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Everyone's Opinion Matters

by Haddenham Webteam – 17th January 2015
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Haddenham's Draft Neighbourhood Plan reaches the end of its public consultation period this weekend* and residents' comments and opinions have been invited and actively sought since the Draft Plan was published on 6th December 2014.

Input has been heard and noted from the youngest to the most senior members of Haddenham's community, as illustrated so impressively this week by public discussions held with pupils at each of the three village schools, as well as with a large group of members of the Haddenham Village Society – an age range extending from 5 to 80+ years! No one can accuse the NP Team of failing to seek everyone's views.

Steve Sharp, a member of the NP Team, visited the two infant schools as well as the junior school, to remind pupils of the importance of the NP and to highlight how their comments, voiced at previous school meetings held in 2014, had been captured and expressed in the Draft Plan.

On Thursday evening, 15th January, at a very well attended AGM of the Village Society held in the community library, Andy Fell (leader of the NP Team) hosted a lively discussion of the Draft Plan and fielded some challenging comments from the audience members.

Andy reminded the attendees of the scope of the NP which helps to define the look and feel of the village that current residents are hoping to see maintained over the next 20 years, as well as providing a statutory instrument to help limit the absolute numbers of new homes. He also explained the process by which potential development sites had been evaluated across the village, emphasising that the absolute numbers of new homes on each site would still be subject to AVDC planning permission on a site-by-site basis.

The key message, however, was to remind everyone that without an agreed NP in place, the village is vulnerable to extensive development – perhaps as many as 1,000+ new homes – due to the pressure that AVDC is under to provide many thousands of homes across the Vale. It is thus in every local resident's interest to help see the Haddenham NP through to completion and to approve it through the local referendum, despite individual misgivings they may have about specific development sites. If we fail to agree the Plan, developers are more more likely to achieve planning consent, the builders move in and we are all losers as the village approaches the scale of a town.

Andy addressed some of the major concerns that had been raised over the Draft Plan to date, and acknowledged the specific anxieties. Clearly, it was never going to be possible to create "the perfect plan" – one that eliminates all possible concerns.

Many significant contributions had been received from individuals in response to the Draft Plan. The meeting also heard a summary of the collective response from Haddenham Village Society (prepared and presented at the meeting by Richard Hirst). The HVS commentary can be viewed by clicking on the PDF located below the images on this page.

Passionate contributions were voiced from the floor, particularly from Stuart Monro who felt that the Plan made no significant mention of the needs of the most senior and vulnerable members of the Haddenham community. Others voiced serious anxieties over the pressures that new development will bring to bear on local schools and especially the struggling GP services. Even the capacity of the sewage system was mentioned as a potential issue.

Mr Fell emphasised that social and health care provisions were not part of the scope of a Neighbourhood Plan as such, but that local health care and social service needs would be examined by the appropriate public sector organisations in relation to planning approvals granted by local government.

The key message is a simple one: Haddenham will have to accept growth through the building of new homes – this pressure, from national and local government bodies, is non-negotiable. An agreed NP will help to limit this development to about 430 houses. Without such a statutory instrument in place, we could end up with 1,000+ homes.

* The official date for receiving local residents' comments on the Draft NP is Saturday 17th January. However, the NP Team will take into account any comments received up to and including Monday 19th January. You can do so here.

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