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Planning decisions in Birlingham are currently made by reference to the general policies included in the new South Worcestershire Development Plan. Birlingham also has two areas identified as Conservation Areas and development within these areas has additional restrictions.

The Government has encouraged parishes nationwide to consider the creation of either a Neighbourhood Plan or a Village Design Statement.

Both types of plan are based on research into the history, development and current structure of the village; both require significant community involvement in their creation, leading to agreed proposals for guiding the future development of the village.

The differences between these two types of plan are given below, along with a description of Conservation Areas.

24. Does Birlingham need a Neighbourhood Plan?

A Neighbourhood Plan would carry legal weight as part of the South Worcestershire Development Plan but cannot prevent housing development taking place. It can, however, influence the type and location of any development. In addition, a Neighbourhood Plan is not just about housing; it also covers employment, shopping, transport, leisure and well-being, environment, sustainability and design.

A Neighbourhood Plan is a formal process, defined by the government, which has to be followed and all points have to be evidence-based. As a result it could cost up to £15,000 due to the need for external consultants. Grants paying for about half of this may be available, with the balance having to be funded by the village. A Neighbourhood Plan also requires a large amount of volunteer’s time and typically takes 3 to 4 years to complete.

To put this into context, £15,000 is 15 times the typical annual surplus that the Parish Council has after village costs are taken from the precept (the Council's income, raised through Council Tax) - see Q45 in the Parish Council section. £15,000 is also 4 times the current reserves, which are held by the PC to pay for unbudgeted items such as maintaining the plane tree on the village green. Given that the Council is currently required by central government to restrict increases in the precept to a maximum of 2%, even £7,500 would have to be found through separate fund raising or individual donations from members of the village.

25. Does Birlingham need a Village Design Statement?

A Village Design Statement describes the distinctive character of the village by reference to its landscape setting, the settlement shape and the nature of the buildings themselves; it draws up design principles based on these characteristics; and it is used to work with planners and developers to ensure that the agreed principles are observed in all aspects of development. It is likely that the Design Statement could be completed more quickly than the Neighbourhood Plan and require less far-reaching research and analysis.

26. Would you be willing to commit your time to help develop a Neighbourhood Plan
      or Village Design Statement?

It is important to note that, because of the effort and time needed to set up either type of plan, the Parish Council cannot commit to starting either a Neighbourhood Plan or a Village Design Statement without a majority of residents indicating they are in favour and without enough villagers being prepared to help in the process and raise the necessary funds.

27. Would you be willing to contribute towards the cost?

As stated above, a Neighbourhood Plan is a very costly commitment; Village Design Statements do not carry the same legal weight and are not defined by such strict regulations, so the cost of preparing one would be significantly less. Although some costs would be covered by grants, the rest would need to come from an increase in Council Tax, fund-raising events and personal contributions.

28. Are you happy with the Conservation Areas as currently defined?

A Conservation Area protects features such as trees and hedges, and ensures that new development and alterations to existing properties are in keeping with the area.

Birlingham currently has two conservation areas. The conservation areas are illustrated by red dotted lines on the Village Centre map and Lower End map.

29. Are there any open spaces that you would like protected from development?

Please identify any areas of the village that you think should be protected as communal areas, open spaces or areas of particular importance for other reasons.

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Updated 03/08/2015 13:00.    © Copyright Birlingham Parish Council, 2015. All rights reserved.