After four years in the making, Birchington’s draft Neighbourhood Plan is due to go out for formal consultation on September 8.
This follows a meeting for stakeholders and residents that was held on August 17 to provide an opportunity to discuss the plan, hear about how it has developed, what it covers and how it will be taken forward.
The plan aims to manage change and development in Birchington to ensure it respects and enhances the existing character of the parish.
Protection of the natural environment is a high priority as is the need to retain and support local shops and businesses.
Health and social well being is largely outside the remit of the plan but there is support for proposals to add to essential services.
Leisure and community facilities are deemed as essential for well-being by providing physical recreation and a base for social activities.
The character of the village is defined by its diverse buildings, street patterns, open spaces, views and vistas, seascapes and surrounding countryside. The plan seeks to protect, conserve and enhance the sense of community for residents and to meet the challenges of climate change and population growth in the future.
The Neighbourhood Plan has to meet local and national requirements in areas such as planning policy and sustainable development.
Other aims are to conserve and enhance heritage assets, urge that new developments are capable of being built and used creating net zero greenhouse gas emissions and to sustain agricultural production on Thanet’s best and most versatile farmland. Making sure residents have access to housing is also part of the plan.
The formal consultation will run for six weeks and the Plan will be available (with supporting evidence and specialist reports) on the Parish Council website; hard copies of the Plan will also be made available – locations tbc.
Once the consultation ends on October 21, the Parish Council will analyse all the responses and decide whether modifications are needed. The council then has to formally approve the amended version and submit it to Thanet District Council.
Rod Giddins, from the Neighbourhood Planning Group, said: “Thanet council will check the plan for conformity with planning laws and then publicise it. By February we hope TDC will have appointed an external independent examiner who will then review the plan in detail and may make modifications. This could take us into March/April 2022.
“The Parish Council will ultimately have to submit the plan to a referendum of voters in Birchington Parish and it is planned to do this on 5 May 2022. If the majority vote for it then TDC will formally approve it and it becomes part of the planning system.”
See the Plan details and keep up to date with the progress by visiting https://birchington-pc.gov.uk/