The latest issue of the Woodcote Correspondent is available to download here.
Selected photographs on this website courtesy of Alan Copeland.
Q) What is the Neighbourhood Plan Referendum?
Now that our plan has been officially examined and passed by an independent inspector, there will be a village referendum (April 3rd). This referendum is for electors in the Neighbourhood Plan boundary (very similar to the parish boundary) to vote YES (to adopt the plan) or NO (reject the plan).
Q) Why Bother? What happens if Woodcote doesn’t have an NP?
22 sites were put forward for development at the beginning of this plan process, and as recently as January 2014 another site for 10 homes is seeking planning permission. Without a Neighbourhood Plan, a presumption of approval is assumed. The Neighbourhood Plan empowers the village to help shape and determine how Woodcote develops in the future, based on the 5 sites and 76 dwelling. We expect EVERY ONE of the 22 sites put forward to apply for planning if the Woodcote Plan is NOT adopted, and likewise we would expect ANY site over 3 homes NOT mentioned in the Neighbourhood plan to be rejected.
Q) What happens to the selected sites after the Neighbourhood Plan is approved?
Each of the sites in the approved plan has to submit detailed planning permission to South Oxfordshire District Council. The number and type of houses are specified by our plan, but the individual layout is up to the developer. The normal planning process is then followed before full permission can be given. Only then can building commence.
Q) Why am I getting leaflets promoting particular sites through my door?
After the February 2013 consultation event, some of the 22 Landowners determined their land might not be included in the plan. As land increases in value by 80- 100 times when it is giving planning permission, there are great sums of money to be lost. The leaflets and door knocking are part of a campaign to promote their land above the allocated sites, which better match the feedback from the village.
Q) What is a Neighbourhood Plan (NP)?
A Neighbourhood Development plan (or Neighbourhood Plan) is a document that, once in place, ensures that development in Woodcote over the next 15 years is in line with what we, the residents want. It allows us to agree, as a community, where development takes place and the type, size and design of new developments.
Q) Why do we need one when the Parish Plan is only a couple of years old?
The Parish Plan did a great job of documenting what Woodcote
residents felt about and wanted for their village. It is, however,
only advisory and there is no requirement for the planners to observe
the views expressed.
The Neighbourhood plan (NP) is a legally binding document that must be respected by planners. Woodcote is a front runner, and has been given the funding to do this. It is very much a new process and we are leading the way. The NP has been given legal status through the Localism Bill
Q) Who decides what’s in the NDP?
The volunteer advisory group in consultation with all residents of Woodcote and SODC. The plan needs to conform to the SODC Core Strategy, and MUST be approved in a Village Referendum.
Q) Who is the Advisory Group? Is it representative of the village?
We are a group of around 20 people who all live in the village. Some of us have planning experience but all of us have a passion and interest in the future of the village. Some members grew up here, have raised families here and been here for more years than they dare remember and some have moved to the village in the last 5 years. Some of us work full time, part time, are retired or are full time carers of young children. Where we are under represented we will ensure we target those groups and gain their input (for example under 16’s).
Q) How are the Neighbourhood Plan and the Parish Council Related?
The Neighbourhood Plan (NP) advisory group is a advisory group to the Parish Council. The NP advisory group has some members from the Parish Council, but most are ordinary residents of Woodcote. The draft plan will be agreed by both the Parish Council & the NP advisory group before being subject to external examination, and finally a referendum by the residents of Woodcote
Q) How can I participate?
There are several ways to be involved:
1. You can send your views and questions to the advisory group or by asking to address one of their meetings or sub-groups.
2. You can subscribe to the electronic newsletter
3. You can answer questionnaires that will be in the Woodcote Correspondent or in the electronic newsletter from time to time.
4. You can attend upcoming Workshops and Drop in events
Q) Isn’t development driven by the number of people in the village in the 2027?
Yes. The Office for National Statistics tell us that today there are 2600 people and 1000 dwellings in Woodcote. Thus the population of the village has declined by some 170 since 2001. However, if Woodcote follows the rest of the District, by 2027 our population would be around 2800.
Q) Why did the population fall between 2001 and 2011?
Because the village is ageing. Much of the fall is accounted for by a drop in those aged 16-24 and 25 to 49 in the village.
Q) Will the village continue to age?
Yes. Unless there is an influx of families under 50 and a reduction in the number of younger villagers leaving the village.
Q) What about house prices?
We know that 40% of the houses in the villages have 4 or more bedrooms. House prices are between £250,000 (3 bed terrace) to over £550,000 (4 bed detached). House prices will increase in real terms over the next 16 years although predictions vary due to the current economic climate.
Q) What about rented accommodation?
Woodcote has a relatively small rented sector. The 2001 census showed that 15% of the village lived in rented accommodation, (12% social and 3% private). The great majority of us (85%) live in houses which we either own outright or are buying under mortgage.
Q) Are there any empty properties in the village that could be included in the plan?
South Oxfordshire county council will shortly be publishing a list of commercial buildings that are currently empty. Due to Freedom of Information, they are unable to disclose any private empty dwellings. We are working on getting at least the number of dwellings to assist in creating the Neighbourhood plan, but we expect the number to be negligible.
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