In December last year Upper Eden became the first neighbourhood plan to pass examination and will now move on to face a public referendum. Upper Eden’s neighbourhood plan focuses on the issues of housing, specifically affordable housing and housing for older people. The plan makes no mention of woods and trees, which of course disappoints us here at the Woodland Trust, but really what matters is that Upper Eden have shown that neighbourhood planning can be done! By sticking to the issues that matter to them this community has successfully progressed a plan further than anyone else.
The Upper Eden Neighbourhood Plan Area is a group of 17 very rural parishes in the Eden District of Cumbria. The area is one of the most sparsely populated areas of England and is of very high quality landscape. In his report John Glester (the planning consultant whom Eden District Council appointed to examine the plan) did state that the policies set by Upper Eden should not be seen as precedent setting because the area has a very specific set of local needs. This is of course true… but we believe that the plan does set a precedent, the precedent that neighbourhood planning can be done!
This is really positive news for all those groups out there who are currently grappling with the process and wondering whether it will really be worth all the hard work and expense. If you are one of these groups please do not hesitate to get in touch if you would like to talk about the value of woods and trees in neighbourhoods and the myriad benefits they bring, and how you can include them in your plan. Have a look at our neighbourhood planning micro site for more information and how to reach me.
Victoria Bankes Price, Planning Adviser