What is neighbourhood planning?
Since 2011 the Government has allowed communities to produce neighbourhood plans for their local area. The process of preparing a plan enables people living and working in an area to guide where and how future development happens. Plans are prepared by the local community, through their town or parish council, rather than being prepared by Northumberland County Council.
Neighbourhood plans can help deliver types of development the local people would like to see in their community and are used to make decisions on planning applications. This would give our plan genuine influence on the future of Seaton Valley.
What is the background to the Seaton Valley Neighbourhood Plan?
A Designated Neighbourhood Area was agreed and work started on the Seaton Valley Neighbourhood Plan in October 2015. Map of the Seaton Valley Neighbourhood Area.
In July 2016 we agreed the following key themes for our plan:
- Housing – to undertake a review of allocated sites and numbers, consideration of other sites/ Green Belt issues, design, housing need (including for affordable housing);
- Economy – to consider the issues of employment sites, transport and infrastructure as well as transport linkages;
- Environment – to review green spaces, nature reserves and consider other areas for protection; and
- Social – consider the availability of services and facilities including school provision.
What has changed since work started on the neighbourhood plan?
When work first started on the plan a key area of concern for the local community was the housing development proposed in New Hartley. Following the granting of planning permission at appeal in September 2017 work on the plan lost momentum.
In July 2017 Northumberland County Council took the decision to end work on the Northumberland Core Strategy and to prepare a more detailed local plan for the county. The Northumberland Local Plan is now at an advanced stage of preparation. It includes detailed policies which will be relevant to the assessment of development proposals in Seaton Valley, such as:
- Green Belt;
- Employment land allocations;
- Housing land allocations;
- The route of the Northumberland Line/ safeguarded stations;
- Natural and built environment designations;
- Design; and
- Provision of affordable housing.
What should the Seaton Valley Neighbourhood Plan seek to address?
One of the main benefits of a neighbourhood plan is to provide important local detail to planning policies for an area. This will help ensure planning decisions reflect both the needs of the local community and the nature of the area.
We believe that the planning policies included within the Northumberland Local Plan address many of the issues identified as key themes for our neighbourhood plan, for example:
- The Green Belt boundary is drawn tightly around the villages of Holywell, New Hartley, Seaton Delaval, Seaton Sluice and National planning policy is clear that inappropriate development is not supported within the Green Belt, unless there are very special circumstances;
- The Northumberland Local Plan includes two small infill housing allocations within the Seaton Valley area and four employment sites;
- Transport issues are addressed in a number policies and proposals within the new Northumberland Local Plan; and
- The Northumberland Local Plan also includes detailed policies on design, the environment and the protection of community
However, no areas of open space, other than Green Belt are included within the emerging Northumberland Local Plan.
We therefore believe that the focus of the Seaton Valley Neighbourhood Plan should be on the protection of important open spaces within our villages.
How can the neighbourhood plan protected important open spaces?
The neighbourhood plan can identify and protect those open spaces that are important to the local community. An open space could be valuable because it is part of the character of the area, or it could be used for recreation. It could also be somewhere people like going because it is tranquil or to watch wildlife or it could have a historical connection.
Open spaces could include: play areas, playing fields, allotments and the areas in which war memorials area located – the spaces don’t have to be green.
In order to identify areas in our plan, we need to know which spaces are important to you and crucially why you feel they should be protected.
What is the relationship with the village plans?
The neighbourhood plan is separate from the village plans and is not looking to replace them. We are still working to deliver the actions identified within the village plans and we will look to review them in the future to make sure they are up to date and reflect the views of the local community.
How do I input to the neighbourhood plan?
Between now and 31 March 2020 we would like to hear your views to inform the preparation of our neighbourhood plan. Particularly, we want to know which open spaces you feel we should protect through the plan and why.
We are holding a drop-in event at our council offices in Seaton Delaval on Wednesday 11 March 2020 between 4.00 – 7.00 pm where you can come along to find out more about the plan and give us your ideas.
If you are not able to come along to the event, you can send us your thoughts in writing by letter or email to: Seaton Valley Council, 20-22 Astley Road, Seaton Delaval, Northumberland, NE25 0DG / Email: email@example.com.
Alternatively you can provide comments through social media: Facebook @seatonvalleycommunitycouncil
If you have any queries please contact us on 0191 2379870 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Please let us know your views by 31 March 2020.
What happens next?
Once we have considered all of your comments we will prepare a draft neighbourhood plan. Depending on the number of comments, we hope to have this ready early in the summer. We will let you know when this is available and will ask you again for your comments on what we propose to include within it.
After the consultation on the draft plan, we will then amend the plan and submit it to Northumberland County Council who will appoint an independent examiner to assess the plan. There will be more consultation, undertaken by the county council and the examiner will decide if the plan is appropriate and meets the various legal requirements. Once the plan passes examination, people who live in Seaton Valley will be asked in a referendum whether they support the plan or not.
We look forward to hearing your views.