10:15am Tuesday 15th October 2013
By Gina Bebbington
A GOVERNMENT minister is holding up a Hartford plan as a prime example of the community taking control of its future.
Nick Boles MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Planning, visited the village on Monday to find out about the community’s neighbourhood plan.
He said: “This is a really good example and a good idea of how to get a good deal for the community.”
Volunteers from the village have spent 18 months working on the plan, which sets out a shared vision for the area, where homes and developments should be built, what new buildings should look like and which green spaces should be protected.
Mr Boles explained how a neighbourhood plan differs from the parish plans and village design statements that communities have completed in the past.
“The very important difference is that all the other things like parish plans and design statements only ever had advisory status,” he said.
“You do a lot of work and it is taken into account but it doesn’t influence decisions.
“Once a neighbourhood plan has passed a referendum it has statutory weight so it’s of equal legal force with anything in the local plan.
“That’s a really significant thing because it means decisions will be made according to local people.”
Eira Bowden, from the neighbourhood plan group, said: “It’s been a very steep learning curve because we’re all volunteers, but people are passionate about Hartford.”
For more information about Hartford Neighbourhood Plan there is an open day at Hartford Village Hall from 10am to 4pm on Saturday, October 12.
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