Neighbourhood Plan

This page outlines the formal process of developing a Neighbourhood Plan for Godalming & Farncombe and summarises the progress made to date. At this stage there is no one document to read because the plan is being drawn together from numerous sources and evidence. Check our latest news below or our Facebook page or Twitter stream for up to date progress on drafting the plan.

How we began

This story of our neighbourhood plan journey is very specific to our plan. For a general overview of the neighbourhood planning process please click on the tab “Process” above.

In March 2013 Godalming Town Council applied to Waverley Borough Council for designation of the whole of the Town Council’s area as a neighbourhood area and the area was designated on 16 July 2013.  The Neighbourhood Plan process for Godalming & Farncombe was formally launched at a well attended public meeting held at the Borough Hall Godalming on 23 January 2014.  You can see the slides shown at that meeting by clicking the logo below.

Recruiting Volunteers

Immediately after the launch meeting we set about recruiting volunteers to help with preparing the Neighbourhood Plan. Over the last 2 – 3 years more than 70 volunteers have been involved in a total of six working groups covering the following themes, Housing; Transport; Environment; Economy; Community & Infrastructure and Heritage & Design. Some of our volunteers have remained with us for the whole process and continue to make a valuable contribution. The commitment has been much longer than anyone envisaged at the beginning because we did not expect Waverley Borough Council to take so long to develop its draft Local Plan.  However, with the publication of the draft Local Plan in August 2016, it has become possible to draw all the elements of the Neighbourhood Plan together for the release of a first draft in the first quarter of 2017. We remain grateful for the commitment and tenacity of all the Neighbourhood Plan volunteers who have worked with us towards shaping the future of our community.

Engaging with the Community

A key part of developing the neighbourhood plan has been giving the community the opportunity to have their say. We’ve done this in a number of ways. The “Neighbourhood Plan Roadshow” was at numerous public community events in 2014 & 2015 with a stall and activities to engage residents and their families. We’ve published regular updates in the Godalming & Villages edition of Vantage Point Magazine and sent occasional emails to everyone who expressed an interest and asked to be kept informed.

In September 2015 we sent a questionnaire to every household in the neighbourhood area – that’s some 9,300 questionnaires and made the same questionnaire available online. The response rate was a very pleasing 20%. The initial report on that questionnaire was considered in November 2015 and can be read by clicking on the logo below. Other questionnaires have been circulated to local businesses and stakeholders.

Call for Sites

Once a neighbourhood plan or order has been prepared, an independent examiner will check that it meets the right basic standards.

If the plan or order doesn’t meet the right standards, the examiner will recommend changes. The local planning authority will then need to consider the examiner’s views and decide whether to make those changes.

If the examiner recommends significant changes, then the parish or town council may decide to consult the local community again before proceeding.

Drafting the Plan

The local planning authority will be responsible for organising a referendum on a neighbourhood plan that meets the basic standards. This ensures that the community has the final say on whether a neighbourhood plan or order comes into force. 

People living in the neighbourhood who are registered to vote in local elections will be entitled to vote in the referendum.

If more than 50% of people voting in the referendum support the neighbourhood plan then the local planning authority must bring it into force.

All Godalming and Farncombe businesses are invited to complete a questionnaire on the local economy, which can be accessed by clicking on the logo below.

About the Neighbourhood Plan

Neighbourhood planning is an important part of the Government’s localism agenda and the powers and regulations relating to neighbourhood planning were enacted in the Localism Act 2011 and came into effect in April 2012. The process for developing a neighbourhood plan is a lengthy one.  The key stages are:

Stage 1: Defining the Neighbourhood

In areas with a parish or town council, the parish or town council will take the lead on neighbourhood planning and the first action required is to apply to the local planning authority  for designation of the neighbourhood area. For Godalming this means Godalming Town Council and we applied to Waverley Borough Council for the designation of the whole of the Town Council’s administrative area in March 2013. The neighbourhood area was designated on 16 July 2013.

Stage 2: Preparing the Plan

(Godalming is approaching the end of this stage and is drafting its plan.)
A neighbourhood plan must follow some basic ground rules:

  • it must generally be in line with local and national planning policies;
  • it must be in line with other laws;
  • if the local planning authority says that an area needs to grow, then communities cannot use neighbourhood planning to block the building of new homes and businesses; they can, however, use neighbourhood planning to influence the type, design, location and mix of new development;
  • neighbourhood plans must contribute to achieving sustainable development.

With a neighbourhood plan, communities are able to establish general planning policies for the development and use of land in a neighbourhood. They will be able to say, for example, where new homes and offices should be built, and what they should look like. The neighbourhood plan will set a vision for the future. It can be detailed, or general, depending on what local people want.

Stage 3: Independent Check

Once a neighbourhood plan or order has been prepared, an independent examiner will check that it meets the right basic standards.

If the plan or order doesn’t meet the right standards, the examiner will recommend changes. The local planning authority will then need to consider the examiner’s views and decide whether to make those changes.

If the examiner recommends significant changes, then the parish or town council may decide to consult the local community again before proceeding.

Stage 4: Community Referendum

The local planning authority will be responsible for organising a referendum on a neighbourhood plan that meets the basic standards. This ensures that the community has the final say on whether a neighbourhood plan or order comes into force. It is planned that the Godalming & Farncombe Neighbourhood Plan will be tested by referendum in May 2016.

People living in the neighbourhood who are registered to vote in local elections will be entitled to vote in the referendum.

If more than 50% of people voting in the referendum support the neighbourhood plan then the local planning authority must bring it into force.

Stage 5: Legal Force

Once a neighbourhood plan is in force following a successful referendum, it carries real legal weight. Decision makers are obliged to consider proposals for development in the neighbourhood against the neighbourhood plan.

We’re still working on this bit – sorry!