clash over plans for new Burnham Neighbourhood Plan
councillors have clashed this week during a heated debate on whether
Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge a new £25,000 Neighbourhood
new policy would provide residents with the ability to decide
the future shape of the two towns, from choosing where new homes,
shops and offices are built, to having a say on what new buildings
should look like.
Town Council formed a working party earlier
this year to start work on the new policy document after securing
£20,000 of funding for the work - which includes £10,000
for a local referendum to ask residents whether the plan is wanted.
when Cllr Helen Groves presented a report on the benefits of the
scheme during Monday's meeting - and recommended that £25,000
be set aside over two years to compile and agree the plan - the
proposals received mixed reactions.
been against this from day one - Sedgemoor already has high-level
policies in place to determine planning decisions," said
Cllr Bill Hancock. "We will simply be following our own tails
and getting nothing back - it will be a disaster."
Neville Jones added: "To be a success, a Neighbourhood Plan
needs high engagement and widespread support and I don't see this
costs in setting up the Plan could run to £100,000 or even
£200,000 - the figures are so vague at the moment and the
benefits seem to be aimed at Highbridge rather than all of our
Ken Smout added: "A lot of work has been done by the working
party and I am certainly not against a Neighbourhood Plan, but
there are a lot of issues to be considered here. The money is
available to do it, but there are lots of other things that are
needed in our towns and I am not convinced this is the best way
Peter Burridge-Clayton added: "We would need to be sure about
what level of control would be delivered by the Plan. I am not
convinced that we'd be able to make a real difference."
Chris Williams said: "The plan has to cover the whole of
the parish and must be there for all residents."
Groves said she has already spoken to over 400 residents and gained
plenty of positive feedback on the proposals. "The question
of whether residents want the Plan would go to a referendum and
it would need at least 50 per cent support to proceed."
Burridge-Clayton proposed that the Town Council seek clarification
from Sedgemoor District Council on whether 'Supplementary Planning
Documents' can deliver some or all of the benefits in the proposed
accepted the proposal and decided to defer a decision on whether
to proceed with the Plan until after Sedgemoor's response.
vitally important that we get this right and find the right route
forward, especially when spending taxpayers' money," added
Town Council Lib Dem leader Cllr Phil Harvey told Burnham-On-Sea.com
after the meeting: "It is surprising that, months after receiving
a £20k grant as a pathfinder Council for Neighbourhood Planning,
and weeks after receiving a report from a steering group advocating
it, Conservative and Independent town councillors should unite
in delaying the process."
this is to seek clarification from Sedgemoor District Council
about Supplementary Planning Documents - despite these being explained
in our report. I fear that it may be a device to delay the decision
to the budget meeting where they can argue that the Town Council
can't afford it."
fact we have £90,000 in a reserved budget for 'working with
other authorities' and the best estimate of costs is £25k.
Surely enabling local people to determine the future development
of our towns - within the constraints of the Planning Core strategy
and Sedgemoor's guidelines - is worth that? I urge local residents
to let us know what they think."
Groves added: "I am deeply disappointed by this decision
and the lack of understanding demonstrated by the debate that
surrounded this. A Neighbourhood Plan is a powerful legislative
tool which could empower our communities - rather than councillors
for the next decade - and I believe would be to the benefit of