Neighbourhood Plan Update: Volunteers needed to help protect our green spaces
Charlbury's green spaces are an important part of the town's beauty and tranquility, and contribute greatly to its character. Some provide places for walking, playing and sport, and others may be havens for wildlife or have historical significance. We want to give special protection to these green spaces through the Charlbury Neighbourhood Development Plan so that they can be enjoyed by future generations.
Local Green Space designation is a way to provide special protection against development for green areas of particular importance to local communities.
Following the town survey and consultation on Charlbury.info, we have drawn up a list of sites that may meet the criteria (set by the Government) to be formally designated as "Local Green Space". The list is available at www.charlburyneighbourhoodforum.org.uk/?page_id=466
and includes play areas, nature reserves, woodland and open land.
We need volunteers to help us carry out assessments of the sites so that we can go ahead with Local Green Space designation. The work will take place in January and February, with volunteers working in small groups. No special expertise is required, and the work can be carried out at times that suit the volunteers. Each group will be supported by one or more members of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group.
A workshop will be held for potential volunteers on Thursday 11 January at 7:30 pm in the Green Room of the Memorial Hall. Please come along to learn more! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest and to ask any questions.
The housing question
Work is continuing on a Neighbourhood Development Plan for Charlbury. The biggest question is housing: how much the town needs, where it should go and the size and type. A report is underway looking at local housing needs. This will provide evidence on the affordability problem in Charlbury as well as the need for specialist housing for elderly or disabled residents.
In the spring, we invited landowners and developers to come forward with proposals for development sites. We received two responses, which will be considered once we have a better understanding of the scale of housing needed. You may wonder why we are looking for development sites. This is because West Oxfordshire's Local Plan will require a certain amount of new development within our area. If we can identify our preferred sites for future development in the Neighbourhood Plan, this will give us more control over its location and of the mix of housing to be built on the site. If we do not do this, we will be reliant on sites put forward by developers which might not meet the needs of the town and may not be well located.
Preserving Charlbury's Character
Protecting Charlbury's heritage and character is a priority for the Neighbourhood Plan. This is why we are carrying out a "character assessment" of the town. A team of 24 volunteers are, between them, visiting every street and green space in the parish. Their assessment will include the buildings, spaces, views and greenery.
Some volunteers have specialist skills in architecture, heritage conservation or local history, whereas others have no particular experience and are learning "on the job". Their work will be drawn together into a single report providing an assessment of Charlbury as seen by local people. This will be used to produce policies to protect and enhance the town's character. For example, these could be to ensure new development fits the character of the town, important features are preserved and valued views are protected. Results should be available in January.
The Neighbourhood Development Plan Steering Group