Will the Formby Neighbourhood Plan Pass its Final Inspection?

Finally, after six years in preparation, Formby and Little Altcar Parish Councils have submitted the Formby Neighbourhood Plan to Sefton Council.

Neighbourhood Plan Title Page

Six years is a very long time but presumably, the plan is the very best the two Parish Councils can produce?

So it's disappointing to note that the Sefton Council reception seems to raise some doubts. I've highlighted them in bold.

The Sefton document starts by setting out the Parish Councils'  purposes. Almost immediately they add some notes of concern. You can read them in the following extract. 

3.1 The Formby Neighbourhood Plan sets out a shared vision for Formby and Little Altcar Parishes. The whole of both Parishes were designated as a neighbourhood area’ for the purposes of preparing a neighbourhood plan and approved by Cabinet Member on 12th September 2013. The plan contains policies on the following areas

 General Policies
 Housing
 Working and shopping
 Getting around
 Community, leisure and wellbeing
 Environment, sustainability and design
 Flooding

3.2 Consultation on the draft plan (known as Regulation 14 Consultation) was undertaken by the Parish Council between 31st October 2016 and 12th December 2016. The Parish Council took account of comments received during this period in the submitted plan.

3.3 There are some concerns about some of the submitted documents and whether they fulfil some of the basic conditions. 

In particular:


 The Neighbourhood Plan needs have regard to the National Planning Policy Framework and the Local Plan. The Neighbourhood Plan and the Basic Conditions Statement repeatedly refer to the 2012 NPPF that has since been superseded.

The Neighbourhood Plan includes some policies that are contrary to strategic policies in the Local Plan, this includes a radical change to the affordable housing policy.

 The consultation framework is required to show people’s comments from the reg.14 consultation, what they said and how they have been considered. Whilst all comments are either summarised or included verbatim, it has not been shown how resident’s comments or the comments of other bodies have been considered, the statement simply says what they said.

3.4 The Neighbourhood Plan steering group did not accept the offer of advice from Sefton Council before submitting the plan.

3.5 It is up to the Examiner to decide whether the policies and content of the plan meet the basic conditions. The Council will make comments at the reg.16 stage.

(Source: Sefton Council: Report from Chief Officer Planning to Cabinet Officer Building and Planning Control for decision)

In my view, the most significant comment is item 3.4. It raises a number of questions.

  • Did both Parish Councils agree to 'disagree' with the Sefton Council advice?
  • Why did the Parish Councils reject the advice from the highly experienced Council officers?
  • Is there a conflict of views on some or all of the issues involved between Sefton Council and the two Parishes?
    • What are those?
    • Is this difference of views related to legal interpretations over the relative powers of Parish Councils and District Councils?
    • Has it to do with the Green Belt redesignation and the new housing developments, which have received official inspectors approval, thus confirming the status of the Local Plan?

Then there's the matter of the 2012 NPPF policy (National Planning Policy Framework)? Why have the Parish Councils not acted, after all, there's a seven-year gap between that change and now?

It is a remarkable passage of time, why have the Parish Councils not make the necessary adaptations?

Finally, on the question of the representation and response to the public views generated during the consultations is likely to compromise the whole plan. It is supposed to be a shared, collective and agreed public policy - not simply the Parish Councils policy.

Sefton Council closes in 3.5, with two observations:

  • A comment about the function of the Official Inspector, It's difficult not to draw the conclusion that the plan could be failed at this stage.
  • Sefton Council has also highlighted they will make comments at the 'Reg 16' stage of the process, could there more potential issues for the viability of the Plan? 

If you want to read more about the Neighbourhood Plan process I advise you to visit the Formby Parish Council website. There's a dedicated section with access to the various reports but following the plan through the Formby Parish Council minutes of meetings is more difficult. At one stage I noticed a reference to the near completion of the plan sometime in 2017, apparently, it just required some relatively small updates.

It seems to have taken over two years to make those additions and of course, the late submission date means that the current membership of both Councils is due for re-election, retirement or replacement, in the May elections. 

It begs the questions, why so long, what of the notion of electoral accountability, what has it all cost, what happens it the whole plan fails, who will be to blame?

To read the full report on the Sefton Council website follow the link: http://modgov.sefton.gov.uk/moderngov/mgIssueHistoryHome.aspx?IId=56436&Opt=0

 

 


Freshfield Level Crossing MP Questions Government Minister

Bill Esterson MP has questioned the Minister for Transport about steps taken to improve the safety of the level crossing at Fishermans Path.

Here is the question and the answer as posted on the They Work For You website (Source: https://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2018-10-10.177677.h&s=speaker%3A24905#g177677.q0)

Freshfield level crossing safety question
MP:

"What assessment he has made of the need for safety improvements at the Fisherman's Path rail crossing in Formby?"

Minister:

"Level Crossing safety is a matter for Network Rail, as the primary duty-holder for Britain’s railway infrastructure.

Network Rail have assessed Fisherman’s Path rail crossing in Formby and have implemented a number of safety improvements in the last year, including......."

 


National Trust Seeks Feedback on Proposals for Future Care of The Formby Coast

The National Trust at Formby is asking the community to help further develop ideas for the care of the Formby coast, now and in the future.

Local people are warmly invited to come along to a series of drop-in events to be held throughout September. They will be able to review the feedback received during previous consultation events and contribute to the resulting proposals that are being developed.

NTFormbyConsultation
Source: NT Formby


Consultation events in 2017 focused on collecting views and suggestions for how the Trust can best care for this unique and rapidly changing stretch of coast, for the benefit of the people who love it and the wildlife that makes its home here.

Topics discussed included

  • How to balance the need for parking with conservation of the sensitive landscape at Formby,
  • How to manage traffic on busy days
  • And the big decisions posed by the encroachment of sand onto the Victoria Road car park.
  • Discussions also focused on how to create and link habitats for the benefit of rare wildlife including Natterjack Toads and Red Squirrels
  • And how to improve visitor facilities, which can sometimes struggle to meet demand.

Andrew Brockbank, Countryside Manager for the National Trust at Formby, commented:

“We want to work with our local community to find the best ways to adapt to changing demands on this stretch of coast. The sand dune shoreline is constantly shifting here at Formby and the popularity of the coast brings pressures to both the fragile habitats and facilities.

We want to make better provision for our visitors to have a wonderful time here while showing sensitivity to local needs and demonstrating good conservation.  We received a fantastic response to our consultation events held throughout 2017 with many ideas being shared about how to care for this special coastline.

We now need to work more closely together to balance these multiple demands on the coast.”

Fiona Matthews, the Trust’s Community Involvement Officer at Formby, added:

“These September drop-in events are aimed at ‘sense-checking’ the feedback we have received so far and sharing our emerging ideas. The next step after these events will be to develop these basic principles and ideas into detailed proposals, working alongside the community.”

Local people can drop into any of the events to talk to staff, pick up a copy of our proposal booklet and contribute their views.

Formby Library   

Saturday 1st September 10-00-14.00
  Saturday 8th September 10.00-14.00
Formby Pool Café 

Tuesday 11th September 9.00-13.00
  Saturday 15th September 9.00-13.00
Formby Market, Chapel Street  

Friday 7th September 9.00-16.00

                                

Additional events will also be added over the coming weeks and will be publicised locally and through the National Trust social media feeds. More information about the consultation events to date and the emerging ideas for Formby Point can be found at:

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/formby/projects/get-involved---the-future-of-formby-point

Comments can also be shared by contacting the National Trust at Formby by email talkingformby@nationaltrust.org.uk

 


The search is on for Formby's most Instagrammable bike rides

Bike hire scheme Bike & Go is challenging Formby residents to help them find the most Instagrammable bike ride in the region as part of a project to uncover the UK’s most social media-worthy cycle routes.

#Intasgrammablecycleroutesa
The #Instacycleroutes guide will celebrate the bike rides with the best photo opportunities in England and Scotland – the two countries in which Bike & Go operates – to help social media stars find new selfie locations while also showcasing nearby cycle routes.

The bike rides could take place anywhere across the region, as long as they feature at least one Insta-worthy hotspot.

The suggestions will then be compiled into an online guide which will be made available on the Bike & Go website.

To suggest a bike ride, users need to tweet @UKBikeandGo or upload to Bike & Go’s Facebook page using the hashtag #Instacycleroutes, or email suggestions to info@bikeandgo.co.uk. All suitable entries will be compiled into the online guide.

The latest Bike & Go project follows hot on the heels of the Quirky Bike Ride Guide, which was published earlier this year to mark the wide range of unusual bike rides on offer across the UK.

Suzanne Grant, Bike & Go Commercial Director, said:

“We know from the interaction we’ve had with our users that many love to photograph their bike rides and share them on social media.

“We also know that social media users are always looking for ways to create new content, and believe that showing people some of the amazing sights you can see while out cycling could encourage even more people to take to two wheels.

“We’re appealing to everyone who knows of bike rides with some great photo opportunities to share them with us so that even more people can enjoy the best cycle routes the region has to offer and post their experiences online.”

Bike & Go offers bike hire facilities from 22 participating train stations across the Merseyrail network, including Liverpool Central, Moorfields, Aigburth, Ormskirk, New Brighton and West Kirby, in addition to a further 49 participating train stations across much of the North West, North East and Yorkshire, East and South East of England, and Scotland. There are also a bike hire facilities at Seacombe Ferry Terminal and Leasowe Castle.

To hire a Bike & Go bike, users simply need to register their card details online, which they can do via smartphones, tablets, or at home, and pay the annual £10 subscription fee. They will then receive a user number via email which will allow immediate bike hire at just £3.80 per 24 hours whilst they wait for their Bike & Go membership card. Bikes can then be returned to any participating train station.