Well there were more people in the Church than I have ever seen, so I assume this is now a subject close to a lot of people's heart. Adding another 100 houses to village will affect everyone, but that was not what the meeting was all about.
So the Government have bought in the Localism Act, this by all intents and purposes put the kibosh on our Community Lead Plan (that we, the village, had put two years work on) the new thing to have is a Parish Neighbourhood Plan, the team are two months away from completing the plan.
It became evident to me, that Chichester District Council are not our friends when it comes to deciding on what happens in our village. Don't get me wrong, there will be a need to expand the village, the building of homes is inevitable, but if we can get a Neighbourhood Plan ratified, it ties the hands of the Council in what, how and where these properties consist of.
Because Kirdford already has a CLP, we are ahead of the game, this has been recognised and we have been awarded a grant to produce the Neighbourhood Plan; this is where the Prince's Foundation comes in.
The Prince's Foundation are experts in community planning and helping communities formulate their own Neighbourhood Plans. They have planners, experts in highways, experts in social planning etc. – a very good organisation working alongside you.
The goal of today's meeting was to get the 'local's' view on what should go into the plan, this was done by doing various exercises around the church, highlighting what to keep around the village, where the opportunities for expansion are etc.
The Foundation will be working thought the night, then having a workshop with key stakeholders tomorrow with a view to producing a proposal for the village Wednesday night.
Once the plan has been formulated, by both our team together with the Prince's Foundation, there will be referendum, so that everyone in the Village can say yea or nea to the proposal, if it is approved, it will then be submitted to Chichester District Council, once this is done it is a legal document, giving the Council Planners a policy document on what they can and cannot approve about the developments in our Village. It is hoped that the Neighbourhood Plan can be submitted to CDC in spring 2013.
I think I have understood what came across this evening:
If we do nothing, Chichester has carte blanch to do whatever they like with our Village.
If we agree a Neighbourhood Plan, we, the Village, control how our beautiful home grows over the coming years.
The choice is yours.