The Neighbourhood Plan Independent Examiner’s report has been received (see Neighbourhood Plan - Key Documents). It is really pleasing to have a highly qualified, independent Examiner compliment the Parish Council on its work. Phrases such as: “the consultation undertaken has been thorough and inclusive”; “It is clear to me that Ashington Parish Council is fully committed to ensuring that the principles of sustainability remain at the forefront in the consideration of policies for the village” are pleasing to read.
The Neighbourhood Plan does not simply identify where new homes are going, it does far more than that. It has a number of policies that all new development in the village, in the lifetime of the Plan (to 2031), must adhere to:
- the spatial strategy ensures development is delivered close to the community ‘heart’ (School, Church, Community Centre);
- must provide opportunities for residents to travel on foot/bike/horse;
- emphasises the need for off-street parking to keep new roads and pavements clear & to improve pedestrian safety;
- protects heritage assets;
- improves access to the countryside;
- provides for good landscaping and countryside protection;
- supports flood alleviation schemes benefitting Mill Lane;
- provides some small scale employment spaces;
- safeguards land for expansion of the School (subject to necessity & further consultations);
- protects the Forest Schools land and the school allotment.
PLUS the Neighbourhood Plan details a range of new community facilities (and funding) to be delivered in and around the community ‘heart’:
Direct delivery of - full size grass football pitch, outdoor gym, public open space and allotments,
Financial contributions and community land for - sports pavilion and 4G pitch, play areas, upgrade to multisports court surfacing, improved drainage for existing football pitches, new community building (possibly youth/office space)
The next stage is a Parish Referendum (probably on 6th May 2021) when all residents get to vote on whether to accept the Neighbourhood Plan or not.
The Neighbourhood Plan was prepared by Ashington residents and if successful at Referendum it will set a sustainable development blueprint for the future of Ashington.