What happens next?
Because of the Covid-19 emergency, the Neighbourhood Plan timetable has become very uncertain. But much has been achieved already and we can do a lot more through remote working.
In February/March 2020, we held two drop-in sessions which were very well attended. A residents survey also went out to all households in the parish. This survey is now closed. We had a 35% response rate which is exceptional. We will shortly publish all the results. A business survey has also gone out.
We have also written to all stakeholders to seek their views, including statutory and infrastructure bodies, local organisations and interest groups, landowners, local representatives and adjacent parish councils.
We recently commissioned a Green Infrastructure Survey and the desk-based parts of this work are about to start.
The Steering Group continues to meet remotely.
Although there is considerable uncertainty about the way forward and there will be delay, we show our original timetable from Summer 2020 below so you can see what the next steps should be.
Our neighbourhood plan must meet certain specified ‘basic conditions’. These are to ensure the plan has regard to national policy and guidance and is in general conformity with adopted local plan policies. The Steering Group will work during the coming months to ensure these legal requirements are met whilst promoting the needs, priorities and visions identified during our consultations.
There will be opportunities for the public to comment on a draft vision for the Parish and a range of options for the future.
Based on public consultation feedback, we will aim to prepare a draft plan for public comment around the end of 2020. This is an obligatory formal step known as ‘pre-submission’ consultation (Regulation 14). Feedback at this stage will inform a final draft ready for submission to Bedford Borough Council. If all goes according to schedule, this will be achieved in early 2021.
Bedford Borough Council will carry out their own consultation on the plan and check the necessary documents have been provided. Following a period of publicity, the Borough Council will arrange an independent examination to check the plan is sound, the technical reports have been completed and legal guidelines have been met.
Subject to any changes the assessor recommends, the plan will be put to a local referendum within the Neighbourhood Plan area. A majority is required in favour of the Plan before it can come into effect. Current planning is for this to be achieved by late 2021.