The Sutton Poyntz plan, ‘made’ on 5 May 2020, is set to be eventually subsumed into a new neighbourhood plan for Weymouth, the Dorset town which it adjoins. This follows Weymouth Town Council voting in favour of preparing one neighbourhood plan for the entire town.
As part of the local government reorganisation on 1 April 2019, the new unitary Dorset Council took over the responsibilities of the former Weymouth and Portland Borough Council. At the same time, Weymouth Town Council was established, taking over over neighbourhood plan responsibilities for the whole area including Sutton Poyntz, and the Sutton Poyntz neighbourhood forum officially ceased to exist.
Weymouth Town Council applied for a new neighbourhood area – which included Sutton Poyntz – as the first step to developing a neighbourhood plan. If two neighbourhood areas overlap, the local authority responsible can decide which boundary is most appropriate. Dorset Council approved the town council’s request in July. However, until the new Weymouth neighbourhood plan is made, the current Sutton Poyntz strategy will remain in force.
The councillors responsible for the application said that one plan for the entire area would make it easier to apply for grants that support the whole town.
Dorset Council has given assurances that the Sutton Poyntz neighbourhood plan will be “respected and included” within the new plan.
A Dorset Council representative told Planning: “There will be challenges making sure that Sutton Poyntz residents are fully involved in the preparation of the Weymouth plan, but we would hope that, in effect, the proposals within the Sutton Poyntz plan will be carried forward into the Weymouth plan.”
“The Sutton Poyntz Neighbourhood Plan took long and dedicated work by volunteers and residents in the village,” added Lucy Hamilton, chair, planning and licensing at Weymouth Town Council.
“We’ve met with representatives to learn from their experience and to talk about the next steps. The challenge is to engage effectively, across a large area.”
The Dorset and Weymouth Town councillor representing Sutton Poyntz, Tony Ferrari, told Planning that he wants the existing Sutton Poyntz Neighbourhood Plan to be carried forward into the developing plan unchanged.
“I have argued in Sutton Poyntz that, with our experience, we should offer as much support as we can to Weymouth, to help develop the best plan we can for the whole town,” he said.
“The interesting legal question is what happens to a pre-existing plan when a new plan is produced for the same area. We are unable to find a clear legal determination on the status of the old plan.”
He said the policies in the Sutton Poyntz Neighbourhood Plan “were developed by people who know the area best and the people of the rest of Weymouth should do the same for their own areas. The plan should be a consolidation of local expertise not enforced on anyone."
Peter Dye, chair of the Sutton Poyntz Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group, said that its plan had taken nearly five years to bring to referendum, where it received over 80 per cent support from the community on a 50 per cent turnout.
“I believe that Weymouth will benefit from the neighbourhood planning process, but with a population of some 52,000 and an area of 25 square kilometres, it will be one of the largest neighbourhood areas in England”. He said that the only neighbourhood plan area that might be larger was in Bracknell.
“Exactly how Weymouth will create a neighbourhood plan and how long it will take to come to referendum is not yet clear. If Bracknell is a yardstick, the process will be complex.
“Sutton Poyntz is distinct as a rural village within a major town, but not separate from Weymouth and benefits immensely from the relationship. For the present, we are keen to share our knowledge of the process with Weymouth Town Council and help them engage effectively with the community to develop an effective neighbourhood plan for our town.”
Correction: This article was amended at 12pm on 12 August 2020 to make clear that the current Sutton Poyntz Neighbourhood Plan has not been "scrapped", as stated in an earlier version of this story, and remains in force until a new neighbourhood plan for the wider town is made.
NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN UPDATES
Dorset: Charmouth Parish Council has published its pre-submission draft neighbourhood plan for a consultation between 31 July 2020 and 11 September 2020.
Northumberland: Alnmouth Parish Council has published its pre-submission draft neighbourhood plan for a consultation between 20 July 2020 and 16 September 2020.
London: Spitalfields Neighbourhood Forum has published its pre-submission draft neighbourhood plan for a consultation that takes place between 20 July 2020 and 14 September 2020.
Hertfordshire: The Sele neighbourhood development plan has been submitted to East Hertfordshire District Council. The draft plan has been submitted to the council by the Hertford Town Council, and will be subject to a consultation between 16 July 2020 and 10 September 2020.
Kent: The Marden neighbourhood development plan was made part of Maidstone Borough Council's local development framework on 15 July 2020.