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The responses to the Housing and Village Plans sections of the survey provide a view of how the village should develop in the next few years.

Under the new South Worcestershire Development Plan, there are currently no plans for additonal housing in Birlingham outside the Village Settlement Boundary. This is a very limited area in the village centre where ‘infill’ (development in gaps between existing houses) may be considered. The Village Settlement Boundary is illustrated by an orange line on the Village Centre map.

This restriction is due to Birlingham’s lack of local amenities, such as a school, bus service and village shop. Therefore it is unlikely that Birlingham will see any significant increase in housing during the lifetime of the Development Plan (which lasts until 2025).

The Housing section of the survey was intended to find out whether there is a desire, or a need, for additional housing outside the Village Settlement Boundary and, if so, what form of housing is required.

20.  If housing development were to be permitted, what should it be for?
21.  If further housing development were to be permitted, what form should it take?

22.  Is there someone in your household who might need access to additional or alternative housing in the
      village in the next three years?

23.  If there were to be any development in the parish which of the following would you be most concerned

Village Plans
Planning decisions in Birlingham are currently made by reference to the general policies included in the new South Worcestershire Development Plan. 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.

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). £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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

Conservation Areas & Open Spaces
Two questions asked about the existing Conservations Areas and whether there was a need for additional open spaces to be given extra protection.

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 has two areas identified as Conservation Areas and development within these areas has additional restrictions. The conservation areas are illustrated by red dotted lines on the Village Centre map and Lower End map.

Red dots on the Conservation Area Suggestions map show the current area in the village centre, green dots show suggestions for additional areas.

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

Respondents were asked to identify any areas of the village that they thought should be protected as communal areas, open spaces or areas of particular importance for other reasons.

Suggestions for protected areas are shown on the Open Spaces Suggestions map

Sustainable and Renewable Energy
One question in the Environment section asked about sustainable and renewable energy.

18.  Are you in favour of sustainable or renewal energy resources in the village?


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Updated 31/10/2015 20:15.    © Copyright Birlingham Parish Council, 2015. All rights reserved.