In the words of Swale Borough Council (at a conference on ‘localism’, 8 March 2013), it is good for us because of: using local knowledge/skills, getting people more active in the community, making communities more cohesive, getting facilities locals really want, greater flexibility, real decision making – and finally: no longer ruled from Sittingbourne – destiny in their own hands.
And how did the plan come about?
Again, in the words of Swale Borough Council: The government encouraged the development of a number of neighbourhood plans ahead of the enactment of legislation through the Neighbourhood Planning Vanguard Scheme. Swale Borough Council was awarded £20k to assist with the development of the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan. The Council applied to become a planning ‘front runner’ and then asked Faversham Town Council to lead the process.
So the people of Faversham never asked for a Neighbourhood Plan.
Faversham Town Council didn’t ask for a Neighbourhood Plan.
Swale Borough Council – encouraged by central government – decided we should have one.
No longer ruled from Sittingbourne? Destiny in our own hands?
We are guinea pigs for the Neighbourhood Planning process, and we’re paying over £100K for the privilege – way beyond the original budget because, as guinea pigs, the council had no idea what it was letting itself in for (as is evident from the minutes of steering group meetings).
There’s localism for you!