Another couple of weeks have passed during which the Steering Group held a (virtual) strategy workshop to discuss and agree the future direction and immediate task for the Forum and our ‘sister’ organisation – the Toton and Chilwell Community Interest Company (CIC). Three main strands emerged from our discussions: 1) short term tasks; 2) medium term influencing key stakeholders; and 3) long term ambitions to become a stakeholder in our own right. So, to be slightly contrary, I’ll start with number 2 first!
2. Influencing key stakeholders
- It is one thing (and it is a very big thing) to produce a Neighbourhood Plan; it carries weight and developers have to adhere to its policies. However, it becomes a lot easier if we can get the key stakeholders (landowners, investors, developers, local councillors) to buy into our policies from the outset. The SG agreed we needed to re-engage with these organisations and explain our policies and wider aspirations and ambitions for the Area.
- To that end, we have written to Sir John Peace (chair of Midlands Connect) with a copy of our Plan and requested a meeting so we can explain our ambitions for the Area and assure him that we want to work closely with the new DevelopmentCorporation, when it is formed. Here is a copy of the letter we sent.
- We copied the letter (and included a copy of the Plan) to a number of other key people in the Area, including our MP Darren Henry. Our chairman, Richard, managed to catch up with Darren on Friday and here is a short video of him presenting our Plan.
- Besides this letter, we have been in touch with other key stakeholders including HS2 Ltd. We have requested a catch-up session with them and we hope to meet up (virtually) in a week or so. We will also be getting in touch with Homes England (who are managing the development of the Barracks) to request a meeting with them in the next few weeks.
1. Immediate tasks
- As previewed a couple of weeks ago, the SG confirmed the following tasks to start work on straight away:
- Review the number of Tree Protection Orders (TPOs) we have in our Area and whether we need to add to them. The short answer is ‘yes’ – there are a number of trees on the Barrack (as well as some elsewhere) that we’d like to see added to the list.
- Apply for a ‘designated’ status to some of our prized green spaces. We’ve highlighted 7 locations in the first policy in our Plan (ENV01) so we shall be starting there. Other locations may well emerge over future years, but let’s get cracking with these. Both of these tasks will be managed by Margaret, who leads our Environment team.
- Local Cycling & Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIP). You may have been aware that Boris Johnson was in Beeston last week praising the value of cycling – indeed, one of our SG members a cycling enthusiast, was present at Canalside Heritage Centre to talk to him about local cycling. Anyway, I’m sure we are all aware of the growing emphasis by the government to encourage ‘active’ travel, whether that is walking or cycling. LCWIPs is the means for local communities to have a say in creating suitable, safe routes for both walkers and cyclists. With the advent of the Hub Station we are keen to maximise the opportunities to walk and cycle to/from the station (as well as further afield). Ian, a keen cyclist will be leading on this strand and will work closely with the local PEDALs cycling group as well as SUSTRANS (the national cycling/walking charity).
- Finally, we are also exploring the use of Neighbourhood Development Orders (NDOs) as another short-term task. NDOs are a mechanism to take our Plan to a more detailed level. They can be used to make it easier for developers to adhere to our policies by providing certain outline planning permissions. The SG endorsed the idea and confirmed that we should dig deeper into this option and get further advice.
3. Long term ambitions
- As you know, we have produced a 20-year Plan that stretches to 2040. And our aim is to stay around during that time to monitor new developments against our policies. We set up the CIC to be a long term, social enterprise that generates revenue and, hopefully, profits that will be ploughed back into the community. ‘Generates revenue’ is, of course, the critical bit – the CIC must be self-sustaining if it is to stick around in the long term. So, the SG discussed a number of options. The two that rose to the top of the pile and will be investigated further are:
- The Barracks ‘Plaza’: Commercial and community facility owner
- Local energy provider
- To take either of these forward we know we’ll have to consider some sort of partnership or joint ventures with investors and other interested parties.
- Regarding becoming a local energy provider, we have come across an Oxfordshire based organisation – the Low Carbon Hub CIC – as an example of a community led power generation and storage provider. So, we are looking further into this organisation to see if we might want to replicate it in our neck of the woods.
- However, as it said in the title, these are long term ambitions/aspirations, so a lot more work is needed here before committing to anything. But we have to start somewhere…
4. And finally…
- Happy Birthday to the digest! Yes, it was three years ago (the last Sat in July 2017) when the digest was first produced and today is the 111th edition. I can’t quite believe it has been this long – the intervening time as gone quickly. However, we’ve always known we were in for the long haul and, as you can see from the above, we spend most of our time looking forward, not backwards. So, here’s to the next 3 (and the rest) years.
More next time.