Current consultation and subsequent procedure
Following the previous public consultations, where local people were invited to comment on the emerging strategy and identify their preferences, a final draft Neighbourhood Plan was published for the six week ‘pre-submission’ consultation. Following final amendments, the Neighbourhood Plan and supporting documents were submitted to the Vale of White Horse District Council, the body responsible for presenting the documents for independent examination on 19th July 2014. Following a seven week public consultation, the Neighbourhood Plan was submitted to an Independent Examiner for examination.
The Independent Examiner’s report was received on 22nd October 2014 in which various recommendations were made: one of these was to delete the section of Green Space Designation due to the lack of sufficient evidence. All of the other recommendations were accepted, but there was strong local feeling that rather than going to referendum in February 2015 as planned, the Neighbourhood Plan should be re-submitted with the appropriate evidence supporting the Green Space Designation. This course of action was resolved at the Faringdon Town Council meeting of 10th December 2014.
A revised Neighbourhood Plan was then prepared including the Independent Examiner’s recommendations, but with an amended section, evidence and policy on the designation of the eleven Green Spaces agreed for inclusion. This revised Neighbourhood Plan and associated documentation then has to be submitted for a second six week pre-consultation in Faringdon, followed by a second six week formal public consultation by the Vale of White Horse District Council who will submit the documents to the Independent Examiner. He will assess the revised information, recommend any modifications to the Neighbourhood Plan and indicate whether a public hearing is necessary. The Independent Examiner’s report will then be sent to the District Council to decide whether it agrees with his recommendations and whether the plan should proceed to referendum. The District Council will publish the report and decision statement which will then be followed a period during which legal challenges can be made to the Neighbourhood Plan.
Finally, the Democratic Services Team of the District Council will organise a referendum for the electorate of Great Faringdon in which the following question will be put: “Do you want the Local Planning Authority to use the Neighbourhood Plan to help decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area?” If 50% or more of those voting, vote in favour, then the plan can move forward to be ‘made’ by the District Council providing it does not contravene any Human Rights Conventions.
The Faringdon Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group has been much saddened to hear of the sudden death of Cllr Alan Hickmore. Alan was a moving force behind the decision to start the process and his commitment and energy ensured that much progress was made in the year that he was Chairman. The Steering Group has agreed that the Neighbourhood Plan, when adopted and published, should be dedicated to his memory.