As part of its housing strategy, Herefordshire Council agreed policies which could see new housing developments in Michaelchurch Escley and Vowchurch and in Lower Maes-coed. The Parish Council decided in 2013 to produce a neighbourhood plan based on local people's views about how such developments should take place in the coming years.
Work to produce the neighbourhood plan was led by a Steering Group of local people reporting to the Parish Council. We held public meetings during 2014 and 2015 at which people identified different options for the kind of developments that might take place. We also issued a questionnaire which asked for people's views about the kind of developments that might take place.
We produced a draft neighbourhood plan in 2016 setting out policies to be used in assessing future planning applications. These polices were based on the views expressed by local people during the various consultations referred to above. With the support of Herefordshire Council this draft plan was issued for wider public consultation in April and May 2016.
The plan was accompanied by maps showing the settlement boundaries for the two villages Michaelchurch Escley and Vowchurch. An Environmental Report and a Habitats Regulations Assessment carried out by Herefordshire Council related to the plan were also made available.
Everyone living in the five parishes or with an interest in the area had an opportunity to comment on the plan. At the same time a range of organisations locally and nationally had a chance to comment.
Once the consultation ended the plan was revised in the light of the comments we received and discussed several times by the full Parish Council. A full explanation of the basis on which the Parish Council has determined the settlement boundaries is set out in the draft plan.
The amended draft plan was approved by Herefordshire Council to move on to the next stage a more formal consultation early in 2017. The draft plan and all the supporting documents can be viewed on the Herefordshire Council website
This consultation ended on 15 February 2017. Herefordshire Council decided that the draft plan should be examined by an independent examiner and this has now been done. The main purpose of such an examination is to ensure that the plan meets the basic conditions that have been set nationally for neighbourhood plans, including whether they are consistent with national and local planning policies. The examiner also considered the comments that have been made on the draft plan and make a decision about whether any changes should be made to the plan.
The examiner’s report is available on this website. The examiner has concluded that the plan does meet the basic conditions and has recommended that it should proceed to a local referendum. The examiner has suggested some amendments to the draft plan and these have now been incorporated. A copy of the revised plan is also available to read on the website.
The referendum was held on 7 September. The result was as follows – 176 voted for the neighbourhood plan to be used in the assessment of future planning applications and 30 people voted against. The turnout was over 30%.
The Parish Council is grateful to all those who have contributed to the development of the plan and who voted in the referendum.
A copy of the final plan is available on the website. Printed copies will be available in due course.
For further information please contact Paul Mason by email at: email@example.com.