Open letter to the Parish – October 8th 2020
On 7th October I received an email implying that the NDP process was being conducted in an underhanded manner, although it is unclear where these accusations are coming from. This is not only a reflection on the Steering Group, it also calls into question the behaviour of the Parish Councillors, who fully endorse what we are doing, and specifically me in my role on the Steering Group and the Parish Council. I can state unequivocally that this is most definitely not the case and all information and minutes for both the PC and NDP are posted on the website where everyone can see where we are up to. This matter will be an agenda item for discussion at the November PC meeting which, I remind you, is open for any member of the public to attend. I would like to thank those Councillors who have responded with positive support for what we are doing.
For the avoidance of doubt, I would like to explain where we are and how we have reached this point.
To begin with, this process has already taken too long. The main reasons for this are:
- A delayed start despite several of us pushing the PC back in early 2017 to begin. Work did not start until mid-2018 and we had our first public meeting at the Millennium Hall in November. Later that month, the PC called a halt to any further work
- In May 2019, the new PC restarted work immediately which led to the issuing of the questionnaire later in the year and the results of this were presented in the Millennium Hall by our consultant in February 2020
- Hereford Council, meanwhile, were delaying the outcome of the Leeward House decision and our best advice was to do nothing until this was decided which finally happened in August
- As a result of the delay, we were required to return our remaining grant money and make a new application, and these funds only arrived in August so finally we could move on
- In the 33 months Since the start of 2017, we have only worked on the NDP for a total of 16 months through no fault of anyone on the Group, and I would like to thank all those who have helped move it forward.
- The current situation is that the Parish is required to find 38 new properties by 2031; 14 are already completed and 15 are committed i.e. in planning approval but with no guarantee they will ever be built. This leaves us 9 properties to find in the next 10 years
- Hereford Council have refused to allow us to include the 5 caravans at Windy Hollow and the lodge at Phocle Lake in the totals, claiming that they were all part of the housing stock prior to 2011. Whilst it is clear to us this was not the case (the Council did not even know the caravans existed at the time); HC would not budge on this so we took the decision at PC it was time to move on
- At the September meeting, after a lengthy debate during which members of the public were present and contributed, the PC decided by the narrowest of margins that, based on the evidence before them, a Call for Sites would be the best and fairest way to proceed and would give control back to the PC and Steering Group
- Our Consultant was subsequently instructed to carry on with this and we are now in the process of advertising this on the Website, Twitter and Facebook feeds, on all Parish Notice Boards, at the Hall and in the Phone Box. A notice will go in the November Chimes and the Hereford Times
- Nobody will receive an individual invitation to make a submission as this could be construed as favouritism by anyone who does not receive one
- The opportunity to make a submission will end on 30th November and there will then be an independent assessment of the suitability of sites in accordance with a formal process known as the Housing Site Assessment. We expect to have information to share by the end of February but in the meantime, there will be no further NDP meetings or intervention to allow the Consultant to do this job fairly and without any external influence or bias
- Our Consultant has asked Hereford Council to share any submissions they may have received during their own recent Call for Sites
Following this we will move to the next stage which is for the Consultant to produce a Draft NDP and this will include any sites deemed appropriate to meet the target.
A public meeting will be held, current circumstances allowing, once we have something to share and discuss.
In a change of direction from Hereford Council, the following statement was made:
Previous advice gave neighbourhood planning groups the option to produce a plan which is criteria policy based or contained site allocations. However, since the update of the National Planning Policy Framework, you are strongly advised to consider the inclusion of a site allocation within your plan. This is to ensure that in the continuing likelihood that a five-year supply is not demonstrated, your plan will retain full weight in any planning decisions.
In other words, an NDP with a site allocation is the best possible defence we will have going forward against additional Planning Application submissions not included within the NDP document.
There is nothing new in any of the above, it is all in minutes and documents and in the public domain. If anyone still has doubts, criticisms or questions they wish to level against me or my fellow Councillors, we will happily debate them and provide a response. This will be done openly at a PC meeting.
If anyone feels I have failed to keep you all fully informed, may I apologise profusely, but I believed we were communicating everything fully.
This PC has made great issue of being open and honest with you all. We have made the PC meetings far more accessible to everyone, and information that was previously kept secret has been shared fully as we are required to do. Nothing has been hidden. Despite the challenges of Covid, the PC has continued to meet on a monthly basis and all members of the Parish are welcome to join us online at our Virtual Meetings. If anyone wishes to join and is nervous about Virtual Meetings please contact me, it really is simple.
The Chair, Keith Cornwall, is known to many of you and is always available to discuss any concerns you may have. Please do not hesitate to contact any of us or any other Councillors on any subject.
8th October 2020
Update on Progress in 2019
I am conscious that an update on progress is long overdue and an explanation of why things slowed considerably this year.
After the NDP Day at the Millennium Hall last November I went back to the Parish Council with a list of things that we felt were not within the remit of the NDP committee. As a result, the PC told me stop work while they considered what they wanted to do next, so nothing happened until after the May election.
As you know, in May, 6 of the councillors stood down and we were left with only four people on the council, of which I was one, so in addition to the NDP which we were keen to push on with, we had some huge problems to overcome on the PC.
As far as the NDP was concerned, we were all delighted to start work again which enabled us to issue the questionnaire to you all in September. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who took time to complete them, a massive 53% return, well up on most parishes. I would also like to thank Jan Stevenson, Andy Parr and Guy Cooper who just got on with the task of producing the questionnaire while we were distracted trying to get the PC moving forward.
In the middle of all of this, we lost our consultant and had to engage David Nicholson as a replacement. We are delighted to have him on board, and he has been invaluable in helping prepare the questionnaire. He is currently analysing the results. To enable him to do this, every response had to be entered onto spreadsheets and word documents and a massive thanks must go to Claire Newman for taking this on.
So that is where we are. David will present back to the NDP Steering Group in January and there will be an update for the Parish at 7:00pm on 18th February at the Millennium Hall so please put this date in your diary.
As far as the items that I took back to the PC, we are now trying to deal with some of them. The hottest topic without doubt, was Road Safety and Speeding. Alison Feist has been in meetings to see what we can do, and local parishioner Howard Eldridge has instigated the setting up of a Community Speed Watch that we are supporting. We need volunteers so please get involved. For my part, I have just drafted a traffic calming proposal document that will go to Balfour Beatty to see what, if anything, we can get finances for. All these things take time, nothing moves quickly, so please bear with us. Please be assured we are trying our best through both the NDP and the PC to make things better for the Parish and will make sure that everything is discussed fully at the PC meetings every month so please come along.
NDP Steering Group Chair
Monthly Update – Number 6, November 2018
The NDP Steering Group met on 22nd November. At the meeting we were able to review the feedback from the Open Day which so many of you attended. Firstly, can I thank everyone that took time to come along and see what we are trying to achieve. I know many of you spent well over an hour at the meeting which we believe was attended by over 150 Parishioners. That gave us a huge amount of information to process which will help us formulate the questionnaire that will be sent out in the New Year. If you missed the event, the display material has been placed on the website where you can review it. If you have any comments, questions or views please do not hesitate to send them into me at the email address below.
Parishioners clearly have a wide range of views and concerns, some of which fall outside the remit of the NDP.
After discussion, we agreed that we could not simply set these issues aside so I have forwarded all of the
comments to the Parish Council to show them the depth and breadth of feeling in the Parish about the
following matters; Speeding and traffic calming, Millennium Hall field use, Church parking, paths/footpaths, and Lighting. I cannot make any promises about what the PC will be able to do but they will certainly know what the strength of feeling in the Parish is.
The other key categories that we have highlighted for the questionnaire are; community services, public
transport, roads, utilities, environment, local business, and the big issue – new houses. Views vary on type, size, location and size of development. Please complete the questionnaire when it arrives to have your say.
Sadly, we did ask people to indicate their age group and the results are a concern. Only 3 adults under the age of 48 attended from the Parish. Nearly half the attendees were between 59 and 69 with a third over 70. I do not believe this truly represents the community (92% over the age of 48) so if you want to shape the future of the Parish and the housing that you may be going to live in, please get involved by looking at the website and having your say. If you can get involved or you have a view please do not hesitate to contact me at the email
address below, your opinion really does matter.
Brian Spencer, Chair – email firstname.lastname@example.org
Open Day Feedback Comments, Views and Questions
I am writing on behalf of the Parish Council and the NDP Steering Group just to say a huge thank you to all the Parishioners who took the time to attend the Open Day on 10th November.
From our point of view, the day was a huge success. We believe nearly 200 people turned up and gave us their thoughts and comments. These have been collated and will be reviewed by the Steering Group over the coming weeks to allow us to produce the questionnaire which is the next phase of the work we have to do.
I know that some people were surprised at the amount of information we had on display so we have posted all of the material from the day on the Upton Bishop Website (see below) and would welcome any additional comments. These can be sent to us at email@example.com.
Many of you also left your email addresses and we will be discussing how best to share information with you in the coming months. Our key focus for now will still be Facebook, the website and the Chimes.
I trust you found the day valuable and informative. We have had a number of issues raised that we believe may be outside the remit of the NDP so we will discuss these with the Parish Council and let you know how these may be dealt
Once again thank you for attending and if you feel you could spare any time to help us in the coming months please get in touch.
NDP Steering Group Chair
Monthly Update No 5, October 2018
The NDP Steering Group met on 18th October. By the time you read this, we should have had our Open Day at the Millenium Hall and you will have had a chance to find out what our Steering Group is doing and how you can get involved and help influence the process.
At our last meeting, we spent our time discussing arrangements for the meeting and we now need to consider how things will move forward in the coming months.
Our next major task is to prepare a Parish Questionnaire that will be circulated to every household, hopefully around March/April. The questions in it will reflect what people have said to us at the Open Day and we need every household to complete and return this so that we get the best possible data to work with.
Some of you may have received emails asking for people to step forward as ‘champions’ to help us. This is not an onerous task. All we want people to do is talk to their neighbours, gather thoughts, views, questions and ideas and feed these back to us over the coming months. This will make sure that we are dealing with the topics that are important and keep on top of any changes of priorities in the Parish. Please help if you can.
In the meantime, members of the Group have already started looking at some of the topics that we believe will affect the Parish and can now start to incorporate the views that we gathered at the Open Day.
There is still a long way to go in this process but we can slowly build all of this information into a draft Plan which will eventually be shared with the Parish when it is ready. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to come forward and volunteer any information that you feel is pertinent to what we are trying to do.
If you have any questions left following the Open Day, please do not hesitate to contact me at the email address below.
Brian Spencer, Chair – email firstname.lastname@example.org
Monthly Update No 4, October 2018
The NDP Steering Group met on 19th September. Despite an initial rejection, the application for funding was subsequently approved which means the Steering Group can proceed with its plans and the organising of the Open Day to be held on 10th November is well in hand. Please attend and bring all your neighbours with you. It will only take 30 to 40 minutes of your time and you can make a valuable contribution to what is happening.
We were delighted that Chris Gooding from Data Orchard, our appointed consultant, was able to attend the meeting and answer the many questions that we had. Members of the committee will be in attendance at the Open Day to answer as many questions as we can and take note of everyone’s ideas, thoughts and questions.
Before then we will be preparing display material with information about the Parish to try and capture a variety of views from as many of you as possible. There will be maps and photographs of the area which we hope will inspire people to think about how they want the Parish to look in the future and how we can accommodate the 26 new properties with the minimum impact on the existing residents. The whole day will be designed to encourage discussion, questions and debate; and we want to hear from everyone about what other issues are important to you. We are seeking ‘champions’ to come forward from within the Parish to encourage discussion and debate amongst their local parts of the community and feed back to the Steering Group. Please do not be afraid to come forward and help if you think you can provide any assistance at all.
Armed with the information we gather at the Open Day, the consultant will then help us to prepare a bespoke Parish questionnaire that we hope to circulate in March or April. Each home will receive a copy hand delivered and we intend to arrange drop off points for when they have been completed and, if necessary, arrange for hand collection.
I am looking forward to meeting as many of you as possible on 10th November. Please make every effort to attend and remember to bring at least one person with you.
Monthly Update No 3, September 2018
Brian Spencer, Chair – email email@example.com
The NDP Steering Group met on 16th August. Since the last meeting, our finance submission has been finalised and is due for approval any day and this means that the Consultant we have appointed can start work in earnest working towards the Public Meeting date that is now confirmed as the 10th November.
It is vital that we get as many Parishioners at the meeting as possible. It will run from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm in the Millennium Hall and it will be your chance to come and give us your ideas about how Upton Bishop should develop. Whilst the NDP must deliver proposals for at least 26 new dwellings, the meeting will be about every aspect of village life and will consider all of the following plus anything else you tell us we need to consider;
1. Village demographics
4. Historical Interest
10. Community Services
11. Utilities and Infrastructure
12. Green space and play areas
The final report will also need to contain a strong Visionary Statement to give a clear message about the things that are important to the villagers of Upton Bishop. We can only do this if you come and tell us what you want it to say. There will be display boards and maps for you to view and add your comments and questions to.
Members of the Steering Group will be in attendance to discuss our own thoughts on what is important for the Parish. Please make sure you attend and bring as many of your family and neighbours with you as possible. It is vital that we get your views, questions and comments to make sure we produce a strong, robust and all encompassing document for submission to Hereford Council that will get approval of everyone in the Parish.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you believe that you could contribute to the work in any way.
Monthly Update No 2, August 2018
The NDP Steering Group met on 18th July. In the weeks since the first meeting we have all been trying to digest the mass of information that we need to understand. At the heart of this is the Local Plan Core Strategy which is the primary document we must address. Our contact from the Council attended the meeting to answer our many questions and we are starting to develop a clear vision of what we need to achieve. What follows is a brief summary of what will be happening in the coming months.
Our first task has been to apply for funding from the Council and then appoint a Consultant who will help us through the process. The criterion for selection was based on a list of appropriate companies supplied to us and six were selected. Three companies offered to undertake the work and after considering the content of their submissions and their cost effectiveness, we made a final selection. We have provisionally agreed with them that we will work towards holding our first Public Meeting on the 10th November (to be confirmed next month) at the Millennium Hall. This will be an opportunity for everyone in the village to come and see what work we have completed and have an input into what they see as the important issues. I urge everyone in the Parish to come as this will affect us all. The Parish must accommodate the building of at least 26 new properties and we need the community to assist by having their say at this event. Doing nothing is not an option as far as we are concerned. This will be followed by a questionnaire early in 2019 which will be delivered by hand to every household and collected through drop boxes or by hand.
The information will all be compiled into a draft document that will be shared with the Parish at a second meeting, probably in the middle of next year. This should reflect the input from all sources of information and eventually form the submission to Herefordshire Council. The Parish will get a final vote on its acceptance.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you believe that you could contribute to the work in any way. We will be looking at every aspect of the Parish so any information you have could be helpful.
Brian Spencer, Chair – email firstname.lastname@example.org
Monthly Update No 1, July 2018
On 14th June, the Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP) Steering Group met for the first time. The group reports directly to the Parish Council through two Council members and is made up of a total of nine volunteers. It has been set up because the Parish Council has opted to nominate the Parish as a Neighbourhood Plan Area under the Localism Act of 2011.
The purpose of an NDP is to allow us, the Parish, to identify and recommend where and what type of development should happen in our parish. This includes how to incorporate a minimum of a further 26 dwellings by 2031 as required by the Herefordshire Local Plan – Core Strategy. This is expected to take 18-24 months and involves a lot of work. It will be done with support from Herefordshire Council, together with planning consultants that the Steering Group will engage for the process.
Input from parishioners will be key to the success of the NDP to enable the Group to maintain the quality of life of everyone in the parish while embracing the need for development. The Group is made up of all local people who are very sensitive to the need to maintain the quality of life of everyone in the Parish while embracing the need to develop new housing.
Over the coming months there will be a questionnaire posted to every household, consultation meetings and other opportunities for everyone to have an input. For now, we are just trying to absorb the enormous amount of information we need to take on board. There will be a monthly update in The Chimes as well as on the UB Facebook page and website, and I urge you to sign up to them.
I have created an email address (email@example.com) which, for now, I would appreciate be used for sending offers of help. It is far too early for us to start answering questions. The help needed will be varied, ranging across specialist areas such as environment, utilities and services, transport and agriculture to name a few. As the project evolves I am sure we will need some extra hands just to help out so if you can spare a few hours please let me know.
In the meantime I will endeavour to keep everyone in the Parish up to date with the progress of our work. I know everyone on the Group is committed to giving maximum effort to achieve the best result we can.
Brian Spencer, Chair