Ashtead Community Vision (ACV) was set up in response to the Localism Act 2011. We want to make sure that Ashtead’s residents, businesses, and organisations, have a chance to shape the future development of building and housing in our village.
Because Ashtead does not have have a Parish Council firstly we have established a Forum of over 40 residents who are broadly representative of the community. The Forum was designated by Mole Valley District Council in July 2013 to prepare a Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP) which will feed into the Local Development Framework for MVDC for the next 20 years.
The working group, known as Ashtead Community Vision, are members of the Forum and meet regularly. The Working Group has to carry out the research to find out existing statistics about Ashtead. Some of this information can be garnered from the 2011 census and from MVDC. We also have to inform and consult with the community to find out what the housing needs will be in the next 15 years and how people want Ashtead to develop to create a vision for Ashtead.
There are over 40 people on the Forum and the group so far includes representatives from the business community, local Councillors, ex-local Councillors and a major land owner. We are non-political but the knowledge of planning policies, contacts and advice of the Councillors is vital.
During the latter part of 2013 into early 2014, the focus of the Forum has been to complete a review of the Green Belt boundary around Ashtead and to consider the housing development sites put forward. Once these two exercises are complete, attention will return to the completion of a Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP) which will look at the future needs of the village. The timescales for the completion of this work are currently under review, and will be advised in due course.
This will enable the community to take a measure of responsibility for deciding its own future. The issues include:
- Choosing where new homes, shops and offices could be built
- Having our say on what those buildings should look like to maintain the character of the village
- Ensuring local infrastructure for education, health, transport, and environment are adequate and efficient
- Trying to reduce the impact of development on the green belt and protecting green spaces
The Forum will oversee the preparation of the NDP which must be done within planning policy established by MVDC and national planning policy or it will not be acceptable. Nor will it receive approval if proper consultation of the community does not take place.
The approval and adoption process is not simple and ends with a referendum of the electorate of Ashtead. It will only be approved if more than 50% vote in favour of the NDP. At the end of the process the NDP will be adopted as part of the district’s planning policy. That should be by early 2015.
So why does Ashtead need all this bother?
If we do not do something, Mole Valley will continue to be solely responsible for planning issues and the voice of Ashtead might not be heard as clearly.
This is a one off opportunity. If we do not do this now Mole Valley have to do similar work in order to update their plans, and they have started. That will be without anything like the local input we can achieve if we work together on it. If we are to have any influence we must act now. Bookham, Westcott, Ockley and Brockham are all working on preparing plans so we are not alone in this in Mole Valley.