Shepton’s Neighbourhood Plan
We have today published the main aims of our Neighbourhood Plan.
The 11 Objectives have been developed from the community events that took place over the summer.
The main focus is on providing the community and leisure facilities that the town needs, protecting the town’s historic and natural environment and revitalising the town centre.
The list includes;
• Protect open spaces that are used for informal recreation – specifically the northern end of the Showground, the Meadows and land north of the Cemetery
• Make the most of the town’s historic or key buildings – try to ensure that the town’s key buildings contribute positively to the social, cultural or economic life of the town.
• Develop the sports facilities the town needs
• To give young people more to do, develop youth facilities and services
• Make the town centre a lively, safe and attractive place to meet and shop
• Improve cycling access across the town and to neighbouring towns
• To improve design quality of all developments (including in-fill), develop a Town Design Guide
You can view the full list by clicking the attachment 'Draft Objectives' at the bottom of this page.
People are clearly passionate about protecting what’s best about the town but also want to see more made of the town’s heritage and making the town centre useful and attractive to today’s consumers.
There are some issues in the Cowl Street area regarding control of poor quality infill development and a desire to see an extension of the Conservation area. We are looking at the options to determine the best way to solve these issues.
Identifying options is the next step for the Plan – we have visited the Anglo building, spoken with the owners of the Amulet/Academy and the Telephone Exchange and have explained to the Ministry of Justice’s planning consultants what people have said they want to see happen with the prison.
Our Neighbourhood Plan is different to most – there is no mention of additional housing and little mention of jobs and skills. This reflects the fact that there has been virtually no interest from the community in discussing additional housing. This is a missed opportunity but understandable, given the Shepton Mallets campaign against the Showground allocated site and the coming Local Plan inquiry. Neighbourhood Plans cannot argue against allocated sites in district-wide Local Plans (though they can add detail such as what types of housing are needed or what they should look like).
There is a gap in numbers between the Local Plan target and what the allocated site will deliver (if it goes ahead) – meaning other sites will have to be identified. This process could have done that, but seemingly there is no appetite to do this.
We are asking for people interested in a number of the objectives to attend workshops to be held in November or December.
There were many issues raised and good suggestions offered on how to revitalise the town centre – mainly from shoppers and other users and a few businesses - however we need more consensus on what should happen before we proceed to the Draft Plan.
Therefore we’d like to invite town centre shopkeepers, other town centre businesspeople and commercial property owners to a workshop, so that we can agree what is feasible - we already have a good number of shoppers and other users of the town centre who have expressed an interest earlier in the process. Some of the actions we agree may be planning-related and some won’t be – getting consensus on the way forwards is what matters.
We also need a workshop on cycling provision - we have some suggested routes but need to check these with a wider group of cyclists.
Finally, we have struggled to engage with young people, partly because the schools have all been unwilling to take part. We need to host a workshop or similar with young people, any youth workers and interested parents to agree on what youth facilities are needed and where.
32 people have already said earlier in the process that they’d like to attend workshops– numbers will be limited and we’d like a good mix of different ‘stakeholders’.
You can contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Since our stall at the Mid Somerset Show on 18th August, the Steering Group and I have been busy developing a list of Objectives that reflect the key issues that people told us about at our three events to date. We hope to get this out soon, and want to hear what you think of it.
We then need to have a few workshops to refine the thinking on some objectives - especially on making the town centre more vibrant (we need businesses, landlords and users in that). The workshops will be another opportunity to get involved.
At the bottom of this page, you will find the Steering Group Minutes. Draft Minutes are approved at the next meeting, hence the delay until they are published. The latest news re the membership of the Steering Group is that Peter Hillman (Shepton Mallets) stood down, and Tanya Griffiths and Robert Stonor (both Residents rep) have joined. We hope that Sarah Thomas, another resident, will join us soon.
Thanks for all your input to date and please keep communicating and taking part. Contact me by email at email@example.com
It’s understandable that the biggest issue for many people is the prospect of a large housing development on the Showground site, but it was good that they came along and took part in explaining what the other issues for the town are, and gave lots of ideas of how to solve these.