Creation of Honiton’s Neighbourhood Plan could be shelved until 2020
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The creation of a blueprint which maps out future development in Honiton could be put ‘on hold’ until 2020.
Town councillors were asked to consider a recommendation to shelve the document at a meeting last night because its current steering group is ‘inquorate’ - meaning it is not made up of enough members.
A report submitted to the council by deputy clerk Heloise Marlow said: “A steering group made up of about nine to ten members with one-third councillors and two-thirds community members is essential.
“In view of the lack of past and current interest from the community of Honiton, the officers recommendation is that a neighbourhood plan cannot currently be delivered.
“As such the recommendation would be to put the process on hold for a period of two years.”
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As part of the proposal, the town council’s annual budget of £10,000 would be put into earmarked reserves for a maximum of three years, including the financial year 2020-2021.
Research into average costings for a Neighbourhood Plan indicate that funding from the town council in the region of £30,000 would be needed, and there is limited grant funding available.
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The deputy clerk’s report added: “Currently there is £1,022 being brought into earmarked reserves which is the balance of the East Devon District Council start up grant.
“In May 2020 when the matter is reviewed, there would be earmarked reserves available of £31,022 and therefore should the drafting of a Neighbourhood Plan over the next two years gather public support, and the decision is taken to revive the process, this would allow funding to be made available immediately.”
Councillor Caroline Kolek said: “I think we all understand the recommendation and I feel we have no option but to go with it.
“Having been involved with the Neighbourhood Plan right from the start, I think it’s really sad that we are at this point.”
Councillors opted to vote on the recommendation at next month’s meeting after Cllr Roy Coombs voice his concerns over the recommendation.
He said: “There’s no deadline but if we had got our Neighbourhood Plan in place now, possibly things could have been done differently over the Halse of Honiton site or the Ottery Moor Lane business park.
“There could be other missed opportunities - if we have not got a Neighbourhood Plan in place it could, I feel, become a developers’ free-for-all.”
Cllr Coombs proposed to defer the item to the council’s June meeting.
His motion was unanimously approved.