How it all began
The catalyst for beginning the Neighbourhood Planning process was the work already underway to examine the feasibility of either re-development or a new build of Freshford Memorial Hall. A small group was formed – The Freshford Memorial Hall Re-Development Group and during the course of last year they carried out a considerable amount of work including a survey of local residents, consultation with all hall user groups, an assessment of the needs of each group and a Design Brief. It was then suggested that contact be made with the Princes Foundation as some funding might be secured to advance outline designs for this community scheme and that the Princes Foundation were well placed to offer expertise and assistance in taking plans forward.
Initial contact with the Foundation was positive and in the course of informal discussions it became evident that the Foundation would welcome involvement, particularly if the scope of the scheme was widened to embrace the wide range of issues affecting the community as a whole and so bring the scheme within the broad ambit of a Neighbourhood Plan. The concept of Neighbourhood Plans is novel and is introduced by the provisions of the Localism Act of 2011. The Government wish is to empower local communities to take a more active role in the development of planning policies at a local level. It was at this point that the two Parish Councils of Freshford and Limpley Stoke agreed to join together and lead the project on behalf of the community.
What was on offer
The PC’s understood that the help and support offered by the Prince’s Foundation would take the form of a two day workshop comprising these elements – two public meetings one at the beginning and one at the end of the process, a one day workshop attended by local ‘stakeholders’ and a second workshop day for internal workings/design etc with contributions from stakeholders if required.
Involvement of ESHA Architects
The Princes Foundation appointed ESHA Architects of Bristol to take on the role of project leaders and facilitators.
Planning for the event
The first public meeting was held on the 31st January 2012 at the Memorial Hall, Freshford, and the two day workshop took place on the 16th/17th February. Publicity was given via the local newsletters, hand delivered to each home in the two Parishes, through advertising boards placed at key points in the villages and on the local web sites. In addition invitations to local ‘stakeholders’ were sent out by personal email to approximately 100 persons inviting their participation on the 16th February at the all day workshop. Representatives of the Local Authorities – Planning, Social Housing, Highways, and the Highways Agency were invited to attend so that they could contribute to the process.
The ESHA Report
Following on from the public meetings and workshops, ESHA prepared a written Report which incorporated the Project background, the Community Planning Process, key diagrams and emerging principles on issues that include transport and parking, delivery of affordable housing, preferred opportunity sites, a landscape strategy, and concept designs for a new Village Hall. Appendices included a summary of all information gathered from the community, their aspirations and concerns, key issues, attendees and programme of the workshop.
The Report reflects the wide range of views expressed by the community over the course of the two public meetings and workshop days. Part of the point of the initial public meeting and of the first day’s workshop was to encourage fresh thinking. Some of the ideas put forward both in the post-it note exercise and workshop sessions were not necessarily practical in themselves but helped to stimulate other, more constructive suggestions. ESHA recorded all the comments made, without any attempt to weed out those that are obviously impractical.
The Parish Councils have been awarded a Grant of £20000 from the Department for Communities and Local Government to provide support towards expenditure incurred in producing the Plan.
We are committed to ensuring that the voice of the community is heard and we recognise too that progress will depend on receiving the full support of the community.