Residents in Thorpe have overwhelmingly backed a community led Neighbourhood Plan which will allow the village to continue to grow by supporting new homes and infrastructure.
The plan is believed to be the first in Surrey in which the plan's forum (committee) has successfully secured an amendment to the existing Green Belt boundary to allow for sustainable growth to meet local needs.
As a result, the plan was hailed as 'an excellent example of positive proactive planning' by the independent examiner who reviewed the plan last summer.
The forum's proposals and the plan as a whole was supported by 85 per cent of people living in the area, during a referendum held at the same time as the local elections.
Following approval by Runnymede Borough Council's planning committee, the plan officially became live on 30 June. It will be used to determine planning applications within the neighbourhood area alongside the Runnymede 2030 Local Plan.
Changing the Green Belt boundary will allow for higher housing growth than required by the Local Plan, based on the forum's research, despite the physical constraints on land in the area.
A total of 1.76 hectares of Green Belt land has been changed to land available for house building. The rest of the village's Green Belt will remain protected and continue to be used as it is now for leisure activities or for the cemetery.
Features of the plan
- Retaining the special character of the village and strengthening green infrastructure in and around the village.
- New housing.
- Securing an important new community asset - around 11 hectares of new country park close to the heart of the village on land east of Ten Acre Lane and north of Cold Harbour Lane.
- A new multi use community area to include sports uses.
- A new car park for users of the church and Village Hall.
Cllr Linda Gillham, Thorpe Ward councillor and Chair of the Thorpe Neighbourhood Forum said,
The forum's approach is ambitious and proactive, and we're pleased such a large proportion of the community supported the plan we put forward.
We're excited by the opportunities this new plan will deliver for Thorpe, and the extra homes and infrastructure it allows for are a welcome addition which will allow the village to grow sensibly. Having a plan in place also allows residents to have an influence in planning applications in future which is good news.
Cllr Myles Willingale, Chair of the Council's Planning Committee added,
The plan highlights how planning policy can be a powerful tool used by local people to fulfil the ambitions of their neighbourhoods. I would like to congratulate all members of the forum who have given considerable time over the years to bring the plan to fruition.
We are always keen to hear the views of local people and neighbourhood planning is an excellent way for local communities to get a structured plan in place which genuinely represents the range of wants and needs in the local area. I would encourage other communities in the Borough to consider the benefits of developing a neighbourhood plan where they live.
Locally led process
Neighbourhood planning is a community led process. The Council can provide guidance and has a role in approving forums consisting of volunteers to work on a plan, and the geographic area proposed plans would cover.
The Thorpe Neighbourhood Forum is the first of four neighbourhood forums in Runnymede borough to reach and pass the referendum stage. Forums in Englefield Green, Virginia Water and Ottershaw are currently developing plans in these areas.
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