Information on what Village Plans are, how they are produced, and what advantages they can bring for communities.
Village Plans are a tool which we use to help understand issues in each village community, to tailor services, and to facilitate communities to address issues themselves. Each plan describes a vision for the village area, and identifies what the Council will do, and what local people can do, to achieve the vision together.
Village Plans are not statutory, and we are not obliged to prepare them.
The first round of fourteen Village Plans were compiled between 2011 and 2013. These are now being reviewed and updated.
The Village Plans are wide in scope – all of the issues are considered and passed on to the relevant services within the Council as well as partner organisations, for example Transport for London and the Police.
Issues are collected in a variety of ways including meetings with local organisations and walkabouts with residents, as well as the more formal Leader’s Question Times, drop in exhibitions and questionnaires.
The main difference between the current phase of Village Plans and those prepared in 2011 is that the current plans include formal planning guidance. In the first phase of village plans many people expressed the desire to shape planning policy in their area, so now the opportunity is being taken to boost this element of the Village Plans with a dedicated section providing Village Planning Guidance.
In planning law it is called a Supplementary Planning Document or SPD. While it has a formal legal status (unlike Village Plans generally), it is produced in a straightforward way involving the community.
Current Village Plans therefore have two elements:
We have set out a programme to review every Village Plan in the borough and produce Village Planning Guidance covering every village, with the exception of Ham and Petersham, where the community have requested, and received, the Council’s support to prepare their own plan (called a Neighbourhood Plan) for the area.
Neighbourhood Plans are produced by Neighbourhood Forums rather than the Council. One of the challenges that local communities face in preparing a Neighbourhood Plan is that it is a big undertaking to develop a plan in accordance with the legal requirements and needs the commitment of volunteers.
We did not want communities who did not have volunteers to take on this undertaking to be excluded from developing guidance for planning decisions in their area, so we identified producing Village Planning Guidance SPDs in collaboration with local communities as a way of helping.
This graphic(pdf, 44KB) explains how Village Plans and Village Planning guidance is produced.
The village areas are based on the areas that residents most identified with in the All in One survey in 2010. The boundaries are fluid and reflect how people live, for example living in one area and working or studying or enjoying leisure time in another.
Whilst the Village Plan boundaries are fluid, the Village Planning Guidance boundaries have to be definitive so it is clear which sites and streets each relates to.
As far as possible the boundaries will match what people said in the All in One survey, although sometimes there are good planning reasons why this may vary. For example, a Conservation Area may lie in more than one village area, and from a planning point of view it is best to consider the Conservation Area as a whole.
Many different techniques are used to collect the views of the community, as we are keen to reach out to people who would not normally contact their councillors or council staff, as well as those who are very involved in their community.
We include drop in exhibitions and walkabouts because some issues, such as the physical character of the area, are best illustrated in this way, and some people prefer this form of presentation.
To help us produce the Village Planning Guidance we are particularly interested in what people consider to be the local character, heritage assets and local opportunities for improvement.
In order to give Village Planning Guidance formal status the Council has to carry out additional consultation.
After engagement on the Village Plan has taken place there is further consultation on the Village Planning Guidance. It therefore takes some months to prepare Village Planning Guidance.
If we wish to alter Village Planning Guidance, we must go through the formal process again.
Once we have collected the views of the community we update the Village Plans online. Village Plans do not exist in paper form – they are web-based and regularly updated.
In order to comply with planning regulations, Village Planning Guidance is available in both hard copy and web form.
Consultation with residents identifies areas the community would like improved or changed. This information is collected and is sent to the appropriate departments, to see what is already being done, and what might be possible. From this, a range of actions are agreed to meet local needs. Sometimes it might be that we can do something directly to address an issue; other times it might be most appropriate for the us to work with local partners or the community to address an issue. Either way, the aim is to develop a number of action points, which are then recorded online.
The information raised by residents is also kept on the website. This represents a store of community opinion that can help to guide future action by council services and community organisations. This takes place by providing evidence of the key issues local residents face, and what local communities would like to see more of.
Finally, Village Plans can provide an impetus for community action. Consultations encourage local people to think about how they would like to improve their communities. This in turn can encourage people to consider what they can do, and also brings a range of different people and groups within the community together. In the past this has inspired a range of different community projects, which have made communities more vibrant and active.
Village Planning Guidance (Supplementary Planning Documents) have to refer to a defined physical area, in order to comply with the law. These documents cannot change national planning rules or planning policy as set out in, for example, the National Planning Policy Guidance, the London Plan or Richmond’s own Local Plan. But they can flesh out the policy and explain how it will apply.
Many local and national planning policies refer to the existing character of an area. Village Planning Guidance can usefully describe what the character of individual, small parts of the borough is like, for example specific housing estates with a particular character, or shopping areas, and what features should be retained and what opportunities there are to improve the area.
In some villages the Village Planning Guidance may identify potential extensions to existing Conservation Areas, or areas which might be suitable to become new Conservation Areas. Every part of a village is covered in Village Planning Guidance.
This can be helpful for:
Village Planning Guidance can also be used by the Council to defend its decisions when applicants appeal against the refusal of planning permission.
Comments made as part of the Village Planning Guidance process cannot change existing national or local planning policy. However, we are working on a review of our Local Plan.
Any comments which are relevant to how local policy might change in future are passed on to the Planning Policy Team so they can take them into account when preparing the new Local Plan.
Updated: 12 May 2017