Friday, 20 July 2018

Volunteers sought as village opts for neighbourhood plan

VOLUNTEERS are being sought to help write Goring’s neighbourhood plan.

VOLUNTEERS are being sought to help write Goring’s neighbourhood plan.

The parish council has agreed to produce the document following an extraordinary meeting to debate the issue.

About 100 residents attended the meeting, which included a talk by South Oxfordshire District Council planning officer Hannah Guest.

She explained the advantages of a neighbourhood plan and answered questions from councillors and  villagers.

Woodcote parish councillor Geoff Botting, who chaired his village’s neighbourhood plan committee, then shared his experiences.

Afterwards, a vote was taken and everyone present favoured creating a plan so the council backed it unanimously. The document will name the sites i the village where at least 86 homes should be built by 2027.

If it passes a referendum it will become a legally enforceable aspect of district council planning policy.

It will also make recommendations on transport, retail, employment, infrastructure and other aspects of  village life.

The parish council will supervise the process of creating the plan but it will be drafted by a volunteer steering group. Councillor Brandon Hancox, who campaigned for a plan before being elected this month, will chair the group.

He said: “We want as many people as possible to come forward so that every single resident gets the opportunity to have their say.

“This needs to be something the whole community embraces so that it passes scrutiny at every stage, including the referendum. It cannot just reflect the views of one part of the  village.

“The most important thing is that it is done fairly and democratically and if that means all the homes end up being built on my doorstep, so be it.

“We’re looking for help with all kinds of things, even if it’s just giving a few hours to deliver leaflets or to be an ambassador who explains the plan’s benefits to others. Although we’re keen to push things forward, we cannot afford to rush this. We have to make sure the word gets out and everyone has had a chance to take part.”

Once a steering group is formed, landowners willing to offer sites for development will be invited to come forward.

There will then be a public consultation to determine which of these are the most popular.

Although Woodcote’s neighbourhood plan took two years to prepare, Goring’s could be ready more quickly as it will use the former’s document as a template.

Neighbourhood plans were introduced in 2011 as part of the Localism Act, which Henley MP John Howell helped to develop.

Anyone interested in volunteering should visit www.goring or call the parish council on (01491) 874444.

l Kevin Bulmer has been elected chairman of Goring Parish Council. The 58–year–old, who is also the village’s county councillor, succeeds Alan Strong. He was previously vice–chairman and is the council’s longest–serving ing member. The new vice–chairman is Councillor John Wills, 67, who was co–opted in 2010.

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