The Stratford-Upon-Avon Neighbourhood Plan
On the 17 th October the Stratford Society received a presentation from the Town Council on the current progress of the Neighbourhood Plan (the Plan). Over 40 members of the Society were present to hear the Talk about this importantPlan which will have a major influence on the town for the next 20 years.
Our Town Clerk, Sarah Summers, explained that the Town Council is promoting the Plan. The Plan has to be adopted by the community next year, 2017, and this meeting is part of the consultation process. Originally, the Plan had been launched by the Town Council some four years ago in June 2011. On the 4th October this year, the Town Council adopted the Plan as the basis for public consultation leading through to a referendum in 2017.Following the referendum the Council will be responsible for implementing the Plan. Sarah pointed out that the Town Council cannot express a view on the contents of Plan as it has to remain impartial, but individual councillors will be able express their views and to lobby for support. A campaign committee will be in place.
Sarah then introduced Mark Haselden who is chairing the Steering Group set up 4 years ago to prepare the Plan. (The Society’s chairman, John Scampion is a member of this Group) Mark explained that the Plan is for the Town and addresses local matters and it has to comply with the Core Strategy on strategic matters. His Group has tried to express the views of the community rather than their own views. Once adopted following the Referendum, the Plan becomes a material issue in planning policy and it will enable the Town Council to receive 25% more money from the Community Infrastructure Levy, for local schemes.
The current position is that the Plan was approved by the Town Council on the 4 th October last and will be submitted to the District Council (SDC) with supporting evidence which consists of some 10,000 pages. SDC will arrange a formal examination of the Plan and it will then be considered by a referendum next year.
What is in the Plan? It runs to some 162 pages and contains policies which will be binding and relate strictly to land use and projects for the town. The overall aims of the Plan will be to retain and enhance the historic core: to redevelop the run down areas: to make the town liveable and attractive: to have a strong local economy with housing choice: to create a centre for surrounding areas and accommodate visitors better: to integrate the approach to traffic and transport; and to make the town greener with more soft landscaping and open spaces.
Mark then highlighted some of the key sections which he thought would be of particular interest to the Society –
Housing The Core Strategy allocates 3,500 new homes in Stratford and we shall seek to ensure that any development outside the built-up area boundary is limited to agriculture. Housing on brownfield sites should be used first including the Canal Quarter Zone. The housing mix should be matched to Stratford, not the District, with provision for the needs of the elderly and the young.
Built environment and design There are policies to promote high quality sustainable design to preserve and enhance the historic environment with the use of Design Review Panels. Designs must respond to the local character and promote urban renewal and regeneration and they must create a strong sense of place.
The Town Centre The Planneeds to address the vitality of shopping and commerce, housing in the Town Centre, visitors to the Town, our visual heritage and the ability to access and move around the Town Centre. There are proposals to place new shopping in the Town Centre, to make shopping the primary use in certain streets, to create Bell Court Phase 2 and to carry out environmental improvements in areas identified. Mark specifically referred to the success of the Shop Fronts scheme which had been promoted by the Society.
Projects are included to improve access and movement around the Town Centre with pavement widening in Bridge Street, an experimental High Street closure for limited hours and a redesign of the roundabout at the top of Bridge Street. Projects will also address the issue of coaches, car parking and cycling in the Town Centre.
Infrastructure Projects focus on congestion, public transport and education. These topics continue to be debated with WCC and policies include -
Initiatives to reduce peak time congestion
Alternative solutions for Birmingham Road
Park and Ride
Pedestrians and cyclists
Rail link and bus and coach interchange facilities
Natural environment Policies include additional protection to wildlife sites at Bridgetown Woodland and Meadow and protection of the river corridor.
Leisure and wellbeing Policies and projects include protecting and enhancing open spaces, linking up green spaces, allotments and health care issues.
At the end of his presentation Mark made himself available for questions. He confirmed that a shorter summary of the Plan will be available for the referendum. One member suggested that the roll of the Society should be to champion the contents of the Plan. Several members congratulated Mark and his team on the work which had been carried out on the Plan and its content.
The Chairman of the Society, John Scampion, then thanked the Town Council and Mark for an excellent presentation and members showed their appreciation in the usual way.