Hungerford Neighbourhood Plan

Frequently Asked Questions

This page attempts to provide answers to some of the questions and concerns that have been asked about the Neighbourhood Plan. The goal is to explain some of the key topics in plain English.

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  1. What is a Neighbourhood Plan?

    The legislation enabling Neighbourhood Plans was introduced by the government in 2011 under the Localism Act. It means that local people can tailor the planning policies which apply to their specific area in a way that it better suited to their local circumstances and how they wish their surroundings to change in the future. The completed NP documentation forms part of the legally applicable planning rules alongside the District and National policies. The weight carried by a Neighbourhood Plan is underlined by the fact that it has to pass a formal planning examination to verify its legal validity and then a referendum of the people of the area.

  2. We already have a Town Plan, so how is this different?

    The Hungerford Town Plan is now 5 years old but continues to provide the Town Council and to some extent West Berkshire Council with a valuable understanding of many important aspects of our town and actions needed to address them as identified by the community. Resulting improvements have included the new Zebra crossing in Bridge Street, road safety improvements by the John O'Gaunt school and additions to the Croft Field facilities. However, it is now ineffective as part of the planning process. A Neighbourhood Plan will mean that our local planning authority, West Berkshire Council, must apply our NP policies when considering planning applications and determine applications accordingly.

  3. What sorts of things can a Neighbourhood Plan do?

    A Neighbourhood Plan is a way for a community to develop and agree an up to date vision for their area so that they can choose where new homes, shops, offices and other developments should be built. They can identify and protect important green spaces and influence the design of new buildings.

    By having a completed Neighbourhood Plan, the town will benefit from an increased share of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) charged by West Berks on most new developments in our area.

  4. Can a Neighbourhood Plan do anything we want?

    No! However, we can have a meaningful and positive impact on our area by having a Plan. A Neighbourhood Plan becomes part of a three tier planning framework. The national government has created an umbrella framework of how all planning decisions in England should be considered. This is called the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). Working within the rules of the NPPF a Local Planning Authority (LPA) such as West Berkshire Council documents their Local Plan which applies to all of their local government area. A Neighbourhood Plan can complete the picture by providing much greater refinement and detail solely applicable to the NP area. A fundamental requirement of a NP is that it has to be in general conformity with the Local Plan and the NPPF. This means that the NP should aim to provide a greater level of detail of local planning issues but should not contradict the Local Plan and NPPF.

  5. Why are we doing it now?

    There are several contributing factors that together have led to the decision to start the Hungerford 2036 project to create a Neighbourhood Plan:-

    • Hungerford Town Council has investigated the potential benefits for the town of producing a Neighbourhood Plan as well as the implications of NOT doing so and concluded that having NP would be beneficial.
    • West Berkshire Council has recently started a 2-3 year project to update their local development plan
    • The Town Plan is now 5 years old and whilst still of relevance in general terms it would no longer be seen as current or enforceable
    • HTC talks with West Berkshire Council have reassured the Town Council that a Hungerford Neighbourhood Plan developed in parallel with their Plan update would be an ideal time to do it
    • The Town Council has gauged the enthusiasm among residents to support the project and concluded that the project will be supported
    • Recent concerns in Hungerford and at the Town Council regarding the recent planning decision on the southern edge of the town

    Taking all these factors into account Hungerford Town Council has formally agreed with West Berkshire Council that the Town will develop a Neighbourhood Plan.

  6. Why 2036?

    2036, or around 15 years from when we would hope our Neighbourhood Plan would come into effect, represents a planning horizon which strikes a balance between being long enough to envisage significant progress in the Town but without needing to stretch our imaginations too far. 2036 as an end date also aligns our plan with the declared aim of the West Berkshire Council Local Plan Update that they have started recently. By being aligned in this way we can ensure that our plan will be in general conformity with the West Berkshire Plan once it is finalised.

  7. Who is in the Project Team? Can I join?

    The Hungerford 2036 Project Team is initially made up of volunteers from Hungerford some of whom are currently serving as Town Councillors. The Project is supported and assisted by the Town Council Clerk. The members are Claire Barnes (TC Clerk), Tony Drewer-Trump (joint Chair), John Downe (joint Chair, TC), Denise Gaines (TC), Richard Hudson (TC), Chris Scorey. We would like the core team to grow a little and to be as representative as possible of the diversity of the area, ages and interests.

    If you would like to play an active part please contact Claire Barnes in the first instance.

  8. I don't have a lot of spare time. What can I do to help?

    Even if you don't have much time to volunteer, there will many opportunities for you to contribute your ideas and respond to surveys and consultations. If you have a little more time we would like to hear from you with what you would be able to do and how much time you can volunteer. As the project progresses many hands will definitely be needed! At the very least you could send an email to asking to be kept informed of progress.

  9. Can West Berks simply ignore what we say?

    Before agreeing to start Hungerford 2036 Hungerford Town Council has had in depth discussions with West Berkshire Council at the highest level to assure themselves that West Berks will firstly actively support Hungerford with the Neighbourhood Plan Project throughout the work and secondly work with the Town to ensure that their Local Plan Update and our Neighbourhood Plan stay well aligned. Once the Hungerford Neighbourhood Plan comes into force West Berkshire simply cannot ignore it - it will by then be part of the legal planning framework which must be used in the Hungerford area.

  10. Will having a Neighbourhood Development Plan stop the Salisbury Road development?

    No. That outline planning decision has already been made and the Neighbourhood Plan will not have any effect on it.

  11. Does the Plan area cover where I live? Will I be able to vote in the referendum?

    The Hungerford Neighbourhood Plan will cover the entire area inside the Civil Parish boundary - see the map. This means that it includes all of the Hungerford Town built-up area, Eddington, Hungerford Newtown, Leverton, Sanham Green and all of the area from Prosperous Home Farm to the south of the town to the M4 junction to the north, and from Park Farm to the east to North Standen House to the west. Everyone of a qualifying age living in this area will be able to vote in the Neighbourhood Plan referendum in due course. Policies included in the Neighbourhood Plan will be applicable to all of this area.

  12. Why will it take so long to do?

    A Neighbourhood Plan is a formal legally enforceable document. Therefore its contents need to be created based on clear research and evidence. There is a well-tried project process which needs to show that all the required conditions for a valid plan have been satisfied and addressed such as consultations with local residents and statutory bodies such as the AONB and English Heritage. Then there needs to be a formal examination of the Plan before it can be submitted for a yes / no referendum. To ensure the robustness of the Plan It is also very important that it stays synchronised with West Berkshire's Local Plan Update which is expecting to be on a similar timescale.

  13. How much will the project cost and who will pay?

    Overall, the development of the Hungerford Neighbourhood Plan will probably cost in the region of £20-25,000 based on experiences elsewhere and the amount previously spent on the Town Plan. Hungerford Town Council has already budgeted £5,000 in 2018-19 to start the project and will be applying for grants of £9,000 or more which have been funded from central government. Expenditure will be authorised and managed by Hungerford Town Council and its financial officer.

  14. My question isn't here!

    Complete the form below, including your email address (which will ONLY be used for a reply), and a member of Hungerford 2036 team will respond.

    Alternatively you can contact the Town Clerk by email or by phone 01488-686195.