What is a Neighbourhood Plan?
A Neighbourhood Plan is a plan which is not drawn up by Swale planners but takes into account the views of the community. This type of plan arose as a result of the Localism Act 2012. Where there is a parish or town council they are responsible for preparing the plan. In this case, Faversham Town Council is leading the steering group, which also includes representatives of Swale Borough Council and the Creek Consortium. A Neighbourhood Plan has to be financially viable and deliverable. It also has to be accepted by more than half of the people voting in a referendum to become part of the Swale Local Plan. It will have a 20 year horizon with periodic reviews.
Why have a Neighbourhood Plan?
The plan will set out the mix of uses and amount of development that is considered to be suitable on sites around the creek. It will include potential improvements to the townscape and footpaths that would enhance the character of the creek area. It will contain an appendix which identifies additional important elements of the area's heritage.
The plan is intended to ensure that schemes for development are well-designed and contain a desirable mix of elements themselves and with streetscape work and moorings would make the area more attractive.
Some areas will change very little. Without such a plan, as a result of the National Planning Policy Framework, it is likely that development would be permitted with no such regulation as the framework only requires that development is 'sustainable'.
In the past, rather bland housing schemes along the creek have been allowed on appeal and such decisions would be more likely.
The steering group has been working on the Neighbourhood Plan since autumn 2011. Consultation was held last May on the mix of uses that should be sought on various sites around the creek. Further consultation via a set of workshops held last November sought to build consensus of the type and extent of development on the sites. The Faversham Creek Streetscape Strategy, which sets out townscape and footpath improvements, was endorsed by Faversham Town Council, Swale Borough Council and the Swale Joint Transportation Board last summer. The next opportunity for consultation is at the illustrations exhibition to be held at the Alexander Centre on Friday, June 7 between 7pm and 9pm and on Saturday, June 8 between 10am and 4pm. This will include drawings showing possible developments on sites and an overall masterplan drawing, another chance to see the proposals for improvements set out in the Streetscape Strategy and surveys on, for example, public open spaces, the bridge, housing and the economy.
How you can get involved?
The plan has not been drafted yet. It is important that you take part in the surveys and comment on the illustrations either at the exhibition or during a three week consultation period afterwards. In the autumn, Faversham Town Council will be consulting for a six-week period on a pre-submission draft of the Neighbourhood Plan. Following assessment of the feedback, Swale Borough Council will consult for a further six weeks on the submission draft. After the plan has been examined for soundness, a town referendum is expected next June.