Neighbourhood Plan Feedback
The Localism Act December 2011 provides local communities with the power to produce neighbourhood plans, which give communities more control over the planning of their area. Coxheath Parish Council has decided to take up this power and to prepare a Neighbourhood Plan for the Parish of Coxheath. The purpose of our Neighbourhood Plan will be to ensure that the community has a major say in planning decisions and the future amenities of Coxheath. We have done this for a number of reasons:-
- Government's new national planning policies give a presumption in favour of sustainable development, making it easier for developers to get planning permission
- MBC have failed to update its Local Plan and can not demonstrate a 5+year supply of land for housebuilding, which puts them in a weak position to refuse permissions
- MBC have recently increased their housebuilding target for the Borough by nearly 50%
- MBC are seriously looking at housing and employment sites aound the Borough, including six in Coxheath, to meet its targets
- There are significant local concerns about health services, affordable housing, traffic calming etc.
Following the consultation in Autumn 2012 the Neighbourhood Plan area will be the whole of the parish of Coxheath. Since then three community engagement events have been held; two workshops in December 2012(local organisations and business) and January 2013(public and local business), followed by a public drop in session on 8/9 March 2013. In total about 900 separate responses were received.
In summary the response from the two workshops was:-
- Doubts over the need for further housing, including local needs housing, and the effect further development could have on the infrastructure of the village;
- The need for improved traffic management and parking;
- The ability of the surgeries to cope with increased demand;
- The importance of retaining a green belt around the village;
- General support of environmental issues such as the enhancement of the village centre and the creation of easy access recreational walking routes and safe cycle routes around the village.
Other comments and issues of concern included:-
- A clear desire to maintain the separate character and identity of the village;
- The need for an overhaul of the present medical facilities by a combination of expansion and re-planning;
- Possible registration of some green belt land as community assets;
- A general lack of enthusiasm for public recycling sites;
- Widespread support in principle for the development of safe cycle routes but doubts over locations and maintenance costs;
- Possibility of extending 20mph speed restriction zones;
- Preserve nature sites and encourage more to be created;
- Ensure footpaths are well maintained and adequately signposted;
- General agreement that open space should be protected and recreational/amenity space provided but more thought to be given to the actual facilities to be included;
- Mixed views over the case for local needs housing and some confusion between the definitions of ‘local needs housing’ and ‘social housing’;
- Mixed views on the provision of appropriate accommodation for the elderly;
- No building to be allowed above two storeys;
- The need to identify and secure additional parking areas close to the village centre, coupled with a need for more effective enforcement;
- The need for a youth club and recreational facilities for young people;
- A clearer definition of local employment opportunities. Many current employment opportunities are taken by outsiders;
In summary the response from the March 2013 'drop in' session was:-
Many respondents were concerned about the provision of more housing because they felt the present infrastructure was unable to support the Coxheath as it is now.
- The highest concern was the provision of health care services. The two surgeries cannot cope with the present demands made on them. Dental care provision also needs improving.
- The next major concern was traffic, parking and traffic calming. The traffic calming causes lengthy delays at peak times, which leads to dangerous and reckless driving, and rat-running through unsuitable roads to escape the build-outs. There are not enough parking spaces in the village centre and this leads to inconsiderate parking.
Other areas of concern expressed:
- Clear identification and maintenance of the green belt around the village to keep its separate identity, its rural village feel an