Thursday, 10 August 2017

Community assets and neighbourhood planning

There are issues around how 'community assets' are defined - whether in general terms or with regard to formal listing as such:
Futures Forum: Community Assets

These are gradually being taken on and taken seriously by local government - but through the mechanism of neighbourhood plans.

Here is a trawl through some such NPs:

Pirton, Herts:
An unverified wish-list:

As part of the Localism Act (2011) a community now have the right to list assets of community value.
This affords some protection to these assets and ultimately gives a community the opportunity to acquire them to preserve their use and value to the community.  Listing the asset does not mean that the community has to buy this asset, but ensures that they have the right to be consulted before it is sold or lost and delays that sale, if the community has a serious interest in acquiring it.

Certain types of property are excluded from being listed, such as purely residential property, land licensed for use as a residential caravan site and the operational property of statutory undertakers (such as key road, canal and rail networks). Although the Act notes that "social interests" includes "cultural, recreational and sporting interests" the phrase "social well-being", also used, can apply to a much broader set of activities.

An initial list of assets suggested for consideration is given below, but some listed, and perhaps others, may already have better protection that can be given by their listing as a community asset, e.g. schools, playing fields, churches, common land, ancient monuments etc.  However for the moment all those suggested to date have been included

St James, Exeter:
A mixture of: designated assets, those identified by the community – plus some determined by the NP steering group as such – and others which will need further consultation:

Hoopern Valley: This is by far the largest open space in the ward and is a valuable asset not just for St James but for the City as a whole. The site is designated as a County Wildlife Site and one of the city’s valley parks
EN2: Hoopern Valley: Development which would detract from the landscape or ecological value of the Hoopern Valley Park will not normally be permitted. Proposals that would enhance the accessibility, understanding or enjoyment of the biodiversity assets of the park may be considered provided its distinctive character, biodiversity and recreational value is retained and there would be no harm to its special qualities including its wildlife habitats, corridors and any other features of ecological interest including those related to protected species.

Queens Crescent Garden: The community has identified Queens Crescent garden as an important asset and recognises an opportunity for the creation of a new community space.

The railway corridor is an important biodiversity asset within St James and the city in general.

There is a small system of allotments on the north side of St James Park station which again contribute to the biodiversity of the area and provide an important community facility.

The Cricket Club is a valued community asset and green space. However investment is required to ensure the long term viability of the Club and the preservation of the open space and character of the site. The community recognises that there may be some development potential in a small part of the Cricket Club site provided that it secures the longer term future of the green space. However the site is a sensitive location with heritage importance and requires the highest standards of layout and design. As such any proposals for development should involve consultation with the local community.

Howell Road Car Park: This is an important asset for businesses and retailers in St James. A key objective of the Plan is to ensure adequate parking is provided for these facilities. However it could also provide a good location for affordable housing which meets the needs of local people. When ECC and DCC implement proposals to encourage the use of the train and park and ride the car park may become surplus to requirements and become subject to development pressure. In principle, some appropriate development may be supported, provided that the site’s value to local businesses is retained.

Poynton, Cheshire:
No reference to Community Assets; but to Local List of Heritage Assets:

Cranleigh, Surrey:
NP steering group determine ‘assets’:

The two main public car parks at Stocklund Square and Village Way are a great asset to the village but can be close to capacity at peak times. The threat to this asset needs to be addressed before chronic parking problems occur.

The River Wey, the Wey and Arun Canal, public footpaths and bridleways as well as the Downs Link all run through the parish. These assets and the rural countryside have various societies and Trusts in place to protect them, along with planning criteria already in place.

Woodcote, Oxon:
A mixture of: some general assets determined by the NP steering group; those with strong community support; Assets of Community Value; local council to seek designation of assets

Table 3.vi Community Goal Aims/Objectives
To maintain the character and vitality of the village
• To integrate new housing into Woodcote such that today’s rural look and feel is maintained. • To provide homes for younger people and young families and so counter the growing demographic imbalance. • To preserve important village assets.

6.1 Community and Recreational Facilities 
There is strong community support for the safeguarding of important village assets.

Policy C1: Assets of Community Value
Proposals that will result in either the loss of an Asset of Community Value or in significant harm to an Asset of Community Value will be strongly resisted.

The Parish Council will seek the designation of the Community Centre and Library buildings on Reading Road, as Assets of Community Value.

The rural surroundings are an important leisure asset and Woodcote’s position within the Chilterns AONB provides many opportunities for walking, cycling, horse riding and other outdoor pursuits.

Ascot, Berks:
No reference to Community Assets; but to Local List of Heritage Assets:

But reference to ‘Strategic Sites’:

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