The Neighbourhood Plan for South Woodham Ferrers – What’s involved

In our earlier items on the Neighbourhood Plan you will have seen that the Town Council has committed to work with the local community to produce a new Plan.

As part of the process of explaining what this all means we offer our short guide on what we need to achieve together to make the Plan a reality.

Step 1 – Getting Started

We have to confirm what the area the plan will cover and we have now completed the formal application based on the existing town boundary. We now are working to invite the community to be involved in the process and will be launching the Plan Steering Group after the Annual Town Meeting on 8 April 2016.

Step 2 – Getting Organised

The new Steering Group will need to work out its budget and funding and will decide the timescales for the work that will need to be done and it is suggested that it develops a detailed communication strategy for ensuring the community remain informed and involved.

Step 3 – Research and Evidence

Looking at the needs of the community and undertaking research to see what the community wants. Some aspects of this are quite detailed and involved such as the need to complete a Sustainability Appraisal and an Equality Impact Assessment, but equally there will be plenty of opportunities to carry our surveys in the Town to get a practical understanding of what is needed.

Step 4 – Drafting a new Plan

This is where we start to draw up some conclusions and recommendations. The objectives and vision for the future need to be agreed and local priorities identified. The Steering Group will need to consider the impact of their proposals and then consult with the community on the draft Plan. This is often done at a special open day or exhibition.

Step 5 – Finalising the Plan

After some fine tuning the Plan needs to be finalised and checked to ensure it complies with the requirements of the law. This is a process that will involve representatives of Chelmsford City Council. An independent Examiner will be appointed to review the Plan to ensure that it is sound and complies with the legal requirements.

If all is well the last word rests with the community. A referendum will be organised and only if the community agrees with the Plan will it be adopted.
In total we think the 5 steps will take some 3 years to complete. It may seem quite daunting but there will be plenty of opportunities to talk about the issues and interests you may have and the more involved we all are in the Plan the better the outcome should be.

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