We are proceeding with the Parish Council’s approval, on the assumption that the flood risk applying to Pools Yard and Nero Brewery will be satisfactorily resolved ahead of formal submission of our Plan for examination.

Those of you who are familiar with the trials and tribulations we have faced getting to this stage, will not be surprised to learn that there is now another fly in the ointment. As a result of a recent EU court judgement, we are now required to carry out a Habitat Environmental Assessment despite having successfully by-passed it – legitimately of course – at the Regulation 14 consultation stage.

This will prevent us moving on for some weeks but is not thought to be critical in any other sense. In the meantime, we are hoping, fingers crossed, that the sky does not fall in!

It is worth noting that there have been no direct costs to the Parish Council as the work done outside the Steering Group has been covered by Government grants. If we were to cost the time spent by the volunteer Steering Group, then I suspect that would equate to a very nice lottery win!

Chris Farrance

Chairman, Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group

The light at the end of the tunnel has started to glimmer again and there is now a reasonable chance that the Plan, which we consulted on, can now go forward with the three sites and 23 dwellings.

 

Two events have caused this optimism. Firstly, a very helpful meeting with Daryl Phillips, Chief Executive at Hart, who has offered to have the plan informally examined to see if it would still be viable even if the three sites that they have been unable to support were withdrawn at examination. This would mean that at least we would have a plan in place, although it would not be as strong as one with sites included but would mean that the sterling work of the Steering Group to date would not have been in vain.

 

Somewhat more promising is that the developers of Pools Yard have been tussling with the Environment Agency and are hopeful that the Flood Zone categorisation can be moved from 3 to 2 which would allow development there and would also include Nero's Brewery. The “Ts” have yet to be crossed but if that was the case then our plan would be intact.

 

Needless to say, that would be very welcome!

 

Chris Farrance

Chairman

Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group

Just as we felt the Plan was gaining momentum - having completed the six-week Regulation 14 consultation - the light at the end of the tunnel was turned off!

Despite having had previous notice of the brownfield sites selected (Pools Yard, Nero Brewery & James Farm), at this late stage Hart District Council raised objections to all three of them. Pools Yard and Nero Brewery were challenged because of the potential risk of flooding based on mapping by the Environment Agency - which confounded those familiar with the history of the village.

As I write we are in a sort of state of purdah as we review the feedback from the six-week consultation which ended mid-February. This feedback (labelled Regulation 14) is evidence of the formal consultation that the Parish Council has undertaken before submitting the final Neighbourhood Plan to Hart District Council for examination.

Hart District Council will then undertake a further formal consultation called Regulation 16. At this point, all the documents will again be available for comment both by the community, key stakeholders and statutory consultees.