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CHARDSTOCK:Chardstock plan goes on show

Tuesday, 08 July 2014

CHARDSTOCK Parish Council launched its Neighbourhood Plan with a two-day public exhibition over the weekend. Chardstock is a member of a 10-parish Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Neighbourhood Plan consortium, enabling some of the costs of planning to be shared, but the end result will focus specifically on Chardstock. The exhibition was held in the Community Hall and outlined the reasons for creating the plan, along with some of the main issues faced by the small, rural community and also describing the process of “plan making”. It coincided with the mass distribution to every home in the parish of a detailed questionnaire, encouraging every resident to contribute. More than 100 people visited the exhibition and were invited to leave written comments and opinions. This process of aligning the plan’s content with local opinion will continue throughout the project’s life. Parish council chairman Mary de Souza said: “For some years now, we, like many other parishes, have felt that the process of deciding what new housing should be approved for Chardstock is actually conducted elsewhere, behind our backs and over our heads. Consultation often feels like a token gesture. “Once inspected and approved in a parish referendum, our Neighbourhood Plan will have statutory status and should place control of many important planning matters back in the hands of the local community, which is where it belongs”. Among many others, the council invited St Andrew’s Primary School to be part of the launch. The students responded with enthusiasm, presenting a quartet of colourful posters illustrating what is good about the parish now and how it might be improved. Cllr de Souza continued: “This will be a long and difficult task but if in the end we are better able to protect assets like our Conservation Area and the AONB, to match development with the true needs of our parish and to protect the parish’s unique character and abundant wildlife habitat, then it will have been worth it.”

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