Last Sunday, the sun beamed down on Feniton on what must have been the most successful Fun Day in its history. Crowds gathered on the playing fields in the heart of the village to be entertained by Honiton gymnasts (a breath-taking display), Tale Valley choir, Otter Morris dancers, Honiton Twirlstars, Zorbing (now that looked fun!) and lots more besides.
There were plant stalls, cake stalls, face painting, glitter tattoos, coconut shy and a mass of bouncy castles and slides. In fact, all that you would expect to see at a village fete, but SO much more.
In the midst of all the merriment, the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group members set out their stall for the third year as the Plan reaches an exciting stage in its evolution.
The Neighbourhood Plan has been almost three years in the making, involving a large number of dedicated volunteers interested in the future of the village and how it will progress over the next 15 years.
At each stage, there has been extensive consultation with residents in the village, including a comprehensive questionnaire distributed to every household in the Neighbourhood Plan area asking for views on different village topics. The result of these consultation exercises is the draft Neighbourhood Plan which is now ready to be launched for wider consultation.
The Plan has drawn on the many comments expressed by residents which have been distilled into policies which will be considered in determining future development in the village. The Steering Group was fortunate to have had former Parish Councillor Trevor Ives among its members. Trevor has now retired and moved from the area, but brought with him a wealth of experience and knowledge of the housing industry. Trevor wrote the initial draft planning policies and his work was continued by Dr John Withrington, current Feniton Parish Councillor. John is the former Head of the International Office at the University of Exeter where he was responsible for (among other things) writing the University’s international policies and strategies. At all times during this process, the Steering Group has had the invaluable support of planning policy officers at East Devon District Council.
This weekend will see the launch of the snappily titled ‘Pre-submission Consultation draft Plan: Regulation 14 of the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012’. All the statutory consultees, landowners, local businesses and local organisations will receive an email or letter by post outlining where the draft Neighbourhood Plan can be viewed and how to submit their comments. At the same time, every household in the Plan area will receive a leaflet outlining where a hard copy can be accessed in the village and where to find the link to the Plan on the Parish Council website.
The consultation period will run from Saturday 8 July to Saturday 19 August, following which the Plan will be formally submitted to East Devon District Council for a further 6-week period of consultation.
So, after invading Chris Gibbins’ home for endless cups of tea during their lengthy meetings, I’m wondering whether the Steering Group members might now like to celebrate this watershed moment in the Neighbourhood Plan process with something just a little stronger …