The Plan Area
The plan will cover the town of Morpeth and the parishes of Pegswood, Mitford, Hebron and Hepscott.
Preparing the Plan
Under the Localism Act, town and parish councils (rather than the local planning authority) now have a discretionary power to prepare their own plan which, if adopted, becomes part of the statutory development plan. Although intended to be a light process there are Neighbourhood Planning Regulations to guide the plan making process. Neighbourhood plans also have to be in general conformity with national planning policy set out in the new National Planning Policy Framework and existing strategic policy.
The Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan process started in April 2012. The first step was to identify the Plan area which covers the civil parishes of Morpeth, Pegswood, Hebron, Hepscott and Mitford. A Steering Group including representatives from Morpeth Town Council (the qualifying body) and the four parish councils was created.
The Neighbourhood Planning Steering Group established a series of topic groups to help prepare the plan. These groups gathered evidence and consulted with appropriate bodies within their respective areas of interest. An Issues and Options consultation was carried out in October 2013 on the issues facing the Plan area and options for addressing them.
On the basis of these consultations and feedback, the Plan Vision and Objectives were identified. Policies, allocations, designations and community actions to fulfil the Plan objectives were drafted and brought together into a draft plan. Informal consultations with Statutory consultees, Northumberland County Council, interested developers and landowners also contributed to this process.
Feedback and detailed comments from this second consultation has led to clarifying and strengthening policies to better deliver the Plan objectives and intent. On 2nd June 2015, the draft Submission Plan was submitted to the local planning authority, along with the Proposals Map, A Basic Conditions Report which demonstrates how the Plan aligns with national and local planning policy, together with a consultation statement that summarises the consultation process and its outcomes.
The local planning authority (Northumberland County Council), who have a duty to support the neighbourhood planning process, will organise and fund the final stages in the plan making process. The local planning authority will appoint an independant examiner to examine and scrutinise the plan to ensure it meets the necessary standard and is in general conformity with national and strategic planning policy. If the plan is found to be satisfactory, the local authority will arrange for a referendum to take place and if there is majority support for the plan, the County Council will formally adopt it as part of the statutory development plan.
The Department of Communities and Local Government has issued some basic advice about Neighbourhood Planning. This is a good starting point to catch up with what Neighbourhood Planning is all about. You can view this document here.
What should the Neighbourhood Plan cover?
It is up to the community to decide on the content of the Plan based on their priorities for the neighbourhood. There are however some limitations to neighbourhood plans:
- They must not conflict with national government policy (e.g. Green Belts)
- They must be compatible with the County Council’s Local Plan. In Northumberland, the Core Strategy is being developed in parallel with our Neighbourhood Plan.
- They must promote sustainable growth and cannot be used to prevent development.
- They must be lawful, realistic and robust.
- They must – eventually – be agreed by a referendum of local people.
Why are we doing it?
- We are keen to give local communities and businesses more say in shaping the future of Morpeth town and the surrounding parishes of Pegswood, Hebron, Hepscott and Mitford.
- We want to engage with everyone in our community during the process of producing the plan.
- We want to create a plan that will determine development now and into the future.
- We want to set out clearly what development is appropriate for our community consistent with the County Council’s Local Plan and National Planning Policy.
- We want to make it clear to potential developers, through our neighbourhood plan, planning policy and guidance, what the community expects from development.
Morpeth Town Council was selected as a neighbourhood planning front runner by the Government to lead on the creation of a neighbourhood plan, supported by the local planning authority – Northumberland County Council. The adjoining communities of Pegswood , Mitford, Hebron and Hepscott were invited to be included in the plan as they have a strong functional relationship with Morpeth in terms of local services, education and employment.