Localism Act – What it means for Walton

You may have heard about the Localism Act which was enacted by Parliament in November 2011.

One view is that this is a method of delegating the decision making on planning down to the lowest level, so that the people on the ground make decisions about what development goes on in their own neighbourhood. Another view is that the “presumption in favour of sustainable development” will be a green light for developers to build houses wherever they deem suitable.

The truth, of course, lies somewhere between the two.  A community’s key tool for dealing with the act is to develop a Neighbourhood Plan.  A Neighbourhood Plan can identify where housing development can take place and can even specify the type of housing from affordable housing to executive homes.  But a plan can be much more than this.  It enables communities to specify which areas and buildings need to be preserved and protected and consider issues such as the highways and transport infrastructure, the schools and the retail facilities as well as community assets such as village halls and churches. But the one key message is that “no new development” is not an option.

So Walton needs to develop its own Neighbourhood Plan to ensure that local people are in control of the future shape of our village. In order to complete this important task the Parish Council has established a Steering Group.

Whilst the Steering Group will lead on the production of a Neighbourhood Plan, it is important that it reflects the aspirations of the entire village and so it is vital that all community organisations, businesses and interested individuals have their say in what goes into it.  Indeed, before any plan can be adopted it must be approved by the residents in a local referendum.

The Council is looking for people and organisations to participate in this challenging opportunity, by joining the Steering Group, giving a few hours of their time to express their views and perhaps work on the detail of the Plan.

If you are interested in joining the Steering Group, or if you require any further information, please contact the Council Chairman, Randal Brown on 842475 or the Parish Clerk, Colin Pool on 844687 or any councillor