Under the Localism Act and the National Planning Policy Framework, all local authorities have to create a local plan for building development in their area. Ours is the High Peak local plan, which is a statutory document, adopted in 2016 for 15 years. As part of this towns, parishes and defined neighborhoods within that local authority area can create their own neighborhood plans, which fill in the detail within the local plan and have to take it into account. The neighborhood plan would cover developing land for housing, employment, retail, education and employment and would provide the missing voice in the plan – the wishes of the local community!
If there is no local plan, the government could stand in and our voice wouldn't be heard! In High Peak, there are currently neighbourhood development plans either completed or underway in the Chapel-en-le-Frith, Chinley, Buxworth and Brownside, and Whaley Bridge and Furness Vale neighbourhood areas. It's normally the Parish or Town Council that initiates a plan, but as Buxton has no town council, no moves have been made until now.
I attended a public meeting about a possible neighborhood development plan for Buxton on the evening of March 27th at the Palace Hotel, called by the Town Team. The initial talk was given by Joe Dugdale from Rural Action Derbyshire and Richard Silson, a retired town planner. They explained that initially a neighborhood forum of 21 people would be formed of representatives of community organisations. This body would submit the plan but the work to run the project would be done by a steering group which would oversee task groups eg on housing, transport. The area covered by the plan would be defined and evidence gathered. Then there would be a consultation with the community, a plan drawn up, the plan redesigned, a further plan drawn up and the final neighborhood plan sent to a designated examiner. Finally a referendum of the whole community would vote on the plan and, if the majority accepted it, the plan would pass into planning law.
The forum would have to be recruited by a qualifying body, usually a local organisation, and the Civic Association, Vision Buxton and the Town Team were suggested. The meeting took the decision that a neighborhood development plan should be created for Buxton and voted that the Town Team, if they agreed, should be the qualifying body. After the meeting, I learned that the Town Team would not take on the task and that a bespoke organisation should be formed to recruit the neighborhood forum and the steering group. This is being taken forward. There will be further chances for the Green Party to get involved in the neighborhood plan and I have joined the google group (firstname.lastname@example.org) to keep up-to-date with developments.