Seaton Valley Neighbourhood Plan: protecting our open spaces
During February and March this year we asked you for your help to define the areas of open space in our villages that are important to you.
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 the types of development that local people would like to see in their community and are used to make decisions on planning applications.
What stage is the Seaton Valley Neighbourhood Plan at and what does it include?
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.
Informed by the feedback from the local community that we received during February and March 2020 we have prepared a draft neighbourhood plan.
The draft neighbourhood plan includes two planning policies. The purpose of the policies is to protect important open spaces within Seaton Valley.
Why is the focus of the Seaton Valley Neighbourhood Plan on protecting important open spaces?
We believe the planning policies included within the Northumberland Local Plan address many of the key issues for our area, such as: protecting the Green Belt, providing employment opportunities, addressing transport issues and the importance of good design.
There are many open spaces in the villages of Seaton Valley that are vital to their character and valuable to local communities, we therefore believe the focus of our plan should be the protection of these spaces.
Are there different types of open space?
The plan identifies two different types of open space: local green space and protected open space.
Local green space designation can be applied to spaces of local importance for reasons including heritage, wildlife and tranquillity. Once an area is identified as a local green space it receives protection equivalent to land that lies within the Green Belt, so development can only take place on the open space where very special circumstances have been demonstrated.
Protected open space can include all open space of public value. This can take many forms, from formal sports pitches to open areas within an existing development, linear corridors and country parks. Open spaces can: provide health and recreation benefits to people living and working nearby; have an ecological value; and contribute to the green infrastructure of an area. Once designated, protected open spaces should be safeguarded and only lost where several detailed criteria are met, such as:
- the open space is clearly surplus to requirements;
- the open space will be replaced by equivalent or better provision in the near vicinity; or
- the proposed development is for alternative open space provision, the needs for which clearly outweigh the loss.
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.
Consultation on the Draft Neighbourhood Plan
There was a great response to the consultation on the Draft Neighbourhood Plan that closed on the 4 November 2020.
We received many positive remarks on the plans to protect our allocated local green space and protected open space within our villages as well as suggestions for other areas to include in the plan.
What happens next?
Following the consultation we are amending the plan and will 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.