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Burghclere Achieving Rural Resilience

The Parish Council decided to prepare a neighbourhood plan in November 2017 with the encouragement of Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council to local communities across the Borough to prepare neighbourhood plans. The key driver of this decision was a sense of wanting to plan positively for the future of the village and the Parish as a whole.

The neighbourhood plan scope included meeting local housing need in such a way which also delivered wider community benefits. Due to the wider implications of providing more homes in a rural location this would be in the form of a Community Hub for the village. Community hubs are projects combining small local housing schemes for downsizers, entry-level, affordable and custom build with other community assets which might include: workspace, space for meeting/event/health drop in, a shop/delivery drop off service, café/licensed public bar, and electric vehicles and charging infrastructure for community energy groups/cooperatives.

Whilst the innovative work of the Burghclere Neighbourhood Plan was proceeding well, a planning application was submitted for 35 dwellings in the village on a site that was not allocated in the neighbourhood plan. The application was refused but went to appeal. Although there was a cumulative weight of adverse impacts outweighing the benefits of the scheme the high probability that the Burghclere Neighbourhood Plan would be derailed at the referendum stage and the effect such a decision would have on the future confidence of the parish in neighbourhood planning carried very significant weight and the appeal was dismissed.

Appeal decisions such as these should encourage neighbourhood plan groups that a positively prepared neighbourhood plan can, and should, still protect communities from speculative developments.