Neighbourhood Plan to be delayed

Good news in the Faversham Times today (14 March): the Neighbourhood Plan steering group has noticed that “a lot of people are saying they aren’t being consulted” – and so the whole process is to be delayed and there will be further consultation.

Bad news: this will consist of an exhibition at which the public will be invited to give feedback on artists’ impressions of plans for various sites.

Why is that bad news?

1. If there are artists’ impressions, then a plan must have already been drawn up –so we are not to be asked what we want, or offered a range of genuine alternatives, we are to be invited to comment on what the landowners and developers want us to have.

2. An exhibition like this will be designed to show development proposals in the rosiest possible light – the sunny summer Sunday vision, not the wet Wednesday in winter. This is not consultation, this is marketing.

“The purpose of undertaking community engagement is to inform the content of the plan. If the outcomes have already been determined, then community engagement is tokenistic (marketing).”

Quick Guide to Neighbourhood Plans

3. We’ll be asked to judge the plan on the basis of what it looks like, not what it does – how much business it will bring to Faversham, how many jobs it will create, what it will contribute to the Creek as a working waterway. That’s the sort of thing people care about.

4. In a discussion of the Neighbourhood Plan by the Faversham Creek Consortium on 15 November 2012, it is noted that “It would be important to remember that the Plan would not specify design so, in that sense, it was irrelevant whether people liked or disliked particular planning applications … the issues would revolve mainly around the use or uses of the site.” If this is the case, then artists’ impressions are equally irrelevant – pretty promises that the Neighbourhood Plan will be unable to keep, so an exhibition on this basis seems pretty pointless.

If the Neighbourhood Plan and referendum are to be delayed, this is an ideal opportunity to go back to basics, listen to the people of Faversham – we’re stakeholders too! – to find out what we really want, and then support us and work with us to find ways to deliver it.

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5 thoughts on “Neighbourhood Plan to be delayed

  1. Michael Maloney

    I am like many Faversham residents confused by the Neighbourhood Plan. I am aware that so far an awful lot of money has been spent with very little consultation with the residents. It seems to me that engaging the residents should be the first priority of any and all committees. Could it be that the committees are really not representative of the community ?. Local engagement is an essential. Without this you will alienate the thousands of Faversham residents who require and demand a voice in decision making. It’s called democracy !!!!

    Reply
  2. Nathalie Banaigs

    The key here is to involve the residents, isn’t? It’s all very well to have a Neighbourhood Plan, but what will actually happen must not be decided by a small group of people, but discussed in depth with the residents. 18,000 of us, that is a lot of voices that need to be heard… and listened to.
    The residents will express their opinions, some people will like it, some won’t but that is the price of democracy.

    Reply
  3. Harold Goodwin

    Indeed we do need a Neighbourhood Plan but it needs to reflect a the diversity of views in the town. At the moment there appears to be a very large democratic deficit with meetings between a very few people being held in secret, The process is very far from transparent.

    It will not be acceptable; if in May we are consulted about some pretty pictures- artists impressions of what might be built.

    The consultation for the Neighbourhood Plan needs to be about land use and local priorities – anything short of this is non-sultation. We see too much of that in Faversham

    Reply
    1. Anna Bales

      I find myself very much in agreement. It concerns me greatly that the diversity of people on the Faversham Creek Consortium for example has dwindled very considerably and it is the same few names that appear to keep cropping up on various public bodies. It seems as though just five or six people have decided what Faversham should become and that the actual residents of Faversham can’t be trusted to have a say in the future of Faversham. The Neighbourhood Plan is very much needed, but will we get a real crack at openess and true consultation? I think we should be told.

      Reply
  4. Griselda Mussett

    As I understand it, we would probably be better off WITH a Neighbourhood Plan than without one, because otherwise developers can apply piecemeal for their sites without any community say-so. We have to reach a consensus, or sufficient agreement, for a referendum to have a majority approval. I guess most sites around the Creek would not cause too much dissent. There remain some which really do need to be safeguarded for maritime activity, for a sustainable revival to benefit the whole community through employment, tourism, traditional enterprises etc. The drawings may help throw some light on matters – or not. We wait to see.

    Reply

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