Around 220 people visited the Bengeo Neighbourhood Plan Exhibition and Community Consultation at Mill Mead School on Saturday the 23rd of March and Sunday 24th March. This better than expected turnout reflects the deep interest in the community about the neighbourhood plan and worries about the issues that affect the community.
Steering Group Chairperson John Howson said: “It is very encouraging that so many people came along for the community consultation. It is really important that people express their views so that we can reflect these in the plan. The next stage will be the production of a draft plan, after that people will have another chance to have their say”.
Not surprisingly perhaps, the issues of transport and travel attracted the most interest. We asked all visitors to return feedback forms for comments and to let us know whether they agreed or disagreed with policies. We received 217 completed forms, these contained 756 comments of which 273 or 36% were in response to sustainable travel policies. The key issues on transport were ‘the rat run’ and parking. Visitors were generally supportive of efforts to increase walking and cycling in the area, though concerns over the busyness of roads and safe cycling spaces were expressed. It was also pointed out that cycling up and down Port Hill is off-putting for some residents.
On Natural Environment and Green Spaces we received 171 comments in all the vast majority of which were positive. This was a very pleasing outcome and shows that our Working Group has wide community support. Only a handful of comments to the suggested Local Green Space designation raised objections (generally around land being suitable for other uses).
Community and culture received 105 comments which were mainly very positive and supportive. Protecting local built assets, protected buildings, the arts hub and allotments were common themes. The water tower continues to divide opinion as most people see it as worthy of preservation while others mention it as an eyesore.
Homes and development drew 142 comments, while there were clearly differences of views on brownfield space, most comments on the suggested policies appeared to be positive. Common themes were the need for sustainable homes, adequate space and parking, the need for affordable homes and that new developments should respect the character of the area. Several people objected directly to the development at HERT4.
There were 45 comments on the theme of Business, the vast majority of which were supportive and positive.
We are revising the plan in the light of this feedback and the amended document will be available for comment later in the year.
We would like to thank everybody who took part to make this such a great success!
Links to pdfs of the display are below.