A Neighbourhood Plan is a detailed planning document that focuses on the needs of residents. It is created by residents, adopted by a community through a referendum, has a legal status and must be referenced during the planning process.
It gives residents the chance to define the low level details about how an area should grow (ie the provision of pavements, play areas, footpaths, open space, etc) that are often missed by planners who do not necessarily have any local links with the area.
Aspley Guise Parish Council has created a group (of Parish Councillors and residents) to produce a plan, and recently held a public meeting at the village hall to start the conversation. I attended this meeting and spent four hours talking to residents, and was pleased to hear so many people contributing ideas on how to improve the village, to ensure this generation doesn’t leave problems for the next generation to sort out.
Whilst many concerns were predictable (traffic, sensible levels of growth, etc), residents came with proposals too, such as: extending pavements on Mount Pleasant, moving the Lower School road access to Bedford Road, residents parking in The Square, yellow lines outside of the hotel, decent pedestrian crossings at The Square & Bedford Road, a footbridge over the railway if the train frequency leaves it closed more often than it’s open, a flat foot/cycle path from north Aspley Guise to Woburn Sands and better managed green, public space north of the railway line.
Of course, some of these ideas are more likely (cheaper) to deliver than others, but if they are in the plan, the chance of future developers paying for them are vastly increased. And it’s easy to believe that no-one can make change happen, but I’ve learnt that the A421 (between junction 13 & Kingston roundabout) was built in response to a 1970s campaign driven by Aspley Guise residents (a few of whom still live here) to bypass their village.
I encourage anyone with enthusiasm & ideas to get involved, even if it’s an hour a month for just a few months, to ensure the plan is not merely driven by the Parish Councillors.