Devon communities shaping their own futures

This week (8-12 December) celebrates ‘Neighbourhood Planning’ and the Localism Act 2011 which has given people a voice and the opportunity to influence planning and development decisions affecting their local community.

Many rural communities recognise the value and benefit that further development can bring such as much needed affordable housing, securing local infrastructure such as village shops and schools, and developing new projects such as community halls and play areas. The challenge has been ensuring this development fits with the characteristics and needs of the local community, rather than the aspirations of large developers.

The Localism Act 2011, which includes Neighbourhood Planning, for the first time gives communities the opportunity to shape their future and define a vision for the sort of development they want, backed by a statutory framework.

Developing a Neighbourhood Plan is a long process and requires the engagement of the whole community. But when put in place it can protect characteristics of the local community whilst encouraging appropriate development.

For example one of the few completed Neighbourhood Plans in Devon, for Lynton and Lynmouth, includes policies to protect the high street; by restricting the change of use of shops, pubs and cafés, and encouraging affordable housing that is only available for people with a demonstrable connection with the parish.

The message here is of a positive future for rural communities, looking to the local communities own creativity and innovation to deliver local growth and development in a manner appropriate for the community.

The Buckland Monochorum Neighbourhood Plan which covers 5 villages, two within Dartmoor National Park and three within West Devon is being prepared in order to enable us to look forward and plan ahead and ensure, wherever possible, that the facilities, including any future development, within the Parish are shaped for the future population.

Ric Cheadle, Chair of Buckland Monochorum Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group

Neighbourhood Plans are an investment in time, money and commitment but the reward is for rural communities to have the potential to influence planning, it gives them a voice and the tools to control and shape their own futures.

Martin Parkes
Senior Projects Officer
T: 01392 248919 ext*106