Easingwold Town Council
Easingwold Library, Market Place,
Easingwold, York. YO61 3AN
Tel: 01347 822422
Neighbourhood Plan - Update
At its January 2014 meeting Easingwold Town Council (ETC) resolved to create a Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group for the town and it appointed representative members from the Council and the Public to undertake the work.
The Designated Neighbourhood Area for the Neighbourhood Plan, as approved by Hambleton District Council (HDC) for Easingwold, was the whole of the administrative area of Easingwold Parish (Town) Council, as served by the current Parish Councillors. This is a long established, well recognised and clearly defined area, which includes both the town centre, the town’s broader built up area, and its surrounding rural countryside.
At that time, the new development in the Easingwold Designated Area was defined by the existing HDC Local Development Framework (LDF) plan but this was to be further supplemented by the production of the Easingwold Neighbourhood Plan. A plan that would enable Easingwold residents to have an input into how they wished to see Easingwold evolve in the future. This would show how the infrastructure would need to be developed to accommodate increases in housing; and how other facilities such as schools, medical services, drainage, and parking would need to evolve to keep up with the growing population size.
The Neighbourhood Plan working group worked diligently throughout 2014 and into 2015, carrying out a great deal of liaison work, surveys and public consultations such that a series of draft plans emerged. These plans were progressively worked upon and improved. This culminated in September 2015 with the publication of the Draft Easingwold Neighbourhood Plan v6a. This was supported by ETC for broad consultation throughout the town and with the relevant organisations, communities and authorities that would be affected by its contents. In addition a public exhibition was held in the Galtres Centre. The Draft Neighbourhood Plan was submitted to HDC for their review and approval in October 2015, and so had reached an advanced stage.
However, this work had to be suspended by ETC in November 2015 as this Draft Neighbourhood Plan was based on the HDC-LDF (mentioned above) for its planning content. The LDF was challenged by a number of parties and compromised by a series of negative appeal decisions across the district (including one in Easingwold by Gladman for a site along Stillington Road) due to HDC’s claimed lack of an adequate forward 5 Year supply of housing. HDC was, therefore, required to replace the LDF with a new Local Plan to be ready by 2018. A new Local Plan that would provide an adequate forward 5 Year supply of housing across the district.
ETC resolved to engage with the HDC process and review the Neighbourhood Plan programme as soon as new Local Plan details emerged. The local community was informed of this situation through the April 2016 Annual Newsletter of the Council, which was published around the community and in the local Advertiser.
Fortunately, by April 2016 the situation was clear enough for ETC to resolve to ask a working group to recommence the Neighbourhood Plan work aligned to the HDC Local Plan as it emerged. During that summer work went on in conjunction with HDC and at its September 2016 meeting ETC accepted a way forward based upon a continuation document prepared by this group.
It agreed that, for the coming period, the Neighbourhood Plan working group would involve itself in building on the foundations described above. Also that it would be necessary to generate a more visionary Neighbourhood Plan for Easingwold, one that would describe both the benefits and opportunities for the future. In this way it was felt that ETC could achieve a broad consensus across the Easingwold electorate and its support in the final referendum for a Neighbourhood Plan.
It must be noted that this renewed work needs to synchronise with what HDC include in the Local Plan. This is because neither ETC nor an Easingwold Neighbourhood Plan can define or allocate development numbers. This is the role of the HDC Local Plan. ETC in its responses to HDC can try to influence preferences for one site over another within the HDC allocation. The Neighbourhood Plan can influence development type/design/layout and impact on the population.
To achieve this new brief, an element of visioning for Easingwold’s future was added to the plans and activity of the working group. This visioning would be led by ETC and would look across many parts of the total community in both its physical and social dimensions. Its purpose being to build a vision that is holistic showing how a prosperous future for Easingwold could be achieved in line with the identified development needs and requirements.
The working group held visioning meetings with the Easingwold Town Council during the winter of 2016-17. This created the ETC draft “Vision for Easingwold 2017 – 2035; A Great Easingwold Future” and a supporting summary. At its March 2017 meeting ETC agreed for this to be tested with the local community and organisations. A summary of this vision was published in the April 2017 ETC Annual newsletter and circulated locally, so that our citizens could make their provisional comments on the Council’s ideas.
In parallel, ETC had been working with HDC on its new Local plan as this process evolved. ETC gave input to HDC into the Easingwold relevant aspects of the Local Plan, and these were based heavily on the consultations and inputs received in the earlier Neighbourhood Plan work. In addition, the council held meetings on issues such as security and safety, health, drainage and education with interested parties.
One important aspect of the HDC Local Plan included a re-evaluation of the likely growth needs in housing and industry for Easingwold within the District context over the 2017-35 period. The Local Plan work also included a ‘call-for-sites’ to identify potential land for development when needed. HDC assessed all those sites offered, as did Easingwold Town Council. Initially they identified all those sites that could technically be satisfactorily developed (defined as preferred sites) and rejecting others. In a second round this will be reduced to select those sites needed to fulfil the identified development needs.
To aid this work, ETC appointed (at its November 2016 meeting) a planning consultant to assure that its responses would be robust and valid. In December ETC held a special meeting specifically on its response to the Hambleton District Council’s Local Plan Consultation, which was submitted on the 12th December 2016. It was agreed that the local prioritisation of preferred sites to fit with the Plan’s housing target would be resolved in a future stage of the Local Plan development.
In January and February 2017, ETC discussed with HDC the Settlement Character Assessments and Green Spaces Designations for Easingwold as part of their on-going Local Plan work. In March 2017 ETC responded to the North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) consultation on the Countryside Access Service.
Now, as the consultations over the ETC Vision for Easingwold 2017-35 begin, work will continue with HDC to clarify and agree the development aspects that will be included in the Neighbourhood Plan. It is expected that during the autumn of 2017 this planning, vision and consultation work will be brought together to provide a further draft of the Easingwold Neighbourhood Plan. This should be a draft that will be robust enough for a formal round of local consultation followed by the necessary assessments and finally presentation to the electorate in a local referendum.