The exhibition two weeks ago was very well attended, with around 300 people turning out to see what the Neighbourhood Plan is all about. There are many concerns about the level of development that Taunton Deane’s Core Strategy envisages for Bishops Lydeard. We can use the Neighbourhood Plan to try and take control.
Having revisited the Core Strategy and examined recent developments in the Borough, it appears to me that there the figure of 200 homes put forward by Taunton Deane for Bishops Lydeard is not set in stone. The Core Strategy sets out a target of at least 1,500 homes to be built in the rural areas of the Borough. In fact, 1,600 homes have already been permitted meaning the target has already been met. However, the one type of housing that may be required is ‘local needs’ housing. As of January 2013, there were 28 families or individuals identified by the local authority as having a pressing need for accommodation in Bishops Lydeard. There are no funds from local authorities or Government to build these houses so if the village wished to see them provided, it would have to be as the ‘affordable’ element of a larger development. The Core Strategy suggests that the Borough will be expected to make provision for local needs housing so it may be difficult to resist all development. The Core Strategy also sets out a target for providing local needs housing – 25% on schemes of 5 houses or more. On this basis, in order to provide the 28 homes, it would be necessary to host a development of 112 houses. It is important to point out that no decisions have been made here and I am merely setting out the issues that we will need to discuss. Ultimately, whatever we agree to include in the Neighbourhood Plan must be in compliance with the National Planning Policy Framework and the Taunton Deane Core Strategy. Neighbourhood Plans must be defensible. There will be much to discuss in the coming months and the Neighbourhood Planning Committee will now be meeting regularly in public, at 4.30pm on the third Thursday of each month, at the Village Hall. Please feel free to come along and contribute.