Neighbourhood planning enables communities to play a much stronger role in shaping the areas where they live and work and supporting new development proposals. Unlike the parish, village or town plans that communities may have prepared a Neighbourhood Plan is an official planning document alongside the Local Plan prepared by the local planning authority. Future decisions on planning applications will therefore be made in accordance with both the Local and Neighbourhood Plans.
Neighbourhood planning provides an opportunity for a community to set out a positive vision of how it wants its locality to develop over the next ten to twenty years, in ways that meet local needs and make sense to ordinary people. They themselves can set planning policies to deliver that vision by allowing developments they want to see.
By taking a longer term approach development proposals that might have come forward one at a time may now be considered together. This will allow better consideration of the supporting services that are needed. Also by focusing on specific information about a community its future needs can be anticipated and built into development proposals. This could be lost if the Borough Local Plan was the only reference. Finally as the community has to approve the Plan in a referendum it will become much more difficult for a developer or land owner to alter a scheme of his without public consent.
Portland is at a cross-road in regard to its future. There are many and various ways the Island might develop.
A Neighbourhood Plan allows residents a say in shaping that future, which is why the Council supports its formation.
The Council has established two groups to progress the plan:-
The Management Group consists mainly of councillors, who oversee the Plan’s budget and progress and report to the main Council. At present the Group also has two lay members.
The Working Group comprises members of the community who have volunteered their skills to draw up a Plan.
Portland Neighbourhood Plan Website
The Plan has its own special website at www.portlandplan.org.uk, where details of information collected, progress to date and future work may be seen.
At present (Summer 2014) the Working Group is collecting information via consultations among the community, Island businesses and sectors difficult to reach such as the under 25’s. The Business and Community Surveys will be available online at the Plan website.
Meanwhile the Town Council will be writing to official stakeholders, voluntary groups and organisations to advise them of the Plan and invite responses. It will also write to land owners about their development plans.
Once sufficient information has been obtained from the consultation exercised it will be summarised in a public report. From this the Town Council will draft a vision and objectives statement with potential policies and strategies. At each stage there will be further opportunity to consult the public and make appropriate alterations. This process will last from Autumn 2014 to Spring 2015. The resulting Plan will be voted on in a local referendum.