Until 15 November you can still have your say on the future of Leckhampton by visiting www.haveyoursay.cheltenham.gov.uk (or by using this QR code) and taking part in the Parish Council’s Neighbourhood Plan survey. And every submitted response enters you in a draw to win £100!
Parish Councils are the butt of many jokes (thank you Vicar of Dibley and Jackie Weaver!) but their Neighbourhood Plan is surprisingly important. It sets out our community’s approach to protecting local green spaces, where we want development to go and how we want it to look and which local facilities we value. Neighbourhood Plans were introduced in the Localism Act passed when the Lib Dems were in government and they really count in planning permission decisions alongside the National Planning Policy Framework, the Cheltenham Plan and (in the the case of our three councils Gloucester, Tewkesbury and Cheltenham) as Joint Core Strategy (JCS) that allocates land for major housing developments.
For historic reasons, it doesn’t yet cover all of Leckhampton but you can still have your say if you’re in the area.
In the case of the Leckhampton Fields, we managed to get them taken out of that JCS to stop pretty much all of them being built on and then got 26 hectares protected in the Lib Dem borough council’s Cheltenham Plan last year alongside 350 new homes – many of them affordable – and the new secondary school which is now going up on Kidnappers Lane. The parish council’s Neighbourhood Plan strongly supports the permanent protection of these treasured green spaces. But it also lists the community facilities like local shops and play areas that we value most and includes policies on our heritage assets and even how we want to protect the area against flooding.
The parish council and its Neighbourhood Plan working group (which I co-chair with Councillor Graham Beale) has already organised thousands of leaflet drops and two drop-in events and we’ve had hundreds of responses but we still want more. And please don’t use the unofficial survey issued in the name of ‘Leglag’. If you want a paper copy, call the parish clerk on 07739 719079 and she will make sure you get the proper one.
And there’s a bonus too. If we get all the way to a final referendum on the plan, probably in the first half of next year, and if the plan is approved, the parish council will get even more to spend on local facilities through the Community Infrastructure Levy which comes from the developers building all that housing. So new projects like the fundraising appeal just launched for a revamped Scout Hut on Leckhampton Road would be great candidates for some of that money.
So get online now and complete the survey! The whole plan is 160 pages long and the survey has links to key policies which are themselves quite long in places but please keep going even if you have to skim through it a bit. Remember you could win £100 and help the local community along the way!