TWYFORD NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN – HAVE YOUR SAY
Please Note: A dedicated Neighbourhood Plan website now exists. The following provides a brief overview.
Background: What is Neighbourhood Planning?
Neighbourhood planning is a right for communities introduced through the Localism Act 2011. Communities can shape development in their areas through the production of Neighbourhood Plans and the policies contained within them are then used in the determination of planning applications.
It must be stressed that the policies produced cannot block development that is already part of the Local Plan. What they can do is shape where that development will go and what it will look like.
How does it work?
The local parish will lead on neighbourhood planning in their areas.
The approval and adoption process involves publication by the Parish Council of draft proposals and consideration of comments before submitting the proposed plan to the South Downs National Park for further consultation and then approval; and then independent examination of the draft plan. A community referendum is held at the end of the process.
The referendum is an important part of the process, allowing those that live in the neighbourhood area to decide whether or not the Neighbourhood Plan comes into effect or not. This is direct democracy and outlines the importance of working with the wider community and securing their support at an early stage in the process.
Regular consultation with the Community is of the essence of neighbourhood planning.
Twyford Neighbourhood Plan and its vision
The Twyford Neighbourhood Plan (TNP) is a project of Twyford Parish Council in partnership with the South Downs National Park Authority (SNDPA). The project was started in 2013 and a partnership agreement entered into with SDNPA with a plan boundary set for the whole Parish. Councils and the Government are providing financial and other support. The TNP will set the policies for the village for the next fifteen years or so and determine how planning applications are decided. The TNP plan will address the needs of the village as a whole, representing all sections of the community.
The Parish Council has established a Technical Advisory Group which meets regularly under Councillor Chris Corcoran’s Chairmanship, to prepare the plan and assemble the evidence required.
By 2036 Twyford will have strengthened its vibrant community, whilst retaining its village size and enhancing its historic character within the downland landscape of the South Downs National Park. It will have developed sustainably as an attractive place to live, work and visit, with new buildings of the highest design quality, meeting changing local housing, shopping, employment and community needs. The character of different parts of the village will be recognised and enhanced. New developments will support a dynamic and compact village centre, green open spaces and corridors, improved traffic impact management and improved walking and cycling connections across the Parish.
- To retain the size and rural character of Twyford as a village within the western reaches of the South Downs National Park.
- To ensure a vibrant and thriving community by providing new housing to meet local needs, and through development support for local retail, employment, service and leisure facilities.
- To strengthen a dynamic village centre, integrating other parts of the Parish, particularly through the location of new developments and community facilities, and by improvements to walking and cycling routes.
- To manage and reduce the impact of traffic on the village, improving road safety and meeting parking needs, especially through new development.
- To improve the quality of the built environment by requiring the protection and enhancement of existing special qualities, and the highest standard of design and layout in new developments.
- To green the village by enhancing the relationship of the village to its surrounding National Park landscape, and by providing for open spaces, wildlife habitats, and green areas, particularly through new developments.
See the South Downs National Park vision and objectives – CLICK HERE
Do you agree with this vision for Twyford and the objectives?
Consultations to date:
We have consulted villagers in the following ways:
- Exhibition in Gilbert Room
- Survey forms
- Housing Needs Survey sent to all households
- The Graze Festival stand, manned all day
- Visits to Village groups, schools, pubs etc
- Discussions with landowners
- Survey of businesses (ongoing)
- Village Character Assessment prepared by local volunteers
- Meeting and displays in Twyford Social Club to present landscape report and site selection process.
Housing: A central Issue
Housing is one of the central issues which the TNP must address. We have carried out a range of studies to help us establish the policy framework and quantify the need for more housing in the village.
The Site selection process: Introduction and summary
The issue is additional housing for the village and where it should go.
The SDNP requires Twyford to find new land for 20 houses in the plan period in addition to infilling; the Parish Council has accepted this total and local opinion favours new affordable housing for local people.
The Technical Advisory Group has adopted a systematic approach to identifying the best site or sites, as there may be more than one. It first mapped sites around the village. Then it agreed on the site selection criteria; it used the same criteria adopted by SDNP for their local plan but also added some of its own. Then it applied the criteria to the sites; where the sites are equal in other respects the Advisory Group favoured those which local people have supported. Ithas also been helped in the appraisal of the landscape impact of development by studies from Terra Firmaand Spindrift Consulting.
As the result of this process, two sites emerge as the front runners; the land east of the parish hall and surgery and a plot of land at Northfields.
What follows explains the process the Technical Advisory Group used to decide on the best sites for further investigation. This note explains the following issues and questions:
- The starting point for the neighbourhood plan
- Why any more houses in Twyford?
- Why 20 houses?
- How many of these will be affordable?
- Deciding the site selection criteria
- Mapping the possible sites
- Applying the criteria: The Sieve Process
- Applying the criteria: Public Opinion
- Applying the criteria : The landscape evaluation
- The preferred sites
- The public meeting
- Questions arising at the meeting and what we are doing
- The consultation process.
A. The starting point for the neighbourhood plan
The Twyford Neighbourhood Plan cannot operate in a vacuum; it has to work within the guidelines set by a number of higher authorities, in particular its status as designated National Park. These are:
- National Planning Policy Framework March 2012 with revisions
- Planning Policy Guidance March 2014 especially on Neighbourhood Planning
- Winchester Core Strategy 2013
- South Downs National Park Local Plan Preferred Option September 2015
- The Environment at Act 1996 (this provides part of the statutory framework for all National Parks)
B: Why any more houses in Twyford?
The South Downs National Park Authority sets the number of additional houses which the Park as a whole has to provide. The number of houses inside a National Park is not based on the same criteria as outside it. In a National Park, the focus is on meeting local need, but with the overriding obligation to protect its landscape and natural beauty. Market demand is to be met outside the Park.
The SDNPA calculates the overall total and then decides how these should be distributed throughout the National Park. It does so on the basis of size of settlement and level of facilities. So Petersfield and Lewes are required to meet the lion’s share of the National Park total, with villages like Twyford supplying only a small number.
The Twyford Housing Needs Survey was commissioned to test if there was a genuine local need for more housing in the village. The results are that there is a shortage of affordable housing and social housing and of housing for the elderly.
C. Why 20 houses?
20 houses is the total proposed for Twyford by the South Downs National Park Authority in its draft local plan. This would be Twyford’s contribution to the requirement for the National Park as a whole. The 20 houses are to be on new land and are in addition to any infilling which could add a similar number by infilling and redevelopment.
D. How many of these will be affordable?
The Neighbourhood plan can require 40% of new allocations to be set aside for affordable housing. There has been strong support from the village for a substantial amount of new housing to be affordable with a preference for social rented housing. There are currently changes being proposed by the Government in the definition of “affordable” which may affect the emerging Neighbourhood Plan.
E. Mapping the possible sites
The Advisory Group decided to look at all the land around the edge of Twyford as the next step in the site selection process. It first mapped it all and divided the land up into different parcels, based in part on its understanding of land ownership. It based this on work done by Twyford Parish Council about five years ago when looking for an affordable housing exception site. It also added five sites which landowners had themselves put forward to the SDNPA for consideration as part of the SHLAA process – CLICK HERE to see the SDNPA document.
F. Deciding the site selection criteria
The process of site selection is a normal part of local plan preparation. As a result, the TNP has been able to draw on well-established practice. The South Downs National Park Authority is itself currently engaged in this exercise across the whole of the National Park as part of its own Local Plan. It has published its own ASSESSMENT CRITERIA. The TNP is adopting the same guidelines for its own use.
In addition to the general criteria, the Neighbourhood Plan is adopting two further ones of its own; relationship/distance from village facilities and public preference as shown in responses to questionnaires and consultation.
You will see that a wide range of information is required to carry out the Assessment. Some of this is factual, for instance on areas of flooding and nature conservation, while others are policy based, such as the exclusion of land and premises in use for employment.
G. Applying the criteria: The Sieve Process
The Site Assessment is carried out by applying the criteria to each site methodically and on the same basis.
The Advisory Group decided that it would divide the task of evaluation between Landscape, on which it would obtain professional advice (see below) and the remaining criteria, which it would apply itself.
It duly carried out this exercise for each site on a preliminary basis in order to identify a limited list of six sites for detailed landscape evaluation by consultants. These together with two additional sites added later are shown on Figure 1 of the Housing Site Assessments CLICK HERE. The Advisory Group revisited this to make sure that it has been consistent and thorough. If a further site is shown to perform better or there are any questions about the Advisory Group’s methods or conclusions, it will consider it further.
The results of the sieve process can be viewed HERE. These tables are also referred to in section N
H. Applying the criteria: Public Opinion
Over the past year, the Advisory Group has asked for opinions on which land is best for new housing and recorded what people told it. It applied the results to the sites which emerged from the sieving process described above. This helped narrow the list to six selected sites which the Advisory also asked itsLandscape consultants, Terra Firma and Spindrift, to evaluate.
I. Applying the criteria : The landscape evaluation
Landscape architects, Terra Firma, were appointed to carry out a systematic evaluation of Twyford’s Landscape. They were first to carry out a Landscape Character Assessment of the whole parish and then to use this study to assess the impact of housing options. They have reported on the six sites and identified one site S1 as suitable and another, site 26, as possibly suitable in part.
J. The preferred sites
Sites S1 and part of site 26 thus became the Advisory Group’s preferred sites. Site S1 is undeveloped land at Northfields. Site 26 is north of Hazeley Road adjacent to the Surgery. They have been supported in the public participation exercises; they are not ruled out by the Landscape Evaluation and both land owners are interested in developing.
Both are larger than is required to accommodate the 20 extra dwellings. More detailed briefs were subsequently discussed with their owners. This was done before any final recommendation was made to the Parish Council on site selection.
K. Defining the village boundary
Defining a settlement boundary is a key step in the planning process, especially in villages in the national Park. Inside the boundary, additional development such as infill is normally acceptable, though this may be subject to density and design criteria. Outside the boundary the normal countryside policies will apply opposing new development except in carefully defined exceptions; these enable normal countryside activity to continue and thrive.
The Twyford Village boundary has been in place for about 40 years, as part of a series of local plans. Terra Firma looked at this boundary to see whether it is still appropriate. They have applied the rules recently established by the SDNPA for the South Downs as a whole. They have suggested a number of additions and exclusions, all of which are minor. Their report on this is available on the link below (see link in Section N).
L. The Public meeting
A public meeting and display was held at the Twyford Social Club in February 2016 and again in September 2016 in Twyford Social Club. The following presentations were made:
- Introduction and update on Neighbourhood Plan progress
- Site assessment criteria
- Landscape character assessment
- Amendments to the village development boundary
- Landscape Assessment of sites.
- Site Selection Process
- Village Character Survey
M. Questions arising at the meeting
A number of issues were raised at the public meetings. These included:
- The size of dwellings, with a preference for small family ones
- The density and the consequent land take
- Provision for self-build
- Preference for several sites rather than one
- Preference for affordable housing
The Advisory Group have addressed all these matters.
N. Documentation and Plans
The following documentation has been prepared for the plan, in part by the Advisory Group itself and part on its behalf by experts – click on the links as indicated:
- Housing Needs Survey by Action Hampshire with Winchester City Council Housing. July 2015
- Site Selection: Identifying possible sites and selection of six preferred sites – CLICK HERE
- Landscape Character Assessment – Terra Firma Feb 2016 – CLICK HERE
- Village Envelope Settlement Boundary appraisal – Terra Firma Feb 2016 – CLICK HERE
- Evaluation of six sites – Terra Firma Feb 2016 – CLICK HERE
- Sites Map – CLICK HERE
- Village Character Assessment – CLICK HERE
In addition the Advisory Group have used the following documents which the South Downs National Park Authority has prepared for use in the preparation of their own local plan:
- Site Assessment criteria – CLICK HERE
- Settlement Boundary Review 2015: Methodology – CLICK HERE
- Settlement facilities assessment Sep 2015 – CLICK HERE
See THIS LINK to the SDNP local plan website with its evidence base; the Evidence Base for the Draft SDNP Local Plan in particular the mapping of designations such as Nature Conservation, Flood Zones, Listed Buildings etc
O. Consultation on the above
A consultation exercise was carried out and finished on the 1st May 2016. This was analysed and a draft plan was published for further consultation which commenced on 14th September. As before, information was available from volunteers at Twyford Social Club on 14th September between 2.00pm and 8.00pm and via the dedicated Twyford Neighbourhood Plan website.
The Draft Twyford Neighbourhood Plan has been approved by the full Parish Council and submitted for a Strategic Environmental Assessment after which feedback received will be assessed and conclusions and recommendations by the Advisory Group will be submitted to the full Parish Council. If changes to the draft are not substantial the draft will then be subject to a formal public consultation, referred to as ‘Per-submission Consultation’. This is currently expected to occur in June or July 2017. Depending on the outcome of the consultation and whether the draft remains largely unchanged it can then be submitted to the SDNPA.
Submission of the draft Plan to SDNPA will result in checks to confirm the draft complies with relevant legislation and may then lead to another formal consultation before the draft Plan can be put before an Independent Examiner. The Independent Examiner will, after their examination, issue a report and this could lead to the decision to put the draft Plan to a public referendum.