>> Neighbourhood Plan
Chetnole and Stockwood Parish Council have agreed to put the preparaton of a Neighbourhood Plan on hold for the forseeable future since the original Steering Group decided not to continue - for the reasons outlined in the document below. Should any person or group of persons within the combined parish wish to reform a Steering Group and take on the task of producing a plan, then the Council would support them.
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To: Chetnole and Stockwood Parish Council
From: Chetnole and Stockwood Neighbourhood Development Plan Steering
Date: Nov 6, 2017
SUBJECT: Report on Neighbourhood Plan & Recommendations
In the Oct 18, 2017 meeting of the Chetnole and Stockwood Neighbourhood
Development Plan Steering Committee it was decided that a recommendation to
cease work on the Neighbourhood Plan should be made to the Parish Council.
Reasons and background for this recommendation are given below.
For various reasons, a number of members of the committee who are not also
members of the Parish Council either resigned or said they would resign if it was
decided to continue with the Neighbourhood Plan. All agreed to stay on and help
with the wind-up of the committee if the final decision is to no longer continue.
The members who resigned or said they would resign were:
Tim Kidd (on basis that the the Working Party was just about diverse enough to be
able to take matters forward. The small remaining group of 2 or 3 wouldn't be.)
The remaining two members, Imogen Davenport and John Stobart said from the
start that they didn’t feel the village necessarily needed a Neighbourhood plan, but if
there is to be one they would be happy to help with it. Neither wanted to push it
forward at the meeting if others did not want to, but equally if it were decided to
continue they desired to stay involved and help out.
In 2012 when Mr Bob Owen was Chairman of the Parish Council he wrote to Parish
Council Chairmen of the surrounding villages suggesting they should get together to
form a neighbourhood development plan, as it was a huge commitment for one
community. He had a disappointing response and the idea eventually was
In Oct 2015 the current West Dorset, Weymouth and Portland Local Plan was
formerly adopted. The Local Plan sets out logical development in the area by
directing development towards larger more viable villages in order to achieve a
sustainable pattern of development (ie concentrate most development in locations
where homes, jobs and facilities will be easily accessible to each other and there is a
choice of transport mode and also to reduce the impacts of climate change by
reducing need and use of automobiles). Chetnole is currently not viewed as one of
these larger villages. The Local plan does allow certain developments under certain
conditions in more rural areas like Chetnole and Stockwood such as reuse of
buildings, building of new houses for farm workers and new affordable housing.
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In January 2016 Mr Richard Smith of Leigh Parish Council gave a brief talk to the
Parish Council on the proposal for Leigh and Yetminster to join forces to produce
joint Neighbourhood Plans. It is their intention that each community should produce
an individual plan, and those plans should be put together in partnership so that the
villages will ultimately produce complimentary plans tailored to improve the area as a
whole. He suggested that Chetnole would be welcomed to join in this venture.
The Chetnole PC ultimately agreed it would prefer to go it alone and do its own plan.
Mr Gordon Ratcliffe was the key leading man on this and took on the role of
organising the initial meetings. Two “drop-in” information sessions were held in the
village hall in June 2016. A Neighbourhood Plan feedback form was delivered to
every property in the parish. A total of 53 forms were returned, with 50 in favour of
preparing a Plan. A spreadsheet with the results was prepared (ie total Chetnole &
Stockwood population per the 2011 census has a population 360 with 300 persons
16 and older and has a total of 163 properties per 2015 Council Tax Records).
On Nov 30, 2016 Mr Gordon Ratcliffe organized and lead a Chetnole & Stockwood
Neighbourhood Plan Inaugural Meeting for interested parties. Much was discussed
at this meeting and there were a number of people who questioned whether, due to
its size and lack of infrastructure, a village like Chetnole would benefit from a plan.
Mr Gordon Ratcliffe suggested that the Railway Halt could form the focus of the Plan
but this turned out not to be possible as transportation issues should only be
addressed in Neighbourhood Development Plans with regards to how they affect or
are affected by proposed development. The final approval to go ahead with the
Neighbourhood Development Plan was however not given until the January 2017
meeting of the Parish Council.
In early 2017 a steering committee consisting of the following was ultimately formed:
Gordon Ratcliffe chairman - withdrew from the committee in June 2017 for health
Ned Kozowyk - elected chairman following Gordon Ratcliffe's retirement
David Russell - volunteered to be secretary but did not want to be a committee
Sue Woodford - joined the committee as a result of being the Parish Clerk
Owen Pope - joined the committee as a result of being the Chair of the Chetnole
and Stockwood Parish Council
Ian Wood - joined mainly to act as a liaison between the Steering group and the Halt
group, but as the Halt was not to become an integral part of the Neighbourhood
Development Plan he only attended a few meetings at the beginning.
Meetings of the steering committee were held on a monthly basis beginning in
January 2017 and during the subsequent meetings a consultant, Jo Witherden, was
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hired to help with the planning process. The history of past development in the area
was researched and published, and a character map of the area was started.
An information exhibition with maps and information on the Local Plan, plan area,
existing conservation areas etc. was prepared and presented at the Chetnole Fete
and Flower Show in early August, 2017. Most people who attended tended to view
maps rather than the written information supplied on boards and in general many
thought the village was good 'as is' and the village character should remain
unchanged. The exhibit was for information purposes and therefore as all feedback
was informal it was not necessarily representative.
By the end of August when all the members of the steering committee started to
become reasonably familiar with the concept of Local and Neighbourhood Plans,
doubts about whether a Neighbourhood Plan for Chetnole and Stockwood was a
good or necessary idea become quite apparent to those who did not necessarily hold
this opinion at the start, due largely to a lack of knowledge. Some members of the
committee were knowledgeable about the Development Planning process and held
this basic position from the start but wanted to be involved if the there was to be a
In September 2017, work on a questionnaire began, but questions and doubts about
the need of a Village Plan increased and in Oct 2017 it was agreed by all that a
recommendation should be made to the Parish Council that work on a
Neighbourhood Plan cease for the reasons given in the following section. The
consultant's contract was mutually agreed to be terminated at that time.
REASONS FOR THE RECOMMENDATION TO NOT PROCEED WITH A
The Local Plan covers all that is needed for Chetnole and Stockwood and therefore
there is no need for a Neighbourhood Plan unless one wants some specific
development above that recommended in the Local Plan. As noted earlier, the Local
Plan does allow certain developments in areas such as Chetnole and Stockwood.
The WDDC has professional developers on staff and it was felt that overall they have
done a good job on guiding development in Chetnole and Stockwood in the past.
Their decisions on development should be more unbiased than that of local residents
as, in general, they should have no local vested interests.
A number of members of the committee were reluctant to get involved in deciding
where any possible developments should take place. Again, it was thought better to
leave those type of decisions to the WDDC, where hopefully such decisions would
be made on a professional unbiased basis.
A number of members were also concerned that in preparing a Neighbourhood Plan
we would simply be doing the groundwork for developers. The Holwell Appeal
Decision of Jan 2017 is a clear example of what can happen in a village when some
potential development sites are identified, even during the formation stages of a
Neighbourhood Plan. (See Appeal Ref: APP/F1230/W/16/3154493
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Land at Crouch Lane, Holwell, Dorset DT9 5LP on the WDDC website for the Appeal
decision which was against the wishes of the local community and WDDC.)
There are a number of varied architectural styles, building materials, size of
dwellings etc. in Chetnole and WDDC are in a good position with professional staff to
decide those issues for future developments rather than to try and specify those
requirements in a Neighbourhood Plan. The Local Plan already states in paragraph
2.1.4 "The quality of design is key to making places that last. It is important that any
new development responds positively to the character of its surrounds. Local
distinctiveness and a sensitive response to local character go beyond aesthetic
considerations, covering issues such as the landscape or townscape setting, the
pattern of streets and spaces, organisation of uses, plot patterns and the scale and
positioning of buildings."
The West Dorset, Weymouth & Portland Local Plan 2015, Policies Maps -
Background Document also says this about Chetnole in paragraph 2.42
"The fields between Deep Ford Lane and Chetnole Court are designated as Land of
Local Landscape Importance. This is a visually important open space contributing
positively to the setting of the village, and Chetnole Court in particular, as well as the
Conservation Area. Also designated are the fields between the river and the main
road north of Neil’s Lane [sic] because of their positive contribution to the character
of the settlement and their interrelationship with the built and natural environment
(and the Conservation Area) and is attractive landscape in its own right. The village
playing field contributes positively to the character of village and the Conservation
Area and is also an important open space within the settlement, providing an
important setting for the Church. A Conservation Area was designated in 1993."
Therefore, it is unlikely that anything covering Conservation areas etc can be added
by a Neighbourhood Plan for Chetnole and Stockwood that is not already well
thought out and covered in the Local Plan.
Finally, the National Policy is already under review and will be changing and the
2015 Local Plan is also under review by WDDC. By law any Neighbourhood plan
will need to be rewritten to take into account any new provisions in any newer
revised Local Plan. This means the Neighbourhood Plan could turn into a full time
job to stay current.
SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATION
For the reasons given above the current Neighbourhood Development Plan
Committee recommends that the Parish Council not proceed any further with a
Should the Parish Council wish to continue with the Neighbourhood Plan or put the
Plan on hold please note that the majority of the current committee members as
listed in the opening paragraphs of this recommendation have or will resign from the
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on behalf of
The Chetnole and Stockwood
Neighbourhood Development Plan Steering Committee
Sue Woodford - Parish Clerk
Owen Pope - Chair of the Chetnole and Stockwood Parish Council