Ropley Neighbourhood Planning


THE FUTURE – IN YOUR HANDS

January 2018 Update

This will probably be the last update on the Neighbourhood Plan before the Public Consultation phase, so most of this article will be dedicated to how to participate in that consultation. Before that here is an update of what has happened in the last couple of months.

We have completed the policies that will govern the Settlement Policy Boundaries, and reviewed the existing boundaries. Changes that we have proposed to these are being studied by EHDC for compliance with their methodology. We have also finalised the list of proposed Ropley Local Green Spaces and associated policies within the plan.

The Strategic Environmental Assessment on our draft plan and its policies has been delivered to us. They have recommended a few enhancements to the wording of our policies to ensure that they deliver the intentions of the plan, and these have been incorporated into the draft plan.

These final changes will be put to the Parish Council at their December and January meetings and provided that the draft plan is approved, the Public Consultation will be launched late in January.

Before the consultation, every house and business in Ropley parish will receive a postcard notifying them of the start of consultation. This card will include the following information:

  • The start and end dates for the consultation
  • The timings and locations of the planned public meeting and drop-in sessions
  • Links to the web pages where the plan can be reviewed and feedback given
  • Places where hard copies of the plan can be viewed and where feedback forms can be collected and delivered for those not online. The Consultation will be launched at a public meeting where full details of the plan, its policies and the ways you can provide feedback will be given, followed by a question and answer session. This meeting will take place on Tuesday 30th January 2018 at 7.30pm in the Village Hall. The consultation phase will last for eight weeks. Once ended, each piece of feedback will be acknowledged and then considered by the Neighbourhood Plan team and the Parish Council. If a change of the plan is felt to be warranted and is endorsed by the Parish Council it will be included in the final submission plan. After all feedback has been considered and any changes made, the plan will then be submitted to EHDC by the Parish Council. EHDC will then perform its own consultation on the plan with the statutory consultees, and then submit the plan to an external examiner for examination. Providing the plan passes these stages it will then be subject to parish wide referendum later in 2018.
  • There will be an open Steering Group meeting in the small room at the Parish Hall on 15th January 2018 at 7.30pm, and you can always contact us at RopleyNP@outlook.com
  • This is your opportunity to influence the final plan before it is submitted to EHDC for examination leading to the referendum, so please take the time to read the plan and tell us what you think – good or bad.
  • Following the public meeting we would encourage all parishioners to read the plan and provide us with comments and feedback on the plan policies. This can be done either online or using forms that can be collected from the Courtyard Village Shop. If you have questions about the plan or would like to discuss any aspects of it in further detail during the consultation, we will have regular drop-in sessions on Saturday mornings during the consultation where members of the Steering Group can help you.

November 2017 Update

When we prepared our previous update we had completed the development of the policies for the Neighbourhood Plan but EHDC had then asked us to carry out a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) on the draft plan based on input from Historic England, with a focus on the main housing site that has been selected. That SEA is now underway and we are expecting completion in November, which will allow us to submit the draft plan to the Parish Council for approval at their January meeting, provided the SEA does not require significant changes to the plan. Our current plan is to launch the public consultation towards the end of January.

In other developments we have revised the list of settlement gaps to remove the originally proposed gap along the parish boundary with Bishop’s Sutton. This was done on advice from both EHDC and our planning consultant based on the absence of any significant development over the boundary. The revised list of gaps was approved by the Parish Council at their October meeting and is now available on the Neighbourhood Plan page on the myropley.org.uk website together with the other previously approved policies.

The review of the Settlement Policy Boundaries within Ropley is continuing. These will become part of the Neighbourhood Plan and will supersede the current boundaries developed by EHDC in 2006.

We have also made good progress on developing the resources that will be required for the Public Consultation including a revamped web page where the draft plan can be examined and an online feedback tool that can be used for submitting comments and suggestions about the draft plan. In parallel with this we are continuing to catalogue the large number of documents and maps that will form the evidence base that underpins the draft plan

September 2017 Update

At the time of the last update we had completed policies on five of the seven objectives covering Spatial Strategy, Rights-of-Way, Protection of local character and landscape, and heritage assets. We were finalising our policies covering housing allocations and community assets including local green spaces to present to the Parish Council.

The Neighbourhood Planning team presented policies covering the last two objectives to the Parish Council in July. These were approved by the Parish Council, and are available to view on the Neighbourhood Plan page on the myropley.org.uk website together with the other previously approved policies.

To summarise, we are planning to allocate sites for 18 additional dwellings across two sites, in addition to the 9 dwellings that we expect to be built on the old Chequers site. These units together with the sites allocated under the EHDC Local Plan part 2 will cover the housing requirements of the village up to 2028, and will remove the need for EHDC to allocate any further affordable housing to Ropley as part of the Local Plan part 3 allocations. The 18 additional dwellings will be predominantly affordable housing reflecting the feedback from the 2015 village questionnaire, comprising 5 small units for social rent, 6 shared ownership units, 4 self-build sites and 3 market priced houses, spread across two sites at Hale Close and Petersfield Road. In addition it is intended that the Hale Close development will support the creation of a car park for the church once it is rebuilt and provide an opportunity to relieve the parking congestion on Church Street adjacent to the Village Shop.

Now that we have completed the policy development, we will be focusing on pulling together all the pieces of work into the consolidated plan. This will include an introduction, a description of how the plan was created, the policies and the details of the evidence base. EHDC have asked us to carry out a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) on the draft plan, with a focus on the main housing site that has been selected. This is a requirement from EHDC based on input from Historic England due to the proximity of the site to the central village conservation area, and will take approximately 8 weeks to complete. We will also be reviewing the settlement policy boundary within the village – this would have been undertaken by EHDC as part of their Local Plan part 3 development, but performing this within the Neighbourhood Plan allows the village closer control over its outcome. Once these tasks are complete the finalised plan will be put to the Parish Council for approval and the Public Consultation will start.

July 2017 Update

When the last update was written we were hopeful of starting the public consultation in the June timeframe. Unfortunately we have encountered some issues that have taken longer to resolve than we would have liked. In order to avoid holding the public consultation over the summer period which would have reduced the level of community engagement, we have decided to delay the start of consultation until the autumn.

We continue to work towards completing the policies covering housing and allocated sites within the village, completing the evidence base and drawing together all the elements of the plan into the final document. As we are now so far into the process, any changes would incur an unacceptable further delay so we can no longer accept comments or representations in advance of public consultation. Once the housing and other site policies have been finalised they will be presented to the next available Parish Council meeting. Once these are approved, we will prepare for the launch of the public consultation.

The policies covering the other fully approved objectives are available on the Neighbourhood Planning page of the myropley.org.uk web site. If you have any concerns with the policies that have been approved, then everybody will have the opportunity to comment or suggest revisions during the public consultation phase.

We also plan to improve the design of the Neighbourhood Plan page on the myropley.org.uk web site ahead of the consultation phase to ensure that the information about the plan is as easily accessible as possible.

The forthcoming Public Consultation phase is really the opportunity for all Ropley villagers to take a hard look at what the Neighbourhood Plan team has spent the last couple of years doing and provide us with feedback on what you think. The team has been dealing with landowners on potential housing and green space sites and we have had to respect their privacy during those discussions, so we have not been free to disclose details of these sites until the plan is ready for consultation. Every household in the village will be notified of the start of the consultation phase and will be invited to a village meeting where the plan will be presented in detail. The meeting information will also be posted on village notice boards and myropley.org.uk. Hard copies of the plan will be available to view in prominent locations around the parish, and the plan will be available to download from the myropley.org.uk web site. A further web site, hosted by futuredynamix.com, will be available for parishioners and organisations to give feedback on the plan. Written feedback will also be accepted on forms that will be available from the Courtyard village shop, and completed forms can be posted to or deposited at the village shop. The consultation phase will last for 8 weeks.

The Plan team have always highlighted that this is a unique opportunity to shape the future development of the village and that you will have control of its outcome – the forthcoming village meeting, the following consultation phase and finally the referendum are your opportunities to exercise that control.

April 2017 Update

Since the last update was published, the Neighbourhood Plan team has focused on the last outstanding policies covering potential housing sites, heritage assets and green spaces and we are pleased to report that these are now largely complete. At the most recent Parish Council meeting a number of previously approved policies were re-submitted with amended wording to clarify their intent, and the first draft of the policies covering housing allocation numbers was presented and discussed.

The amended policies covering four of the five previously submitted objectives were approved while the amended policies covering conservation areas and heritage assets were sent back for further adjustment. The draft housing policies were also approved, but these policies will not be fully completed until the proposed list of allocated housing sites is appended following completion of final discussions with landowners which are currently taking place. Finalised polices covering this objective are expected to be presented to the Parish Council at the May or June meetings, together with the revised policies on conservation areas and heritage assets. The policies covering the fully approved objectives are available of the Neighbourhood Planning page of the myropley.org.uk web site.

Considerable time has also been spent planning the public consultation phase of the Neighbourhood Plan which will commence shortly after the final approval from the Parish Council, after which all properties in the village will be notified by post of the start of the public consultation phase and the date of an all-village meeting that will be arranged where the plan and the consultation opportunities will be presented. Information concerning the dates of the village meeting and consultation phase will also be posted on village notice boards and myropley.org.uk.

During the consultation hard copies of the plan will be available to view in prominent locations around the parish, and the plan will be available to download from the myropley.org.uk web site. A further web site, hosted by futuredynamix.com, will be available for parishioners and organisations to give feedback on the plan. Written feedback will also be accepted on forms that will be available from the Courtyard village shop, and completed forms can be posted to or deposited at the village shop. The consultation phase will last for 8 weeks.

The Plan team have always highlighted that this is a unique opportunity to shape the future development of the village and that you will have control of its outcome – the forthcoming village meeting and the following consultation phase are your opportunity to exercise that control. At the village meeting the team will reprise the questionnaire results, present the plan and how the objectives and policies created relate to those results as well as outlining the trade-offs we have made, followed by questions and answers.

February 2017 Update

Over the winter the Neighbourhood Plan team has been continuing to work towards completing the policies that will form the basis of the Plan, and this work is now almost complete. This has included undertaking the assessment of the 33 sites submitted for potential additional housing, surveying the structures nominated as heritage assets for protection and identifying green spaces for protection. We have also begun the work of preparing for public consultation and examination of the plan which will precede a village referendum – more on this later.

Policies covering three objectives were presented to the Parish Council in January, and all were approved with minor revisions, meaning that we have now completed policies covering six of the seven plan objectives. The approved policies have been posted on the myropley.org.uk web site.

We have identified 5 green spaces within the village that we are proposing for designation as spaces protected from development. The spaces identified are the fields between Vicarage Lane, Hook Lane and Petersfield Road, the field between Church Street and Church Lane, fields between Ropley House and the recreation ground, pastureland south of School Lane and the area surrounding the village pond. There will be the opportunity to suggest further additions to the green space designations during the forthcoming public consultation.

Work continues on the remaining policies covering the governance of new development, including sites selected for potential future housing. When completed these will be submitted to the Parish Council for approval. The group is also assessing the need in the parish for self-build and affordable housing, which would otherwise be included within EHDC’s Part 3 allocations under the Joint Core Strategy. Once this assessment is complete policies and site allocations will be generated covering this housing class and, once approved, they will be included in the Neighbourhood Plan. This should remove the need for EHDC to allocate any further sites in Ropley for this housing class and thus provide more certainty for the parish on housing numbers.

Finally, the Government has now published its Housing white paper. Initial analysis suggests that as EHDC has an up-to-date local plan together with a 5 year land supply, and that the Neighbourhood plan is proposing to allocate housing sites to cover the needs of the village, we should be protected from any imposition of additional housing beyond the Local Plan Part 2 and Neighbourhood Plan allocations.

September 2016 Update

Since the June update, the Neighbourhood Plan working group has continued to develop policies for the draft plan, and have presented the first group of developed policies to the Parish Council for discussion and feedback.  The Housing Needs Assessment prepared by AECOM has been delivered and its findings reviewed by the Steering Group who have determined a proposed housing requirement for the parish. We have also completed the recruitment and training of the site assessment and land character assessment teams and they are currently undertaking their tasks to produce evidence to be used within the plan.

As part of the landscape character assessment we are also performing a review of areas within the parish that provide significant biodiversity value so that we can shape policies that will provide protection for these. We are currently assessing the following areas – Ropley Ridgeline (the area running from Ropley Soke through Lyeway and Charlwood to Monkwood) and Park Lane Woodlands (the area at the end of Park Lane to the parish boundary with Bishops Sutton). If you feel that there are other areas that offer significant biodiversity value then please let Graham Flatt know (email grahamflatt1@btinternet.com) and we will consider adding them to the assessment schedule.

We are also reviewing structures in the parish that may warrant protection through policies. A structure could be a house, farm building, or any other building/structure of historic or architectural significance. Ropley already has two conservation areas as well as 44 listed structures including 4 tombs in the churchyard, but we are interested to hear if you feel that there are other structures that should be protected through Neighbourhood Plan policies. Please contact us at RopleyNP@outlook.com.

Finally, during the March public meeting we committed to providing six-monthly updates, so there will be a further public consultation meeting on Wednesday 21st September at 7.30pm in the Sports Pavilion at which we expect to present an update on the policy development and assessment results – please book this date in your diaries.

If you would like to understand more about Ropley’s Neighbourhood Plan and get involved to support its development then either

  • come to the open Steering Committee meetings in the small room at the Parish Hall, held on the second Monday of each month at 7.30pm. Meetings will be held on 12th September and 10th October.

June 2016 Update

Following the adoption of the Neighbourhood Plan objectives by the Parish Council in April, we have turned our attention to formulating the policies that will enforce the plan objectives, starting with ensuring that any new development is well integrated into the existing landscape, the built environment and that discrete settlements are discouraged from coalescing, followed by protecting the rural landscape and character of the Parish including views into and out of the village centre and from public rights of way. We hope to present these policies to the Parish Council for approval at their July meeting.

We have also created a suite of site assessment criteria that will be used to evaluate the land parcels that have been submitted to the steering group through the landowner registration process. These site assessment criteria were presented to and approved by the Parish Council at their May meeting, and we are now forming teams of volunteers to assess these sites over the summer. In addition a second team of volunteers is getting ready to start the landscape character assessment which will highlight the key landscape features of the village that must be protected by policies.

We have now been granted funding to undertake a Housing Needs Assessment (HNA) and are in the process of finalising the parameters for the task. It will be undertaken by an external contractor with experience in performing these assessments.

Finally, a further public consultation meeting will take place on 21st September at 7.30pm in the Sports Pavilion at which we expect to present the plan policies prior to the start of the public consultation period – please book the date in your diaries.

If you would like to understand more about Ropley’s Neighbourhood Plan and get involved to support its development then either

  • contact your Neighbourhood Lead using the contacts link on the right hand side of this page, or
  • contact the steering group at RopleyNP@outlook.com, or
  • come to the open Steering Committee meetings in the small room at the Parish Hall, held alternate Mondays at 7.30pm. Meetings will be held on 4th and 18th July, 1st and 15th August.

April 2016 Update

A lot has happened since the February update on the Neighbourhood Plan. We have posted more detailed analysis of the questionnaire results on the myropley.org.uk website, applied for funding for the Housing Needs assessment, continued the development of the plan objectives and policies, and completed our call to landowners for potential housing sites. We have also held two meetings to update the village on progress, one an open village meeting and the other as part of the Ropley Society AGM, and then presented the agreed plan objectives to the Parish Council for approval, which was granted. These meetings generated a lot of interest and several questions, some of which highlighted some areas of misunderstanding about neighbourhood plans that we will try to address here:

Why is the Neighbourhood Plan different from the Parish Plan, Village Appraisal and the Village Design statement?  Once approved by referendum and adopted, the Neighbourhood Plan is a statutory document that EHDC planners are required to take into account in deciding planning applications within the parish. All of the previous documents could be overridden by planning law.

Why are we calling on landowners for more sites?  We are trying to make the plan as future proof as possible by building a prioritised list of preferred sites that can be used as housing demand arises. Sites will not automatically be approved – they will be assessed against the plan criteria and policies before inclusion in the plan.

Why are we doing a Housing Needs Assessment?  We want to compile an assessment of the total housing need including upsizing, downsizing and social housing, as well as adult offspring of current villagers wanting to acquire their first home. This will also serve as key piece of evidence for the plan.

36 houses already have permission against our target of 43 – why are we doing all this for just 7 more houses? 7 is the remaining target up to 2028 against the current local plan. We anticipate that it is highly likely that the government will require higher targets in future, so, as indicated above, we will try to future proof the plan by providing a pipeline that can be used to respond to future needs – possibly before 2028 if required.

What is the difference between houses built within the settlement policy boundaries (SPB) and those built outside?  In general terms development is not permitted outside the SPB while, subject to planning policy, development within the SPB will be permitted. The demand for housing could not be met within the SPB so EHDC called for sites (the so called SHLAA) adjacent to the SPB where development would be allowed.

If you would like to understand more about Ropley’s Neighbourhood Plan and get involved to support its development then either

  • contact your Neighbourhood Lead using the contacts link on the right hand side of this page, or
  • contact the steering group at RopleyNP@outlook.com, or
  • come to the open Steering Committee meetings in the small room at the Parish Hall, held alternate Mondays at 7.30pm. Meetings will be held on 9th and 23rd May, 6th and 20th June.

Request to Local Landowners – February 2016

We want to hear from landowners who have aspirations to develop their land for housing. This will inform us of sites which are potentially available for development, enabling those potential sites to be considered during the preparation of the Neighbourhood Plan.
The resulting list of sites may be used in evidence during the examination of the Plan.

Landowner Registration – click here to download a registration form

January 2016 Update

Since September we have completed the data input and numerical analyses of the 335 responses received to the Neighbourhood Plan questionnaire, and are now working on the analysis of the responses to the free format questions. Once this is completed it will be available to view on the myropley.org site. We have also received the funding we applied for through the Government Locality scheme and engaged the services of a Neighbourhood Planning consultant who will help us to structure the plan as required by law and by EHDC before it goes for examination.

Over the next two months we will be focused on translating the questionnaire findings into a set of neighbourhood policies that refine those in the national and local planning requirements, establishing a set of criteria for evaluation of potential future housing sites, and engaging with local landowners to discover sites which would be available and that meet those criteria. We aim to begin the consultation process at a presentation held as part of the Ropley Society AGM on March 16th.

What is a Neighbourhood Plan?

It is a community-led project for guiding the future development, regeneration and conservation of an area. It is not a tool to prevent development and it will not affect planning applications that have already been submitted. It may contain visions, aims, planning policies and proposals for improving the area or providing new facilities, or allocation of key sites for specific kinds of development, or preventing specific types of development in specific locations.

Neighbourhood Plans have statutory authority. This gives them far more weight than some other local documents, such as parish plans, community plans and village design statements, and local authorities or planning inspectors have to make decisions on the basis of the polices contained in the Neighbourhood Plan

The scope and complexity of a plan can vary. It could be wide-ranging, or deal with just one or two issues only. We’ve gone for just one issue to start with, housing. This is to play catch-up and tie in with EHDC publishing their new planning policy, due in December 2015.

Why Bother With The Neighbourhood Plan?

We could leave everything to the EHDC planners in Penns Place. But beware; many of the surrounding villages to Ropley are already working on producing their own Neighbourhood Plans. Any villages or settlements without one are more at risk of future over development and less able to influence future housing allocations and infrastructure development.

Have Your Say

To GET INVOLVED and HAVE YOUR SAY contact your Geographical Lead