Ashtead Community Vision (ACV) was set up in response to the Localism Act 2011. We wanted to make sure that Ashtead’s residents, businesses, and organisations, had 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 established a Forum of over 40 residents who were broadly representative of the community. The Forum was designated by Mole Valley District Council in July 2013 to prepare a Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP) that would feed into the Local Development Framework for MVDC for the next 20 years.
The working group, known as Ashtead Community Vision, were members of the Forum and met regularly. The Working Group carried out the research to find existing statistics about Ashtead. Some of this information was garnered from the 2011 census and from MVDC. We also informed and consulted with the community to find out what the housing needs might be in the next 15 years and how people wanted Ashtead to develop to create a vision for Ashtead.
There were over 40 members of the Forum, including representatives from the business community, local Councillors, ex-local Councillors and a major land owner. The Forum was 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 was to complete a review of the Green Belt boundary around Ashtead and to consider the housing development sites put forward. Once these two exercises were complete, attention returned to the completion of a Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP) which looks at the future needs of the village. The NDP was adopted by Mole Valley in May 2017.
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 oversaw 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 ended with a referendum of the electorate of Ashtead. At the end of the process the NDP was adopted as part of the district’s planning policy in May 2017.
So why does Ashtead need all this bother?
If we had not done something, Mole Valley would be solely responsible for planning issues and the voice of Ashtead might not be heard as clearly.