Key aspects of the neighbourhood plan are the:
- vision of how we would like Wellow to be in 15 years’ time,
- key themes that need to be addressed in the plan
- objectives that need to be met by the plan
- policies that give substance to the plan’s vision and objectives
At the start of the process of formulating a vision, key themes, objectives and policies we conducted a major survey of all households in Wellow Parish in late 2018, some 1400 or so households.
Leaflets were hand-delivered to each property and where possible the residents spoken to. Returns could be either online or via paper form. We received 599 responses – a very good result – representing approximately 40% of households.
In summary, we discovered from the survey that:
- What people liked and valued most about living in Wellow were the rural aspect and access to the countryside, friendly local community, the New Forest, peace and tranquillity and good road links and proximity to local towns.
- They disliked the noise and volume of traffic on the A36, pollution and difficulties of access, heavy and speeding traffic on our lanes, poor public transport, creeping urbanisation – pressure from developers – too much infilling of gardens and lack of safe footpaths and areas for walking.
- In planning new developments, almost all respondents said that the rural aspect of the Parish, its landscape and natural environment must be maintained.
- Strong preference was for small developments of various types with not with more than ten houses.
- The preferred locations for developments were (i) on previously built-over land – “brownfield” land, (ii) within the existing designated settlement areas (iii) contiguous with, or in close proximity to, the existing settlements (63%). Only single houses, or at most, small developments should be built away from such locations. Building in the gardens of existing houses was only supported by about third of respondents.
- Moving house – just under half the respondents were thinking of moving house at some time, of these nearly three-quarters said that they would like to move within the Parish.
- Main concerns about further development – were increased traffic and impact on road safety, loss of countryside and natural habitat, loss of the rural aspect of the Parish, in-fill of houses, loss of green spaces and only satisfying the expensive end of the housing market.
- Local businesses – three-quarters agreed that more employment and job opportunities should be created in the Parish and that Wellow benefits from a thriving local economy which should be able to develop further in the Parish. A similar percentage agreed the conversion of existing agricultural buildings and the construction of new buildings should be encouraged for business development.
- Roads and transport including footpaths – for most the car is the main way of travelling in the Parish and beyond. Most were satisfied with Parish roads and existing speed limits but only a third were satisfied with adherence to speed limits. Only a quarter were satisfied or very satisfied with the existing bus services which would have to improve a great deal before more people use the services. The vast majority agreed or strongly agreed that new footpaths should be proposed for the village.
- Local facilities – the ones that we used the most were the local shops, the Post Office (now closed), the pharmacy, local pubs, local footpaths, the Common and the village hall. The facilities that we would like to have include medical services, better parking and a café.
The results of this survey enabled us to form a vision of the sort of place residents wanted to live in and how they would like to see it develop. We were also able to identify some key themes and begin to formulate the objectives for the plan.
The following is the draft vision statement that the team arrived at based on the survey.
In 2035 Wellow Parish will be a thriving, safe, sustainable, and friendly community retaining a village feel. The close relationship with the New Forest National Park will be respected and cherished.
It will have maintained and enhanced its rural character whilst absorbing some further housing development.
These small sustainable developments will have been designed to be sympathetic to the surrounding countryside and provide for a balance of dwelling types specifically designed to meet local needs. Green spaces will have been preserved between developments.
The local economy will be supported through the facilitation of modest business growth where appropriate to the rural setting.
Community facilities will have expanded and become more varied to meet changing local needs.
The sense of community will be strengthened through improved interconnectivity between its main areas of settlement.
This will have been achieved primarily through the development of a network of safe pedestrian, cycle and equestrian routes.
Key themes and objectives
The key themes and objectives for realising the vision were:
- Conserving and enhancing biodiversity, the rural character and natural landscape of the Parish
- Meeting the housing needs whilst endeavouring to maintain a sustainable level of amenities and facilities for all residents of the Parish from younger families and the next generation through to the increasing number of older residents
- Enabling appropriate development in sustainable locations, such that these do not detract from the character, landscape and setting of the Parish
- Having a balance of house types and sizes reflecting the local need
- Improving the built environment and minimising the impact on the natural environment
The policies that emerged from the key themes and objectives are grouped under a number of headings relating to the objectives.
- Sustainable development
- Statement of Housing Need
- Dwelling Extensions
- Replacement dwellings
- Infill and Redevelopment
- Rural Housing and Seasonal Workers Accommodation
- Sites Allocated for Affordable Housing Development
The Countryside and the Natural Environment
- Settlement Character
- The River Blackwater
- Green Infrastructure
- Local Green Spaces
- Renewable Energy
- Important Views
- Equestrian Facilities
- Conversion of Rural Buildings
- Dark Night Skies
Flooding and Drainage
- Flooding and Drainage
- Design and Access Statements
- Design and Heritage
- Special Character Areas
- Pre-application Requirements
- West Wellow Village Centre Improvements
- Infrastructure / Community Aspirations
Local Business and Employment
- Employment Development
- Rural Economy
Transport and Highways
- Accessibility, Road Safety and Sustainable Transport