Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan

The production of Neighbourhood Plans is enabled through the Localism Act 2011.

The Government encouraged the development of a number of neighbourhood plans ahead of the enactment of legislation through the Neighbourhood Planning Vanguard Scheme and Swale Borough Council was awarded £20k to assist with the development of the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan. Neighbourhood plans give communities direct power to plan the areas in which they live but they relate only to the use and development of land in their area. Parishes can use neighbourhood plans to:

  • develop a shared vision for their neighbourhood
  • set planning policies for the development and use of land; and
  • give planning permission through Neighbourhood Development Orders. These can grant planning permission for specified developments in a neighbourhood area, for example, certain types of household extensions, shop fronts, 'green energy' proposals. Where there is a neighbourhood development order in place there would be no need to apply to the Council for planning permission for the development it covers.

A neighbourhood plan must be assessed by an independent examiner before it is put to the test through a local referendum. To pass the independent examination, the neighbourhood plan must:

  • have regard to the policies in the emerging National Planning Framework
  • be in general conformity with the strategic policies in the Local Development Framework; and
  • be compatible with relevant EU obligations and human rights requirements.

In addition, the plan should be 'sound'. To be 'sound' a plan should be justified, effective and consistent with national policy.

Justified means that the document must be:

  • founded on a robust and credible evidence base
  • the most appropriate strategy when considered against the reasonable alternatives

Effective means that the document must be:

  • deliverable
  • flexible
  • able to be monitored

Outside these strategic elements, neighbourhood plans will be able to shape and direct development in their area, subject to the presumption in favour of sustainable development. When a neighbourhood plan is made, the policies it contains take precedence over existing policies in the Local Plan for that neighbourhood.

This is a community-owned planning process and following enactment it will be for members of the local community to decide in a referendum if a neighbourhood development plan can come into force. More than 50% of those who vote will need to support the making of the Plan.

What has happened so far?

The Swale Borough Local Plan 2008 identifies a requirement for an Area Action Plan for Faversham Creek.

Consultants Urban Initiatives were appointed to provide support for consultation activities and a number of events were held culminating in a workshop which drew conclusions in relation to

  • the Vision
  • the supporting Themes
  • initial thoughts on objectives for each of the Themes and a list of priorities.

A final Stakeholder and Consultation Report was published setting out the workshop outputs including a series of 'Opportunities Plans' for 2026 and beyond. Comments were invited by the Borough Council.

In June 2010 consultants Tony Fullwood Associates were appointed to take the work forward to:

  • Undertake feasibility and viability work building on the earlier Urban Initiatives Report;
  • Advise on development options for the Creek Area; and
  • To provide advice on the most appropriate planning route to achieve the regeneration objectives for the Creek Area

His report Developing proposals and future planning policy to deliver regeneration of the Faversham creek area was published in November 2010 and comments on its contents have been received by the Council.

The Borough Council is keen to progress the plan for Faversham Creek and the opportunities given by neighbourhood planning allow the completion of plans for this area driven by local involvement.

As required by the Bill, the Borough Council as local planning authority has committed to providing technical advice and support and assisting the community in producing the plan and has appointed Tony Fullwood of Tony Fullwood Associates to undertake this role.

Plan Period

The emerging 'parent' document to the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan is the Swale Borough Core Strategy which looks ahead to 2026 and consistency would be achieved if the Neighbourhood Plan covered the same period. From the point of adoption of the Neighbourhood Plan in 2013, this would give a 13 year life for the Plan. In terms of local actions, this would seem appropriate. There is also the opportunity to review the plan before 2026 should this be considered necessary in the future.

The steps will include:

  • undertaking any outstanding research;
  • discussing feedback to the Tony Fullwood Associates report and a way forward;
  • agreeing the type of plan(s), the plan area, plan period, the vision and objectives for the area;
  • developing proposals for individual sites and buildings;
  • liaising with key stakeholders;
  • conducting a Sustainability Appraisal and Appropriate Assessment of the plan;
  • drafting and preparing the final plan;
  • formal Public Consultation;
  • preparing for and attending an independent examination of the plan;
  • holding a referendum on the plan and
  • formally bringing the plan into force.

Some of these stages are governed by statute and will be beyond local control.

Please see the separate document for the timetable for this process.