It’s been a couple of weeks of fairly frenetic activity here at ‘Forum Towers’ as we continue to polish the Plan. We’ve also received some unwelcome news on the funding front. So, on the one hand we’re feeling elated the Plan is pretty much done and dusted – however on the other hand we’re a tad deflated that further progress will be slower than hoped. A case of 2 steps forward and 1½ back!
1. Best steps forward
- Actually, it’s more like a couple of strides. The Plan is very close to being finished. The Steering Group met last night for a polishing session with the next taking place on Tuesday for some final buffing.
- After that it will take a week or so to incorporate the improvements into the final version ready to be released for wider review. However,…….see ‘One backward step’ below.
- We received back a couple of key maps we commissioned for the Plan following some final tweaks. These illustrate critical components of our Plan – so you might like to have a sneak preview:
- Green Corridors. We know that protecting and improving the environment is the top concern for residents, so this map shows our thoughts on adding new green corridors (drawn to scale) to link together existing green space in our Area
- Footpaths and cycle routes. We want to create new and better routes through the area, especially through the Barracks, to encourage us all ‘get active’ and walk and cycle a bit more.
- New roads and tram extension route. Another big concern of residents is the serious congestion we see on local roads, especially Stapleford Lane. This map outlines possible solutions for roads along with a proposed route for the tram down to the station. But the key word here is ‘possible’. Notts County Council is the prime stakeholder when it comes to roads, and they have recently applied for government funds to improve access from the A52.
- These maps aren’t the most colourful, but the key information is clearly shown. Hopefully they chime with your ideas for new green spaces and travel routes. Let us know your thoughts
2. One backward step
- You’ll recall that we applied for a £5,600 grant from Awards for All to fund:
- the publication of the Plan – full booklets and summary leaflets
- promoting the Plan – by holding a series of consultation events in the area to formally capture your ideas and thoughts on the contents. What you like – what you want to see improved.
- We heard last week that we have been unsuccessful. This is a bitter blow as we submitted a strong application that fully deserved support.
- Without further funding, we are unable to undertake the next stage in the process. Which is to run the mandatory 6- week consultation with both residents in the Area and prime stakeholders/organisations who must be given the chance to comment on our proposals. Organisations such as the County Council, Natural England, the Environment Agency, as well as local landowners and businesses.
- The Steering Group has started to have a think about other sources of funding and one idea floated was that of crowd-funding. It is an interesting thought but we’re not sure whether it would work for us or not.
- As you know we have a fantastic number of supporters (both members and friends) on our books – over 1,000 at the last count. If everyone was willing to donate the cost of a large latte (£3 or £4), then we would cover the cost of publishing the Plan. But do you think it could work?
- Would you be willing to dip into your purse/pocket for a couple of quid? Or do you have other ideas how we could raise what is, relatively, a small amount to see us through this next stage. Please, let us know your thoughts; we need to consider all options.
3. And a further half step back
- Richard and I met with Steffan Saunders, Head of Planning at Broxtowe Council, this week. We asked to meet so we could:
- brief Steffan on our progress and to advise him we are close to getting the Plan ready for formal consultations
- understand where the council was in getting their Local Plan finalised following the examination hearings last December.
- Steffan explained that work on the Local Plan was going well but the council elections currently underway, has slowed progress. He believes that it will be formally adopted by the council soon after the summer ‘recess’ i.e. September.
- That timeframe does have a consequential impact for us. I had been hoping that, given a fair wind, we would have completed our formal consultation phase by mid-July and be ready to submit to the council by early August. But it is clear the council won’t be in a position to process our Plan until the Local Plan process is done and dusted.
- However, with our funding ‘crisis’, it is now highly unlikely we will complete our consultation much before end of August. So it doesn’t matter too much if we delay submission to the council by a few weeks – hence only a half-step back.
- We will re-work our project plan timescales in the next week or 2 to cater for the delay caused by funding. Steffan believes, based on his experience with other Neighbourhood Plans in the Borough, that it could take another 9 months before our Plan is formally adopted.
- I was really hoping we would get our Plan adopted this year. It now looks increasingly likely it will be early 2020 before we finally cross the line. I’ll report more on this when we’ve re-worked our timelines.
4. And finally…..
- No, I’ve already taken up too much space, so I’ll hold over a couple final snippets until next time.
Overall, we’re feeling really positive the Plan is virtually ready, but you can appreciate that we are also a little downbeat given we are scratching around for further funding and the consequential extension to the timeline. But that’s all for now, see you again next week
Broxtowe Lotto: tickets available from our CTTC Forum page where you’ll also find details of the scheme.