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


COVID-19 and the Neighbourhood Plan
Coronavirus and lockdown inevitably put a temporary halt to the processes of Neighbourhood Plan preparation. Local consultation was extended to five months instead of six weeks. Momentum was lost, delay was a disappointment, and lockdown restrictions inhibited local debate.

Local services – shops, health centre, library, churches, pubs - were closed. Home-schooling replaced in-school education. With home-working the new norm the Eden and Old Brewery Business Parks and the Pill Precinct were quiet. Planning for new developments at Ham Green slowed. Community involvement was very limited.
In contrast the numbers of walkers and cyclists – local residents and visitors escaping Bristol - flourished. Leigh Woods, Watchhouse Hill and other open spaces became even more popular, whilst an overcrowded and unsafe Abbots Pool had to be closed for the summer.

Against these and other pressures the already powerful sense of local community and identity described in Chapter 11 survived and strengthened. Individuals and community organisations came together to offer comfort, support and resources to counter the social isolation and dependency of families in need.

Reflecting on the eight months from March to November 2020 the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group has looked back at the original Vision for the Plan (see Chapter 4). This remains appropriate and the range of planning policies and community actions set out throughout the Plan are still fit for purpose. Above all the three key Principles underlying the Plan – Protection and Continuity, Resilience and Change, Cohesion and Collaboration have proved to be more relevant after the months of COVID-19 than they were in March.

Coronavirus has not gone away, but the Neighbourhood Plan sets the scene for development and change over the next six years. It also provides a local baseline against which the local implications of the North Somerset Local Plan 2038 can be assessed and taken forward. Many of the issues raised and proposals suggested in this plan will remain relevant to strategic thinking for the decade beyond 2026, but new challenges will emerge – ever-growing use of the countryside and open space, the cumulative impacts of climate change, reforms of the planning system, the need for both affordable and market housing, growth of Royal Portbury Dock and a possible Freeport. It is against these challenges that we will revisit and update this plan.