Updating Ledbury's Neighbourhood Development Plan
The process for producing and revising the Neighbourhood Development Plan
The process for the first Ledbury NDP plan began in September 2012 and was led by Ledbury Town Council alongside local volunteers. Between 2013 and 2017 the plan evolved through a process of public consultation, detailed studies covering land use, future needs and predicted growth. Town planning consultants Foxley Tagg were engaged to work alongside the NDP team, steering them through the highly technical process and carrying out research and technical studies.
Following two rounds of statutory, public and stakeholder consultation in the summer of 2017 (draft plan) and April 2018 (final draft) the plan was Examined by an Independent Examiner and adopted (or ’made’) in January 2019 after a local referendum. This asked ‘Do you want Herefordshire Council to use the neighbourhood plan for Ledbury to help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area’. 90.6% of votes cast were in favour of the plan.
However, once an NDP is 2 years old the housing policies become out of date. To strengthen it, the plan must be revised regularly and particularly in terms of housing growth. Work on a revised version began even before the first one was adopted because the process takes at least 2 years to produce a new one, so the NDP Working Party (WP), charged with producing the revised version, began meeting in late 2018.
A local landscape specialist, Carly Tinkler, carried out a landscape study which now provides detailed information to inform where and how Ledbury should grow. In addition, a planning consultant, Bill Bloxsome, was engaged to give technical guidance and help with the drafting work to ensure it was policy compliant. The work was paid for by a mix of grants and some funding from Ledbury Town Council.
A priority for strengthening the original plan was to put a ‘settlement boundary’ in place, which was not achieved in the 2019 version. The aim of a settlement boundary is not to restrict growth, but to guide development to the sites local people feel are right for the sustainable growth of the town. Sustainable in this context means: that development will support and not damage what we already have in environmental, economic and social terms (such as beautiful countryside, heritage and a thriving town centre); that people who live in newly developed areas will have the choice to walk or cycle or use public transport to get where they need to; and that new residents will have easy access to all the services they need and the town provides.
The examined revised version how has a settlement boundary accepted by the Examiner, who also accepted enhanced or new policies on green space and infrastructure and plans for providing a new combined facility for Ledbury’s football teams on land south of the Little Marcle Road.
In order to ensure that the revised plan met NDP regulatory requirements and reflected local people’s wishes, it has had to go through a number of stages.
1. To the end of 2020
Evidence gathering, informal stakeholder consultation, drafting of policies and proposals.
2. Summer 2021
First consultation on the changes to the 2019 plan and meetings with stakeholders. Consultation responses analysed and a draft plan with revised content was written.
3. Spring 2022
Public consultation on the re-drafted plan (regulation 14), followed by an analysis of consultation responses.
4. Autumn/Winter 2022
Final re-write of the plan to reflect public comments followed by formal public and stakeholder consultation and comment (Regulation 16).
5. Winter/Spring 2023
Examination by an Independent Examiner.
6. May 2023 and June 2023
Referendum and then anticipated adoption.