Abbots Leigh, Ham Green, Pill and Easton-in-Gordano Neighbourhood Plan consultation on submitted Neighbourhood Plan

Abbots Leigh, Ham Green, Pill and Easton-in-Gordano Neighbourhood Plan

1 Introduction

1.1    What is the Neighbourhood Plan?

A Neighbourhood Plan is prepared in order to guide the long-term development

of an area. Set within the broader context of national and local planning policies and housing targets, the Plan reflects the community’s wishes about the appropriate location and nature of local development. Underpinning all aspects of the Plan is sustainability, with community engagement also crucial to the preparation of the plan. The Plan is only approved after a local referendum.

The Localism Act 2011 encourages local communities to draw up a Neighbourhood Development Plan. In areas where there

is a Parish Council it takes the lead in neighbourhood planning. Abbots Leigh, Ham Green, Pill & Easton-in-Gordano are all distinct settlements, but have a number of important planning and development issues in common, including:

  • A concern about urban sprawl from the edge of Bristol down to the M5 motorway should development be allowed to spread along the
  • A related concern over risks to the Green Belt with valuable open space, together with environmental and heritage assets at threat of
  • A recognition that the A369 is, and will increasingly be, overloaded with related concerns about speed, safety, noise and
  • Appreciation that the Avon Gorge, the Avon itself and the longshore towards the Severn represented an asset valuable to the whole neighbourhood

In July 2016, therefore, the Parish Councils of Abbots Leigh and Pill & Easton-in-Gordano agreed to undertake a joint Neighbourhood Plan, with Pill & Easton-in-Gordano Parish Council having formal lead responsibility.

 

1.2 Preparing the Plan

.A request to North Somerset Council in May 2016 for a Neighbourhood Area covering the whole of the two parishes was approved in August 2016. Throughout 2017, effort was put into explaining to local communities what the Plan involved, what were the challenges facing the area, and how preparation of the Plan would proceed. Initial consultation revealed the key issues. In 2018 work was moving forward in the collection of data about the main themes of the Plan – housing, transport, environment, heritage, economy, climate change and community. In the autumn of 2018 and again in autumn 2019 grant funding was obtained from Locality, and three consultants were  commissioned to provide background analysis on transport, environment and energy.

Through late 2018 and the first half of 2019 Background Papers were finalised and consultation moved ahead with a range of events, meetings, interviews and mini- questionnaires (details in the Consultation Statement). A website was created and a Steering Group established, drawn from the two parish councils together with additional community members with relevant skills and experience.

From spring 2019 the outlines and structure of a plan emerged and in the autumn 2019 exhibitions of findings and proposals to be included in the Plan were presented in three exhibitions across the Neighbourhood Area in Abbots Leigh, Pill, and Easton-in-Gordano. In November the Steering Group brought this material together and a first full draft plan was finalised and agreed in January 2020. The Plan was submitted to North Somerset Council for HRA/SEA screening in March 2020 and local consultation undertaken in a period extended as a consequence of COVID-19 from mid-April to mid-September.

Background Papers were prepared to assist the community in understanding and responding to the key issues facing the neighbourhood. They provide much of the information and evidence on which the Plan is based but have been overtaken by further local consultation and do not address recommendations for policy. The main Plan text draws on, and summarises, these Background Papers but is a complete and free-standing document.

Policy issues are addressed in the main plan and are divided into two categories:

Planning Policies which have a direct impact on plan-making and planning applications (Bold letters i.e HO 1...., Emp 2..... etc and under the headings of "Planning Policies" in each section. They are coloured red in the Plan itself, but that isn't possible within this document).

Community Action Policies which can be taken forward by the parish councils, community organisations or other agencies but are not explicitly planning focussed (they are prefaced by "CA/...."  under the heading Community Action Policies in each section here. They are coloured in blue in the Plan itself but that isn't possible within this document).

In order to assist both the local consultation process and the subsequent North Somerset Consultation (also six weeks), and also to assure local residents that appropriate policies do exist, the policy sections at the end of each chapter include a list of those North Somerset Council

Core Strategy Policies and Development Management policies which apply, but are not repeated in this Plan.