It is now nearly nine months since we embarked on the process to develop a Village Plan for Hardwick. The Village Plan Steering Committee is pleased to provide an update on progress to the 2016 Annual Parish Meeting.
Looking back, we are pleased by what has been achieved. Looking forward, we recognise the amount of work remaining. Some Villagers have suggested that Hardwick should instead focus its efforts on developing a Neighbourhood rather than a Village Plan.
The Parish Council endorsed the development of a Village Plan at its August 2015 meeting. Over the following six weeks a few residents and interested parties held a number of informal meetings and discussed the first steps along the road to a plan.
Amongst the early actions were the launch of a dedicated website supported by postings on Facebook and Streetlife. It was also decided to hold a Public Meeting to spread the word around the Village.
Approximately 50 residents attended the Public Meeting. The event was used to inform attendees of what was involved in Village Planning. The meeting provided an opportunity for attendees to identify the positives in Hardwick, the issues that need to be addressed and to volunteer to help.
During this period, the Parish Council approved £1,000 of seed corn funding. Without this support, it would not have been possible to hold the Public Meeting nor to produce some general purpose publicity material etc. The HVP Steering Committee thanks the Parish Council for its financial support and encouragement.
Since the Public Meeting in October, the Committee has formalised its work with Terms of Reference and a finance policy, has further engaged with the Community at events, through its website and via Social Media. More than 120 residents have returned contact forms, the vast majority expressing support for the Village Plan. Most recently a Village Plan timeline has been generated and the proposed list of topics that the plan should consider has been published on-line. So far, just over £350 of the seed corn funding has been spent.
Recently, the steering committee has been bolstered by District Councillor Chamberlin and Parish Councillor Joslin attending in observer/liaison roles and by Tim Dodd volunteering and subsequently being co-opted on to the committee.
Completing the Village Plan, as originally envisioned is expected to take a further 18 to 20 months. Although the budget is still being developed, it is anticipated that funding of approximately £3,200 will be required. The majority of this expenditure is associated with the production and distribution of surveys and the finished report to the 1,000+ households in the Hardwick Parish.
The Village Plan group recognises that there is interest in developing a Neighbourhood Plan for Hardwick. The decision to opt for a Neighbourhood plan is for the Parish Council alone. The Village Plan has insufficient resources or tangible support to be able to do anything beyond sharing aspects of its findings and recommendations with the body tasked by the PC with the preparation of a Neighbourhood Plan.
• The Village Plan was endorsed by the Parish Council in August and by a Public Meeting in October 2015.
• A timeline has been produced. It is hoped to complete the task by December 2017
• Options for accelerating Plan development have been considered, but most would additional funds.
• There is interest from some residents in the possibility of developing a Neighbourhood Plan for Hardwick.