INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
The Need for Boston Spa’s Neighbourhood Plan....
1. Neighbourhood Plans are a refreshingly new way for local people to shape the future planning of their village or neighbourhood. They are “can-do” Plans. All ages and groups of people in the community are able to have a real say upon important local issues.
A Neighbourhood Plan gives us the opportunity to create a shared and sustainable vision
of how we’d like our village to be over the next 15 years or so; to ensure that any new development or change
fits in and contributes to the well-being of the village; and to conserve the village character
and sense of belonging that we so value, especially here in Boston Spa. A Plan will help us to manage any pressures for change positively, for the good of the community. It’s about making the village an even better place, for us and future generations.
2. For these reasons, the Parish Council took the first steps to get a Neighbourhood Plan for Boston Spa off the ground; with encouragement and support from Leeds City Council. In Spring 2012 several Parish Councillors and residents formed a “Steering Group”; to carry out consultations by fully involving the community at each stage of the Plan. In turn, we in the Group carefully considered all your valued responses and insights into village life and your concerns for the future. This has enabled us to create this Draft Plan for you to consider. Before the Plan is finalised, we are asking that all- important question – have we got it right? Please tell us! Over the coming weeks there will be lots of opportunities to find out more, and to comment in ways we hope will be convenient for you.
The Next Steps....
Please complete the questionnaire which has been delivered to every home in the village alternatively it is available to complete online here.
The responses will be kept anonymous.They will provide such valuable information, to help the Plan progess. Starting with the public exhibitions on 3rd and 4th July, there will be a series of informal “drop-in” and other events for you during July. We’re asking for your views by the end Introduction of July, so that we can amend the Draft Plan during August, taking your comments on board.Then we are into the formal stages that Neighbourhood Plans have to go through. Briefly, official organisations and major landowners are to be consulted for a 6-week period, scheduled for November. Importantly, our community will also be invited to comment further during this time.
4. Next, the amended Plan is to be agreed with Leeds City Council, before it is examined by a Government Inspector, who makes sure we have followed all the correct procedures for creating a Neighbourhood Plan.The very final step is a referendum of the village, to be held next Spring. With a vote in favour, the Plan has the seal of approval!
How Our Neighbourhood Plan Will Work....
Here we summarise some of the more official aspects of the Plan. Neighbourhood Plans, and the consultation process that brings them into being, are prepared under Regulation 15 of the Government’s Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012. Our Plan covers the whole of Boston Spa Parish. All Neighbourhood Plans have to come together with the local council’s overall planning policies; in our case Leeds City Council. However, such Plans are new and different because, more than ever before, the community is at the heart of the decision making process. Our Plan will have its own distinctive local policies, with legal standing, that must be taken into account in any planning decisions, including planning applications.
6. Whilst our local policies need to relate to planning issues, such as the use of land, we can include aspirations in the Plan.These do not have the same legal standing, but are valuable in expressing the community’s wider concerns, and helping to direct future resources and galvanise potentially exciting community projects.
The Aspirations are described in the Plan as Community Actions. Unlike Policies they are not mandatory and will only happen if residents and other stakeholders give
their support and if funding can be raised where expenditure is required . A number of the Community Actions are seen as long term acknowledging that the Plan has a 15 year horizon and will be the subject of a major review every 5 years.
The Evolution of Our Village....
Boston Spa is one of the larger settlements, towards the north-east boundary of the Leeds City Council area. Residents refer to it as “the village”, even though it has several urban qualities. There is evidence of occupation hereabouts from the Iron Age onwards, through successive periods of history.
Yet the village only sprang to life in the mid 18c, with the discovery of the spa mineral waters in 1744. Until then, Boston Spa was part of the open field system in the township of Clifford village. There followed rapid growth until the 1830’s, with the elegance of
Georgian architecture that characterises Boston Spa to this day; being at the heart of its sense of place.
8. So, the pace of change in Boston Spa slowed; with a re-awakening in the early 19c, establishing the strong linear character of the village, astride the A659 and bounded by the River Wharfe. Much later, mid and late 20c developments, suburban in style, expanded the village to its present shape. The village’s population growth tells its own story: from 600 people in 1879, to 2400 by 1951, then a jump to 4046 in 2011.
On completion of the Church Fields development it will increase to over 4500. All the while, the village retained its green setting and separation from adjoining settlements; essential to its identity. In finding a future for Boston Spa, we believe the Plan needs to involve today’s community in
“RespectingHistory....Adapting to Change....Improving Lives”.
Involving the Community, step by step....
9. The community needs to be at the heart of Neighbourhood Planning. We set out to consult and involve all sectors of our community, as widely as possible, in several stages. Firstly we “sounded out” the community, towards the end of 2012 and early in 2013. We wished to find out about the main “likes” and “dislikes”of village life.This included discussions with organisations and community groups, publicity about the Plan, and a leaflet delivered to all properties in the village. Our village wide questionnaire followed. The response rate was very encouraging. At the same time, projects involving young people and the business community were started.The resourcefulness and insights of our community soon became evident.The outcomes of this stage of consultations were brought together in a Public Exhibition and Meeting in July 2013; with a lead in of publicity and going out to people around the village in our gazebo.
10. The Steering Group then got down to analysing the gratifying range of responses that you gave; to enable the Plan’s vision and objectives to be formed. The results were presented to the community through the next stage of publicity and a series of events and “drop-in sessions, culminating in our second Public Exhibition and Meeting in July 2014. Again we advertised the exhibition, for example by delivering a flyer to all properties, and held lead up events.
All the while, posters were displayed up and down the village. This stage of consultation gave us the “go ahead” to prepare the Draft Plan now before you; which includes the policies we believe are needed for the future of the village.
Sustainability: Our Future....
All Neighbourhood Plans must ensure that any development or changes contribute to the sustainability of the area concerned. What do we mean? Well, sustainability starts with the responsibilities of our generation. We need to hand over to our descendants a place that will be better in environmental, social and economic terms. The policies in the Draft Plan are designed to achieve that.
12. Are we going to succeed? We believe the answer is yes, working with you. The policies will have no negative effects. On the contrary, taken individually most will contribute to sustainability. For example, they do so through better designed and more energy efficientnewhomes;orbyprotectingtreesandgreen spaces. Also, because the policies are related to one another, taken overall the benefits accrue; in what we can do day by day, as well as the longer term.
What’s in this Draft Plan?
13. The Plan comes in sections.They cover the main topics of concern that resulted from consultations and extensive research by the Steering Group and many other people.The final Plan will be supported by an evidence base, summarising all the comments received and studies undertaken.We hope you find this Draft interesting and worthy of your support; to help secure the Neighbourhood Plan for our village, our homes, our livelihood and community well-being. We are here to help and details of how to get in touch are given at the end of the Plan.