Designed by Ian Parris © Nether Heyford Neighbourhood Plan
Revised National Planning Policy Framework
Building attractive and better-designed homes in areas where they are needed was at the centre of new planning rules published by Secretary of State Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP at the end of July 2018.
The new rules also make it easier for councils to challenge poor quality and unattractive developments, and give communities a greater voice about how developments should look and feel. This is particularly important for us in Nether Heyford, as we continue to write up our Neighbourhood Plan, based on what we as a community have said would be acceptable, and what would not, at this point in our history.
The government’s own press release clarified that adopted neighbourhood plans will demonstrate clear local leadership in design quality, with the framework allowing groups seeking such plans to truly reflect the community’s expectations on how new development will visually contribute to their area. Stronger protection for the environment is highlighted in the new national guidelines – this week the Nether Heyford Neighbourhood Plan Group received an ecological report for the parish area, noting the potential to work with partners such as the Wildlife Trust to create habitats for nature conservation. The northern part of the parish is within the boundaries of a Nene Valley Nature Improvement Area (NIA), which are large, discrete areas that deliver a step change in nature conservation, where a local partnership has a shared vision for their natural environment.
The Revised National Planning Policy Framework also sets out a new way for councils to calculate the housing need of local communities, with a positive emphasis on necessary infrastructure, affordable homes and older people’s homes. Notably, the affordable homes definition has changed to include discount market sales housing or other routes to home ownership. The robustness of our Neighbourhood Plan will be tested against such calculations and definitions, and with the uncertainty surrounding new council arrangements in the county, the establishment of our Plan is timely and essential in retaining a local voice.
This autumn the NHNPG is drawing together not only policies based on community needs, but also our history, our environment, the growth of the village over time, the impact of flooding and our village wellbeing. We will test our policies against the new policy framework and report back on any opportunities, or indeed challenges for us to overcome, that this may raise in the process.
Tom Dodd (Vice Chair NHNPG)