Following on from our report to the Forum in November last year, we can report that a final referendum version of the Plan has been submitted to Council. The intention is that this goes to a Referendum alongside other elections on May 6th (or as a later stand-alone referendum if the elections are delayed) to be voted on by those on the electoral register for local elections and living within the BBEST boundary.
As we noted last time there has been a 100 page independent examiner report (received at the end of September), and a Council response to this which accepted all major policy recommendations (in mid-January 2021). We have reworked the Plan to represent the examiner’s views (as legally we must), and submitted that to the Council. They tell us that they plan to publish that on March 12th. Once the Council issues a decision statement containing a detailed intention to send the Plan to referendum then the Plan can be given significant weight in planning applications.
A number of our policies, as we said in November, did not survive the examiner’s scrutiny. Some because they would be enacted in other ways (for instance around a number of environmental aspects, and some housing issues), and some because they were not allowable in a neighbourhood plan (active travel policies for example had aimed to reduce road transport impact, but were not allowable as they covered transport issues rather than spatial ones – a major problem for the planning system in our view). In due course we will review with the Council the seven year process that has led to this outcome. In the meantime we can be very pleased that we have some substantial policies, that, over time, will substantially improve our neighbourhood.
The Plan’s policies will:
• protect two well used public open green spaces: St. Marks Green and the triangle of land outside the Hallamshire Hospital,
• protect two key areas of green space which are important settings for local buildings: The Nottingham House and the Spiritualist Church,
• enhance the quality of new build student accommodation, possibly reducing pressure on houses
• make all substantial new housing development provide for some family units (3 bed),
• improve the design of conversions, and avoid over-dense developments,
• encourage a better designed and more lively retail centre,
• enhance shop frontages and design, ban externally mounted shutters, and make building heights appropriate in the retail centre,
• safeguard walking as a key means of movement in the area,
• establish some overall design principles for planning applications,
• conserve the character of the Endcliffe area.
We will now hold the AGM, by Zoom, on the 13th March, probably from 2-4. At this we can discuss the current progress the council is making with our Plan and do our best to answer any questions people have about it. We will be asking for nominations for the Steering Group. Please do consider joining this.
The role of BBEST will be changing after the Plan referendum, assuming it issuccessful, to a monitoring role, which is important, but substantially less work than developing the Plan! Possibly three meetings a year of the Group, one with all the Forum and one with Development Management to review the Plan’s enactment in the past year.
Professor Peter Marsh, Chair BBEST Neighbourhood Forum