to display posters, on several occasions leaflets have been distributed to every home in the parish, recently the Neighbourhood Plan FaceBook page has been used to promote meetings.
Why are we sometimes asked for opinions or to vote on different but related topics separately (for example the drafted secondary boundary and site locations). Wouldn’t it be more logical to combine them?
We understand that sometimes the process appears ‘out of kilter’ but that is because there are several pillars to this Plan and they are moving forward at different rates. Getting this Plan ‘Made’ as quickly as possible is critical for the future of Stewkley, so it is important that we get the views from the villagers to help us progress in as timely a manner as possible.
All aspects of the Plan will be brought together as a drafted Plan in mid 2017, and everyone will have an opportunity to review and comment on the whole document.
Questions about Houses and Developments in General:
How were the potential areas for new homes decided upon?
Potential sites for development were identified using both an active and reactive ‘Call for Sites’.
- Land owners in Stewkley Parish were invited to submit sites for development.
- Members of the NP team contacted other landowners who had not come forward during the active Call for Sites to confirm if they wished to develop their land.
The NP team started with a master list of 53 sites comprising land that had been identified from both steps 1 and 2.
As a result of the Step 2 consultation, sites were excluded because the owner did not want to develop it. The remaining sites were entered into the process for assessment. Only sites that were entered into the process have been identified by location and landowner.
How will the housing mix be decided?
Respondents to the village questionnaire identified starter homes and retirement homes as those most needed in the future. As there was over 80% response from the parish, this is a good indication of what villagers think is required.
Achieving the desired housing mix on smaller developments is challenging and a policy statement will be included in the Neighbourhood Plan to ensure that homes are built that meet local needs. The site summary for each proposed location will include the type of housing that would be supported by the residents.
Won’t infill between individual sites result in an overcrowded look to the village roads?
The NP will identify location of development sites that have been agreed by the residents. It is expected the Plan will identify, either through a Policy statement or the individual site summaries, the limit on the number of homes per site and a reluctance to approve ‘bunched’ sites.
What if I object to a particular site for personal reasons or I am against all development in Stewkley?
The starting point for the Neighbourhood Plan is an acknowledgement that new homes will be built in Stewkley over the next 20+ years.
Neighbourhood planning gives communities direct power to develop a shared vision for their neighbourhood and deliver the sustainable development they need. It is way of helping local communities to influence the planning of the area in which they live and work.
Not all development will be wanted by everyone, and there will be opportunities for individuals to object when the plans are submitted for planning approval in the usual way.
Land owners want to get the maximum value from their land, where does the subsidy for affordable homes come from?
Affordable Homes are a requirement for developments over a particular size (currently more than 14). The Soulbury Road development will be required to deliver a number of affordable homes as part of the agreed housing mix. Therefore the subsidy comes from the landowner.
The NP will examine ways to provide low cost homes to rent or buy. This is different to affordable homes.
Will a new build residential development nearby reduce property values in Stewkley?
New houses or developments have no noticeable effect on house prices, either negative or positive. A recent study has shown that new housebuilding has little discernible and consistent impact on local house price patterns. The report by LSE London, entitled ‘Understanding the Local Impact of New Residential Development,’ was jointly commissioned by Barratt Developments, the largest housebuilder in the UK, and the NHBC Foundation, and addressed the question of whether a new development will always reduce prices or reduce the rate of increase in prices in the immediately surrounding area. Examining the impacts of eight recent residential Barratt developments on their local areas, the research concluded that prices did not decline as a result of development, although sometimes there may be some limited impact during construction. Once the developments were completed, the local areas generally moved with the market.
Questions about Housing Numbers and Specific Developments:
Why is there not more detail about the number and size of properties being considered for each site?
These details will evolve with the Plan. The NP team continue to analyse feedback from the village about housing needs, location constraints etc., and this will inform recommendations for number and type of housing on each site. It would be difficult to provide this while the analysis is still on-going. Site summaries have been provided which give more information about the site location and access. In due course, information about number of houses and type of housing will be published.
Why are some sites coloured (red, green and orange) and others are not?
The colours that appear on the site information sheets currently available for view on the Stewkley Parish Council website have no relevance. If there were meaning, a key would have been provided. Nothing should be interpreted by a colour used to outline the position of a particular site on any particular map.
Why and how did the NP team ‘score’ the sites?
Scoring the sites was a first step in deciding which locations would be likely to fit with the emerging policies in the NP.
The criteria by which sites were scored were deduced from the village questionnaire and took into consideration ease of access (traffic and parking), impact on countryside views, protection of linear and rural nature of the village, protection of green spaces and environment, the village requirements for housing type and avoidance of large developments. Some sites may look large but the land owner only wants to develop part of the site, or place a few homes on it, so at this stage the size of the site is not an indicator about the potential number of homes.
Sites were then assigned a score for the various criteria depending upon whether they would meet a village need, and whether the impact of development could be mitigated. These initial scores were used initially to help focus priorities of discussion however they have been supplemented now by additional comments received from external consultants and the village vote.
Isn’t access from the main roads an issue, in particular during construction, and will severely impact residents near new developments?
Safety and access were criteria considered during the site evaluation process, including by AVDC. Any potential site must meet normal planning requirements for safe access. Sites that do not meet these requirements are unlikely to progress through the NP process.
Inconvenience to residents during construction is not something that the NP can impact.
During the planning application process, residents should submit concerns in writing to AVDC so they may be taken into consideration during the planning discussion and deliberation.
Will the sewage/drainage systems be able to cope with all the new houses?
There are ongoing concerns about sewage and drainage in the village. As part of the outline planning approval for Soulbury Road, further detail about the handling of sewage and drainage has been requested from the developers as a condition of the approval. This is a step in the right direction, however it is not a final solution.
Stewkley Parish Council would be pleased to hear about issues regarding foul drainage and surface water drainage (with photos if possible) to help us build a picture of the problems that exist in the village and to identify how these could be resolved.
I am concerned about the impact on traffic and infrastructure. Will developers contribute towards road infrastructure improvements?
Traffic and parking issues in Stewkley are of great concern to the parish and a number of initiatives are being considered by the NP team to reduce the impact of new residential homes and the increase in cars and traffic. These include restricting the number of homes per site, introducing a 20 mph zone in problem areas and extending the AVDC parking standards for new developments so that all car parking requirements can be accommodated off road.
Developers will not voluntarily contribute towards improvements for road infrastructure, however they may be required by Bucks CC to make provision for traffic calming, access, pavements, walkways, bridges etc to mitigate the impact of their development. It should be noted that BCC made no such requests for either of the approved planning applications at Soulbury Road and 66 High Street North.
A review of speed limits at the boundaries is being undertaken with plans to introduce a 40mph buffer zone to slow vehicles down before they reach the 30 mph speed limit.
What is the time scale for Soulbury Road development?
Outline planning has been approved by AVDC n February 2017. The time scale is now in the hands of the landowners and developers.
Would the school be able to cope with the additional children?
Bucks County Council confirmed that they believed there would be sufficient primary school capacity to meet future needs. However, concerns have been expressed by residents about children being transported out to other areas to attend school. Phasing of future developments over the 20 year period of the local plan would help to even out demand for school places, and again demonstrates the importance of a Made Neighbourhood Plan to give the parish some control over its amenities.
Question about the Village and the Conservation Area:
If we try to protect our linear village, we could overcrowd the centre. Isn’t it the case that smaller developments could have a greater negative impact than larger developments outside the boundary, as more views could be affected?
The linear nature of the village is a well-established Stewkley feature, supported and protected by the Local Planning Authority. The NP team are aware of the danger of overcrowding and protection of views. The assessment of potential sites takes into consideration aspects such as sloping ground and low rise development to help preserve views into the countryside for existing homes.
Why would we support ribbon development beyond the 30 mph signs?
Responses from the village questionnaire did not overwhelmingly support extending the current building line. Infill has its problems (see FAQ above) so an option is to modestly extend up to and beyond the current 30 mph signs and create village gateways. Until the final site selections are made, all these remain options which may, or may not, be supported by the residents of Stewkley.
Why has a ‘secondary boundary’ been suggested?
The current building line for Stewkley has developed over the decades as an uneven, fairly ragged boundary. An option for the village is to create a secondary boundary by smoothing out the existing one up in areas where the extension into countryside would not be intrusive.
The Call for Sites brought forward landowners and their sites from all areas of the village. A drafted secondary boundary has been proposed by the NP team and is available for review on the Stewkley Parish Council website. This is an attempt to create a succinct Plan in response to the ‘need’ and comments from the Community, stakeholders, etc. It is for comment at this stage and will be developed to form part of the draft Plan once a conclusion has been made.
How can we propose substantial building in the conservation area?
Stewkley Conservation area will remain a restraint on any new build, whether within or outside of the Neighbourhood Plan. A Neighbourhood Plan must comply with local and national planning guidelines.
Policies for the protection of conservation areas, as in the past, will continue in the future. These policies however do not mean no development but that development might be considered if all the policies in the Local Plan are met.
How can we protect the rural nature of the area and farm land, minimise environmental impact, protect our green spaces, and maintain the character of the village.
These themes featured very strongly in the village questionnaire when residents told us just how important the countryside and environment is to them. The policies being drafted for the NP are designed to protect these important factors.
The villagers will decide if these important elements have been considered when the vote is taken on the Plan at referendum.
Won’t new houses increase potential for crime?
Respondents to the village questionnaire told us that the felt save living in Stewkley. There are no indications that an increase in the number of homes would result in additional crime.
Will we lose our employment area?
Any future development of the business park is unlikely to be scheduled for 15 years. Within this timeframe, alternative locations may become available to relocate businesses within the Parish.
Questions about NP, AVDC and VALP:
What is the time frame for development – everything in the 2016 flier seems to be within the first 5 years?
The table in the flier identified the timeframe put forward at this stage by the landowner. The actual timing of any development is likely to be very different, and to an extent may be controlled by the NP to be phased over the next 20 years.
Can we appeal against the target of 123 new homes imposed by AVDC?
The target was questioned by Stewkley Parish Council as it was derived by a formula applied to all villages deemed to be on ‘medium’ size, regardless of the location, amenities and infrastructure. That target is now out of date. AVDC themselves were criticised for using this arbitrary approach to decide how many homes each village and town should deliver to enable AVDC meet its target, and have adopted an evidence-based approach instead. The actual target number for Stewkley has not yet been revealed (as of May 2017), however the housing land assessment suggests a target closer to 100 might be expected.
Why are sites rejected by AVDC in the HELAA being submitted?
At this stage all sites put forward by Stewkley landowners remain open for comment and consideration by the parish. Sites may have been rejected by AVDC for reasons that would not stop development. For example, AVDC HELAA rejected sites for development of less than 5 houses. Several Stewkley sites would potentially have 2 or 3 houses only.
Would the village miss out on S106 development money if we just had small developments on small sites?
Aylesbury Vale District Council decide where S106 monies are spent. It does not always follow the development. We could get S106 money that has been accrued by AVDC from a development in a neighbouring village. Stewkley Parish Council has supplied AVDC with its list of funding requirements.
What is the HELAA and where can I find it?
HELAA is the Housing and Economic Land Area Assessment document issued by AVDC and is a strategic picture of the availability and suitability of land for development. It is a key component of the evidence base to inform the preparation of the Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan (VALP). Further, it attempts to establish realistic assumptions about the number of homes and amount of economic development that this land could yield and the timeframe within which this might come forward. It may be found here (Stewkley sites are discussed in Part 5).
HELAA version 4 – January 2017 Part 1 (Intro-Aylesbury)
HELAA version 4 – January 2017 Part 2 (Beachampton-Cuddington)
HELAA version 4 – January 2017 Part 3 (Dagnall-Grendon Underwood)
HELAA version 4 – January 2017 Part 4 (Haddenham-Oving)
HELAA version 4 – January 2017 Part 5 (Padbury-Swanbourne)
HELAA version 4 – January 2017 Part 6 (Thornborough-conclusions)