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Minutes of the Meeting of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group held in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, Bideford on Thursday 26 September 2019


North Ward:
Cllr J Herron

South Ward:
Cllr Mrs S Langford
Cllr R Wootton

East Ward:
Cllr Mrs R Craigie
Cllr J Craigie

West Ward:
Cllr Mrs K Corfe


Mrs H Blackburn (Town Clerk)
Mrs C Parsons (Administration Assistant)
Mr I Rowland – Senior Planning Policy Officer TDC


There were no apologies for absence.


No declarations of interest were received.


There were no members of the public in attendance.

014.      MINUTES

The minutes of the meeting held on 11 July 2019 were approved and signed as a correct record.

(Vote – For: 5, Against: 0, Abstentions: 1)


The Chairman, Councillor Mrs R Craigie welcomed Ian Rowland, Senior Planning Policy Officer at Torridge District Council to the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group meeting.

Mr Rowland explained to the steering group that Neighbourhood Planning was introduced by the Localism Act in 2011 and that there were two main parts to neighbourhood planning; neighbourhood plans and neighbourhood development orders (which include community right to build orders).

The idea behind localism being that decision-making is passed down to a more local level, from national or local government to local communities. Town and Parish Councils, along with neighbourhood forums can produce neighbourhood plans for their local areas, putting in place strategies and policies for the future development of their local area.

Neighbourhood Plan Steering Groups, Town or Parish Councils preparing the plans have the opportunity to engage with the community from the beginning to make sure the range or needs and wants are a representation of the local area.

Mr Rowland then went on to explain about the different elements of neighbourhood planning:

• A neighbourhood plan puts into place planning policy for a designated area to help guide future development. A neighbourhood plan is about the use and development of land and a plan may contain visions, aims, planning policies, proposals for improving the area or the provision of new facilities within the designated area, or the allocation of key sites for specific kinds of development.

It may also deal with a wide range of social, economic and environmental issues (such as housing, design, heritage, transport and employment) or the plan may focus on only one or two issues. Neighbourhood plans have legal force.

• Bideford’s Neighbourhood Area was designated on 5 February 2018.

• The issues contained in the plan must be relevant either to the whole neighbourhood or just part of the neighbourhood.

• It is up to the Steering Group when producing the plan to decide on its scope and what content it should cover as a planning document. It is important to take into account and consider what the local community’s wants and needs are and to specify these when drafting the plan.

• The Steering Group is responsible for the preparation of the neighbourhood plan. The Local Planning Authority (Torridge District Council) will provide support as a statutory function as part of the neighbourhood planning process.

• If successful at the referendum stage, the neighbourhood plan then becomes part of the statutory development plan for the area. This gives the plan more weight than a parish plan.

• A neighbourhood plan must meet certain conditions:

1.      The plan must contribute to the achievement of sustainable development
2.      Have regard to National Planning Policy and guidance
3.      Be in general conformity of strategic policies of the local plan
4.      Be compatible and compliant with EU obligations

• The neighbourhood plan should not promote less development than that already identified in the local plan for the local area (such as new housing allocations). For Bideford, there are 4129 proposed new dwellings in the Local Plan up to 2031.

• During the neighbourhood planning process, the community must be actively engaged. This engagement must be evidence based to ensure that the neighbourhood plan is based on the wants, needs, views of the community. The community can be engaged in the following ways:

1.     Public meetings and exhibitions
2.     Questionnaires and surveys
3.     Website, social media, newsletters and posters
4.     Workshops and Focus Groups
5.     A presence at community events
6.     Providing feedback

• When evidence gathering, the Planning Department at Torridge District Council will be able to give support and signpost the steering group, and it will also be able to share its evidence base where applicable.

• Key visions, issues and aims need to be identified.

• The Neighbourhood Plan needs to be written in draft form. The draft will include the policies, proposals and site allocations. Consideration at this time needs to be given to diversity sustainability, equality and diversity.

• The community and those that live and work in the local area are invited to comment on the draft plan. Those invite to comment should include Devon County Council, neighbouring local authorities, and parishes, Natural England, Torridge District Council.

• The Local Planning Authority (TDC) will be happy to look over the draft plan before it goes out to the public for comments.

• All comments on the draft plan are then considered and judgement is made to ascertain whether these comments need to be heeded or acted upon.

• A Consultation Statement showing who was consulted and what issues were raised is prepared, along with a basic Condition Statement detailing performance and whether the plan fits with National Policy.

• When the Neighbourhood Plan is ready in draft format, the draft plan and supporting documents are then passed to the Local Planning Authority (TDC) for the consultation process. The plan is subject to an independent examination. This is to ensure that the proper legal process have been followed and the plan meets with the specified conditions.

• The Neighbourhood plan process is not a quick process and it often can take up to 18-24 months to draft the process. There is a 6-week public consultation period on the draft plan once it is prepared, in order for the local community to have their say on it.

• During the independent examination, an examiner is appointed by the Local Planning Authority (TDC). Any modifications and recommendations that are deemed necessary are made at this point. This ensures that the legal requirements are complied with. The publication of the plan can then go forward, with the Local Planning Authority making the final decision on the whole process.

• The Plan will then be put to a public referendum within the parish and voted on at parish level. This must be publicised for 28 days prior to the actual Referendum. If the referendum fails the plan must be revisited at the draft state and re-submitted. 50% of those voting in the referendum are needed to vote “yes” for the plan to come into force.

• Referendum and examination costs are covered by the Local Planning Authority. However, the elements up to submission are the responsibility of the Town Council.


There is possible financial support available.

• There are specific neighbourhood planning grants. The basic grant is obtainable through the Locality neighbourhood planning support programme up to £9,000 across a 7-year period. This amount must be spent within a 12-month period but multiple applications can be made up to the maximum

• Additional grant funding may also be sought up to £8,000 for more complex issues, if certain criteria are met:

1. Allocating sites for housing in your neighbourhood plan
2. Proposing to include design codes in the plan
3. The writing of business led neighbourhood plan
4. The preparation of a plan for a cluster of 3 or more parish council
5. Neighbourhood Plans for areas of over 25,000 population

• There is further additional funding available if the plan is to includes affordable housing for sale.


There is technical support available via Locality in the following circumstances:

1. Allocating sites for housing in the neighbourhood plan
2. Proposing to include design codes in the neighbourhood plan
3. The preparation of a Neighbourhood Development Order
4. Groups wishing to bring forward affordable housing for sale

Technical support cannot be used to fund consultants that may have been chosen to deliver support.


Terms of Reference are the document that supports a neighbourhood plan steering group. It provides the structure around what the responsibilities are and who does what.

This document provides structure and details how the steering group operates, along with that of the members of the group. Typical terms of reference may include:

• Background
• Purposes & objectives
• Principle
• Tasks and Activities
• Roles
• Meeting Arrangements
• Finance
• Any changes to the Terms of Reference
• Group membership
• Dissolution of the steering group

 Members were then given the opportunity to peruse a map of the local area showing the housing allocations for Bideford., along with housing and employment land, and development sites.


After discussion the next steps to move forward were identified. These being:

• Members of the Steering Group to read the Local Plan online before the next meeting
• Members to have read all documentation on the Neighbourhood Planning that had been emailed out prior to this meeting
• Community Engagement - ideas on how to get the community engaged and interested in the Neighbourhood Plan
• To look at Renewable Energy for Neighbourhood Plans (Cllr James Craigie)
• A brainstorming session to include a list of policy ideas to be included in the plan


Councillor Mrs Craigie proposed, and it was seconded and

RESOLVED That: the date of the next meeting is Thursday 7 November 2019 at 6.00 pm in the Council Chamber.

(Vote – For: 6, Against: 0, Abstentions:0)


The Chairman thanked Ian Rowland for attending the meeting and for his invaluable help and knowledge.

The business of the meeting having been completed, the Chairman thanked the members for their attendance and the meeting concluded at 8.35 pm.

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