12:59 Thursday 12 December 2013

Denstone hope to localise decisions

Written byJOANNA CRAIG

DENSTONE parish council has put in a request for the parish to be designated as a neighbourhood area, a move which will put planning decisions in the hands of village people.

The parish council is the thirteenth parish in East Staffordshire wishing to be designated as a neighbourhood area.

If they are successful in their request, the neighbourhood plan will help to shape the village and surrounding areas for the next 10 to 15 years and will allow Denstone people to have their say in planning decisions affecting the village.

Caroline Vernon, chairman of Denstone Parish Council said: “We made the decision as a council to apply for our own Neighbourhood Plan to give the village a chance to decide what will happen in the future of the area.

“Under a neighbourhood plan, new developments in Denstone would be a community decision – with everyone being able to input into the decision.

“It’s important that people are consulted about new development – there has been a certain amount of frustration in the village in the past when developments the public didn’t want were given the go-ahead after going to appeal.

“We’ve had a very positive response so far.

“We are hoping people will take part in our steering group which we will be forming in the new year.”

Councillor Vernon said housing would be high on the priority list of the neighbourhood plan for Denstone.

She said: “One of the issues the plan will look to tackle is housing provision.

“In Denstone we want to see a range of houses built, not just four bedroomed ones but also starter homes so that village residents buying their first home don’t have to move away from where they grew up to do so but have the option of buying in the village.

“We’d also protect the playing fields so they are not used for housing.

“Essentially, we want to give the community the power to make local decisions.”

Parish councils are able to ask that their areas be designated as ‘neighbourhood areas’.

When a parish council is a designated neighbourhood area, it means they can prepare Neighbourhood Plans for their local area.

These parish council plans set out policies that will be used by East Staffordshire Borough Council when making decisions on planning applications in that parish.

Sites for development can also be allocated in Neighbourhood Plans, and the parish council can identify the types of development or uses that will be preferred on the site.

There is now a six week public consultation period on the possibility of Denstone becoming a neighbourhood area and after this the borough council will be able to officially designate the area.

Those wishing to make a comment on the designation should head online and make their voice heard at www.eaststaffsbc.gov.uk/Planning/PlanningPolicy/NeighbourhoodPlanning/Pages/default.aspx.

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