Neighbourhood Forum Meeting – A Success
Local residents, businesses and stakeholders joined together at Smalley Hall on Thornham Lane to learn about the process of setting up a Neighbourhood Forum and Planning Area.
The three invited presenters were able to bring a wealth of knowledge to the event.
The first of these was Dr Quintin Bradley, Senior Lecturer in Housing & Planning at Leeds Beckett University, who gave a very in-depth presentation on the subject. He said that there are now around 2200 Forums across England producing Neighbourhood Plans. Dr Bradley stressed that whilst the process can be daunting, it is definitely worth doing as it gives local residents, through their Forum and Plan, legal standing. This then means that the local Council must consult the Forum on planning applications in their Plan Area. He added that if you don’t do it, you leave the area open to uncontrolled and potentially inappropriate development.
Next up was Alan Rawsterne from the Rooley Moor Neighbourhood Forum. Alan was able to draw on his experience of setting up a Forum having started the process in October 2015 and their journey so far. Alan said that the community is using the process to help maintain & enhance the local environment so that residents and visitors alike can enjoy it well into the future.
Third we heard from Sohida Banu, Planning Officer with Rochdale Council. Sohida gave details of both the Council’s responsibilities and those of local residents, in setting up a Forum and Planning Area all the way to completing the process. She said that the Council was there to help the community and that Government funding is available to Forums so that they can engage professional help.
Feedback from the audience was very positive, many saying they found all the presentations very informative and giving them greater insight into the subject.
Event organisers and local residents Gordon Tilstone and Ian Briggs expressed their thanks to the presenters and said they were very pleased with the turn out.
“With continued support and input from the community, we can take the process of producing a Neighbourhood Plan forward and thus help protect and enhance the area for the benefit of all” said Gordon.
Ian Briggs added “Having a Neighbourhood Plan will mean we have legal rights, can influence what happens and make sure it is what people in the area actually want. We’re in favour of development but it has to be right for the community.”
One of the next steps will be to distribute a questionnaire across the Plan Area to further engage the local community in the process and make sure everyone’s view is taken into account.
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