Skip to main content

The Penzance plan starts here, with myself on the board!

This is of course the neighbourhood plan for Penzance, more properly and in the words of a former Cornwall Council planner (Andy England) the process of 'planning for a plan' is well and truly in the offing. Last night at the town council I was elected onto the Penzance Neighbourhood Plan Board. Regular readers of the blog will now I have written on this subject before, back in October last year Should Penzance create a Neighbourhood Development Plan? I think it gives my initial views on the process and also some of the limitations I think it holds. For a more generic description try this from the DCLG.

Briefly a Neighbourhood Plan (NP) guides and informs planning decisions for the length of the plan (typically 20 years). Within the constraints of planning law (i.e. the National Planning Policy Framework) and the local plan (currently being devised by Cornwall Council). Unlike those policies that have already decided crucial matters like number of houses the NP will have the constraint and the advantage of being borne from the community. Although Penzance Town Council has started this process and will work with others it is not our plan, it is the communities plan. The whole process is punctuated by public consultations and then at the end a public referendum. There is a lot of talk about localism at the moment and giving local communities the say on key decisions, the Neighbourhood Plan is one of the few examples of this happening.

I think it would be very easy to underestimate the scale and importance of this task. Simple old fashioned public consultations won't cut it, listening only to consultants or solely to those that shout loudest could mean the plan will be doomed to failure at referendum, it is imperative the vast majority of the public are involved in the process. So it will be a great deal of work but will be better for it.

Policies outlined in Penzance's plan will become planning law. I'm sure any of us could look around the town (or indeed anywhere else) and see planning decisions that for better or worse have changed the fundamental nature of the place. For example, what if planners had never allowed the harbour to be filled in for a car park? what if your local park or green space had been built upon? It's easy to see planning policies as words on a piece of paper but the decisions taken in the plan will help shape the future of our community. I know many of you will be reading this well aware of planning policies you do and don't like, but I do hope there are others reading this now (and in the future of the process) that will think about how planning effects themselves and their neighbourhoods and what they'd like to see from it.

So what is the board? Well firstly it has been named the Penzance Neighbourhood Plan Board and its job is Governance and Management of the NP process. To be more exact:

"Establishing an appropriate governance and management structure - The Penzance Neighbourhood Plan Board (PNPB) and a Project Manager - is critical to the success of the NP. The PNPB will oversee the NP's development, dissemination and community consultation and ensure that the process complies with its statutory duties."

The first task of the PNPB will be to make an application to central government for grant funding for the first stage. From there it is imperative to create a communication and engagement strategy and start the long process of getting people involved in the decisions!

I don't have a great deal left to say at this point. This is a huge task and it will go on for a long time and I'm not even sure how long that will be. I've a lot to learn about a lot of things which really excites me. I'm really looking forward to the challenge and all that is left to say is a thank you to my fellow town councillors that showed faith in me and voted me on to the board. I hope I live up to the expectations.

Popular posts from this blog

The 3 actions Penzance Town Centre needs from Cornwall Council

My name is Rob Simmons and I'm a candidate for Penzance East in this Thursdays Cornwall Council election and these are my 3 priorities for our town centre:  1 Action on reducing Parking Fees  2 Action on unfair business rates 3 Action on empty shops and buildings.  I firmly believe that Cornwall Council ought to do more to support Penzance Town Centre and these 3 changes would be a massive leap forward.

1.Action on Parking Fees, Penzance has some of the highest parking fees in Cornwall, we all know that it puts people off coming to town and crucially shoppers from staying for longer periods. With out of town retail parks popping up everywhere and the lure and convenience of the internet our town centre needs help. Cornwall Council must do it's part in supporting the town centre. Penzance needs a Cornwall Councillor that will lobby to change this and find a solution that benefits us and stops CC seeing Penzance as a way of making money. We need to see a major overhaul of parking…

A breath of fresh air at Penzance Town Council

The election has certainly rung a great many changes at Penzance Town Council. There are now 12 brand new councillors (although Simon Reed has been on the council before). Between retirements and not getting re-elected not a single mayor that served between 2013-2017 is now on the council and only 1 that served as deputy mayor in that time are still on the council. A number of former mayors, deputy mayors and chairs and vice chairs of committees are also no longer with the council. Or to put it another way many of the active town councillors that formed the approach and policies of the town council in the past are no longer there pulling the strings.

When I was first elected back in 2013 there was a feeling that (long overdue) change had been brought to the council, that those new people elected had brought change. That was the feeling with 8 new councillors elected and 12 of the existing councillors being re-elected. This time around there are 12 new councillors and only 8 from befo…

Cornwall LEP announces public consultations (at last)

So here we are 12 months and 17 days since the LEP bid was announced as successful by the coalition government and the LEP has announced public consultations. Only a day after I blogged criticising the LEP for a lack of discernible action such as consultations. So I was pleased to read of the roadshows being announced on the Business Cornwall newsite, as much as I have criticisms of the LEP particularly their lack of action, I do believe people should turn up listen to what they have to say and give feedback, criticisms and forward their own ideas (list of venues copied below). As much as the MK member in me wants to make party political points about the coalition and their poor economic record in Cornwall, we need the LEP to work for the sake of the Cornish economy and it is imperative upon both the businesses of Cornwall and the public to engage with the LEP and influence it. In particular here the public, despite being funded by taxpayers we have had no say in who should be on the…