Neighbourhood Plans – Community Involvement is the key to success

South Woodham Ferrers Neighbourhood Plan Logo

Hopefully our earlier articles on the Neighbourhood Plan have illustrated the NP News Community Involvementvital role the town’s folk play in the process. Perhaps the best example is in the form of the referendum that has to be held once the Plan has been drafted and checked. Ultimately if residents don’t vote to support it, the Plan will not be adopted.

Whilst your vote at the end of the process is vital, it’s not a case of waiting for 3 years before you have a chance to give your view at the final referendum.

During all of the work to research and create the Neighbourhood Plan the views of local residents are essential and one of the things the Steering Group that produces the Plan has to do is demonstrate when and how it has been sharing information with and listening to you. If the Group cannot prove to an independent examiner that it has communicated effectively, the Plan cannot go forward to be adopted.

There is also the issue of what is this Steering Group? Although it is your Town Council that started the Plan process, we need to hand over the issue to a local Steering Group. The Town Council will be here to support it, but cannot control it, so in reality it really has to be your Steering Group.

Often when we look at local planning issues, we generally hear from residents who have an interest because proposals put forward may effect on their home. Certainly that may be the case with the Plan too, but there are many other issues to discuss that we think will be of equal interest. If you work in the town, spend leisure time here, belong to a community group, use local services, use the shops in the town or just travel around these parts, then you could play an important role in deciding how these are provided for in the future. Our list above does not cover everything that may be impacted by the Neighbourhood Plan, but I am pretty sure that under these headings alone we have included just about everyone already.

As we move forward and seek volunteers to come forward to help shape the town’s future, there may be many ways you can help, so please do consider volunteering to help. We would also urge you to take part in the numerous surveys and consultations that will doubtless take place in the next few years.

Lastly we hope that the Plan will attract your support at that referendum too.

It will be your Plan produced for the town by the town and surely that is too good an opportunity to miss.

Further information will be provided at the Annual Town Meeting being held on Friday 8th April 2016 at Champions Manor Hall Community Centre – please come along.