More than 50 people attended an inaugural launch meeting of the Waltham Abbey Neighbourhood Plan Group held by Waltham Abbey Town Council at Waltham Abbey Town Hall on Monday.
The plan will detail how local people - its residents and businesses - see the future of the whole of Waltham Abbey parish in the next 15-plus years.
Councillor Antony Watts, chairman of the town council's Neighbourhood Plan sub-committee, told the meeting that the town council had decided against working on separate Neighbourhood Plans for each part of the parish and instead a single Neighbourhood Plan would cover the Waltham Abbey parish - Waltham Abbey, Sewardstonebury, High Beach and Upshire.
He said: "The whole of the parish of Waltham Abbey is a right mixture (urban and rural) and it works, and it works in an extraordinary way so it's very, very important that we keep it as one Neighbourhood Plan."
He added: "The town council has been leading this and driving this but this is a Neighbiurhood Plan for Waltham Abbey, by Waltham Abbey. It is not the town council's plan. The town council will be here to assist."
Councillor Sam Kane, who was chosen as the acting chairman of the town's Neighbourhood Plan Group, said: "This isn't a short-term project.
"Depending on how much we take on it could take anything between one and two years."
The meeting discussed various possible sub-groups which could form part of the overall Neighbourhood Plan Group - Housing, Tourism, Infrastructure funding, Local economy - business and retail, Education, Transport and Leisure.
The meeting decided to wait until after Epping Forest District Council publishes its Draft Local Plan later this month before progressing on deciding on membership for the sub-groups.
A further meeting to progress arrangements will be held by the town council in November.
Thank you for your interest in the Waltham Abbey Neighbourhood Plan (WANP)
We are still very early in the project, so now is a great time to get involved.
As you know the Neighbourhood Plan is part of the new approach to planning, which aims to give local people more say about what goes on in their area. The planning process ensures that local people are involved in the choices that will help to shape our neighbourhood, and set out a vision for the area that reflects the views and feelings of local people with a real interest in their community.
We have, so far, setup a Steering Group made up predominantly of local town and district councillors. Their role is to:
• define the vision and objectives for the Neighbourhood Plan
• define the scope of work needed to develop the WANP
• develop a project plan and communications plan for delivery of the WANP
• identify and enlist volunteers to staff the working groups
• manage resources and budget to deliver the WANP; apply for grant support as appropriate
• resolve conflicting views across working group areas of interest
• report on progress to Waltham Abbey Town Council
• maintain communications and collaboration with Epping Forest District Council planners
• identify external resources, if required, to assist or advise on WANP presentation
The Steering Group meets at the Town Hall on the first Friday of each Month.
The next step is to hold an inaugural meeting of all the volunteers to establish the WANP Committee; This is to be held at the Town Hall on the 12th September at 7:30pm, So make a note in your diary now!
This inaugural meeting aims to achieve three things:
1. Identify the key themes that will make up the Vision for Waltham Abbey
2. Identify the objectives for the plan
3. Identify and elect those volunteers who wish to sit on the WANP committee
At the meeting the intention is to break off into different workgroups, each workgroup focussing on a particular aspect of Waltham Abbey that might be considered as integral to the Neighbourhood Plan. The objective for each group is to:
• Identify what would be 'the vision' for just their groups aspect of the plan
• Identify objectives for their group
Hopefully we will have enough volunteers to be able to form the following groups:
1. Housing Need
2. Build environ (Style guide)
3. Tourism & Historic Waltham Abbey
4. Leisure & Recreation
5. Commercial (Retail, Business & Industry)
6. Community Facilities
8. Education Facilities
Following on from the workgroup discussions the intention is to then as a group decide
• Which areas should be the main emphasis of the plan
• What is felt to be the key 'visions' for the WANP
• Which of the objectives should be carried forward
Finally, having decided on what our main themes or areas of focus are to be, we will be seeking volunteers to take their place on the WANP committee, one member for each of the workgroup themes
Make no mistake, if you decide you wish to take part in the making of this plan, it will take up a considerable amount of your time. But, it will be extremely interesting, challenging and we hope ultimately rewarding. Our best estimates at the moment is that the WANP will take approximately 18 months to draft.
So, once again thank you for your interest and we look forward to seeing you on the 12th September, so that we can get started.