Thursday, 19 October 2017

First step taken towards joint neighbourhood plan

A DRAFT brief for the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan will go out to consultants this week.

A DRAFT brief for the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan will go out to consultants this week.

It is the first stage of the process where companies are invited to tender before being invited to an interview on May 24.

The neighbourhood planning governance committee, which has a £40,000 budget, met for the second time last week.

Chairman Dieter Hinke said: “We are on time with everything we set out to do and this committee will list all the actions that we are supposed to do.

“It is all coming together quite nicely and we are getting support from South Oxfordshire District Council where we need it.”

The committee is in the process of setting up a website with the help of a graphic designer and a web developer who have volunteered their services.

A logo is being designed by town and district councillor Joan Bland, which will incorporate two letter Hs entwined with images of Henley Bridge and Harpsden church.

Cllr Hinke said: “The website will be separate to the town council website as this is not a town council initiative, this is localism. We want our site to be interesting. We want the front page to be colourful and informative.”

He said he wanted as many people as possible to be involved in the process, especially young people, and for much of the work to be done by volunteers.

The committee can apply for additional funding up to £15,000 from South Oxfordshire District Council.

Cllr Hinke said: “There is no intention to report back every penny that we spend. We have responsibilities to spend the budget that we have been allocated. Should we need more money we will come back to full council. For the logo we are getting a volunteer and we have had a lot of people come forward to say they want to help. Where we can’t have volunteers we will go out to tender then bring people in and pay them.

“This committee has been set up to govern the process of neighbourhood planning. It has no authority as to the results of the neighbourhood plan but makes sure that the process runs smoothly. I think the town wants and needs us to get moving on this.”

Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak added: “We have waited a long time for this and I know the money will be spent very wisely.”

The town council’s original application for a neighbourhood plan based on the Henley area only has been withdrawn so that an application based on both parishes can be submitted.

Cllr Hinke said: “We have to talk to people in the town and find out if they want leisure to be part of their plan. We cannot assume that it will be. At the last public opinion day we gave out wider headings but all people really wanted to talk about was housing and traffic.

“When we do more of these days then we need to encourage people and say we appreciate their concerns about housing but we want them to think about other specifics that go with that.

“I know the housing and traffic is going to dominate but there are other things which are part of neighbourhood planning and it is important to make sure that people are aware of that.”

Henley has been allocated 400 homes to be built by 2027 under South Oxfordshire District Council’s core strategy. The district council earmarked six possible sites for development, three of which are in Harpsden parish.

The committee will use consultation groups to examine the pros and cons of these sites and others before drawing up a final plan to be put to a referendum in 2015.

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