At the Keevil Parish Council meeting in March 2018, some residents expressed concerns that the Keevil Village Design Statement is no longer aligned with current Core Policies, and its influence on planning decisions for development within the village is uncertain.
With the support of the (then) Chairman and Councillors, a small project group consisting of Sarah Dow, Rob Kevan, Michael Abraham, Gerry Vaughan, Ian Simpson and Norman Owen formed to conduct a brief review and consider which of the following options might best ensure the preservation, character and environment of Keevil and protect it from the threat of insensitive development:
- Confirm how much weight an updated Village Design Statement would hold in planning decisions.
- Consider whether a Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan would be a useful option.
- Investigate whether a Neighbourhood Plan may be a worthwhile approach for the long term.
A more detailed project outline provided to the Parish Council is here: Proposal for Keevil VDS-NP Project_1.2
A 14-page report documenting the group’s findings and conclusions was delivered to Keevil Parish Council on 3rd May 2018. You can download the full report on the link above.
SUMMARY & RECOMMENDATIONS
The Church Farm planning application in January 2018 exposed several flaws in the way planning matters are communicated to villagers, as well as some vulnerability in the degree to which Keevil’s VDS can protect the village from inappropriate development – though it also showed how the village can rally around an issue.
Most communities considering Local Plans of any kind are mostly concerned about development issues. As a small village, Keevil is not expected to take significant volumes of housing – in fact, no further developments are required to meet current Core Strategy according to the latest data issued by WC up to April 2017.
The aims of Neighbourhood Planning are primarily to decide where and what type of development should happen in a local area and to promote more development than is set out in the Core Strategy. This, together with the time, huge commitment and cost (albeit covered by Grant funding) of producing a Neighbourhood Plan should point us in the direction of updating/renewing the VDS.
In the interim we would like KPC to continue to visibly reference the extant VDS as a guide in their deliberations of planning decisions to support or not any forthcoming planning application.
Therefore we respectfully propose the Parish Council considers the following:
|1||The support of a period of Consultation with villagers that:
|2||The support of a new village Project group consisting of, though not necessarily limited to, those involved with this report, with clear Terms of Reference to:
|3||We have already written to the KPC Clerk to ask of WC Planning Office: “Can a new or updated Village Design Statement, made in line with the correct Core Policies, be adopted as a Supplementary Planning Document?”. We propose the question is also put formally before our elected representative Jonathan Seed, so that the response has to be a matter of public record;|
|4||We would like to see Planning as a standing item on all KPC Meeting agendas, and recommend the appointment of a Councillor to hold a ‘planning portfolio’.|
|5||We would like to see the Council’s Standing Orders made public, on the Transparency section of the village website and elsewhere, so it is clear to villagers the terms of reference by which KPC is run, and what they can expect;|
|6||If it does not have one, we propose KPC develop and publish a clear Communication Strategy and/or a Statement of Community Engagement, in consultation with villagers;|