Stoke Fleming Parish council decided that the Neighbourhood Plan should cover the whole of the parish, not just the village, in late 2013. Terms of Reference were submitted to South Hams District Council in January 2014 and approved after a six week consultation period. A parish meeting was held in the Village Hall in May, and two other events – enabling people to come together and share their views on what they would like to see included in the Plan, were held the following month.
Under the terms of reference a Steering Group was set up, consisting of parish councillors and volunteers from the community. The Steering Group met for the first time in July, and decided to form four working parties that would each deal with specific aspects of the Plan. Additional people were co-opted to strengthen the working parties. The current members of the Steering Group and working parties are: Bob Benns, Paul Bond, Barry Clark, Struan Coupar, Simon Dowden, Katie Franks, David Harris, Martin Judd, Mary Newman, Sophie Rae, Sarah Simnett, Alan Stockbridge, Nick Teage and Nick Wood.
In November 2014 work began on producing a consultation document that would set out a range of options. That would be delivered to every household in the parish, and the responses to that would help shape the first full draft of the Plan. The document, now entitled Choices for Change and containing 55 options across a range of topics, has now been finalised and was distributed with the Stoke Fleming Magazine towards the end of March.
Responses can be dropped in at the Post Office, Library and Green Dragon, but there will also be a door-to-door collection a week or ten days after distribution. People can decide for themselves whether to give their name or remain anonymous, but either way confidentiality will be respected. Where contact details are given it will be possible to enter those responses in a Prize Draw, with a cash prize of £100.
As part of the effort to improve two-way communication about the Plan, and other matters of local interest, a new website has been created and can be found at www.stokefleming.org. Some elements still have to be finished off, but it is substantially complete. Comments can be posted on a new blog, named VOICE, or post a comment about a News item or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. A Facebook page has also been set up.
There was a very good response rate to Choices for Change, with returns running at about 50% – very high for an initiative of this kind. The Steering Group wishes to thank everyone who took the time and trouble to respond. The views expressed will help formulate the policies that will go into the draft Neighbourhood Plan.
The responses were collated and have now been published as three pdf files on this page.
The first files – Choices for Change responses – is a table showing how people expressed their views on all of the 55 options. People were able to indicate whether they were “strongly in favour”, “in favour”, “against” or “strongly against” – or “don’t know/care”. As well as giving the numbers who voted in each of those ways the table gives a simple total for all who voted for or against each option.
The second file is a commentary on the responses, intended to put things into context and hopefully also make the results easier to interpret than the bald numbers.
The third – What you said – is a series of extracts from the comments made by people on response forms. It is not exhaustive or verbatim, but gives a fair indication of the range of views expressed.
Work will now begin on analysing the results of the household survey that was on the final page of response forms.
The £100 prize was one by Mrs D C Morris. The draw was carried out at the Hort & Sports plant sale and coffee morning on Saturday 2nd May.
The Steering Group published details of the General Policies it had adopted on planning matters. It also published a list of Provisional Policies covering other aspects, from Roads, Transport, Open Spaces and Community to Environment. Both are available as pdfs on this page.
By October many sections of the Neighbourhood Plan had been drafted, potential housing sites had been identified and assessed, and the list of potential policies had been reviewed and updated. A fresh Public Consultation was announced, to be held on Monday 23rd November from 3.00 – 8.00 pm in the Village Hall.
At that event full details of the draft Neighbourhood Plan were unveiled. Parishioners had an opportunity to see all the detail, and to discuss the contents with members of the Steering Group. The Draft Plan is now available on this page as a pdf.
The community’s reaction to that was reviewed in the early part of 2016 and work progressed towards a revised and more substantive draft. June – Dec 2016 During the course of the summer months South Hams District Council joined forces with West Devon Borough Council, the two pooling their resources in order to achieve substantial cost savings This led to a Joint South West Devon Local Plan being announced, and to various changes in personnel and organizational structures, which impacted on the work of neighbourhood planning groups across the region. New advice was issued on how neighbourhood planning policies should be framed, and this caused the draft Stoke Fleming Plan to be revised again. Finally, the combined South West Devon district planning authority entered into an agreement with Plymouth City Council to produce an even larger Plymouth and South West Devon Local Plan. One of the consequences of that was that Plymouth and its immediate environs were earmarked as the intended location for the greater part of the new housing to be built over the next fifteen years, with a consequent reduction in the number of houses likely to be required to be provided in other areas, particularly in parishes such as Stoke Fleming. The Steering Group therefore carried out another major review, reducing the scale and scope of its previous plans.
January – June 2017 Those factors led to the production of the version, which is the Stoke Fleming PreSubmission Draft Neighbourhood Development Plan. The Draft Plan has entered a pre-submission consultation period during which the views of the community and of a number of statutory bodies will be sought. The plan was for the consultation period to commence with the publication of the PreSubmission draft on April 10 and end on May 22. However, at the last moment SHDC decided a full Strategic Environmental Assessment would be needed, instead of the much simpler “screening” it had originally suggested would be sufficient. This is expected to finish in late June, and the consultation period therefore has been extended. After any final amendments the Plan will be submitted by the Parish Council to South Hams District Council for review by a Public Examiner, whose job is to ensure that it complies with all legal requirements and ensure that it is sufficiently clear and precise to be used by Planning Officers as a guide when considering planning applications. Once that final hurdle has been passed SHDC will arrange for a referendum to be carried out, in which all electors in the parish will be entitled to vote. If it is passed by a simple majority it will come into force and carry statutory weight, enabling the community to shape development within the parish for the next 20 years.