The Topic Group Phase of the Neighbourhood Plan officially kicked off at the weekend, with an Induction Event held at the Town Hall for all Topic Group Members. These are volunteers from the local community who will be helping to shape the Plan during this important stage.
The purpose of the Induction Event was to provide basic training on neighbourhood planning for the 43 Topic Group Members that have joined. It was also an opportunity for them to meet each other for the first time, meet Town Council Officers, and meet Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group Members.
Councillor Nick Murry, Chairman of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group opened the event. He explained how the public had helped shape the Plan’s Vision for the Town and how it would be the Topic Groups role to breathe life into this by developing an effective set of policies, with the support of the Town Council’s Planning Officer and Neighbourhood Plan Consultant.
Commenting on the event, Cllr Murry said:
“It was fantastic to see so many enthusiastic volunteers, with such wide ranging experience, getting stuck into this crucial phase of the Plan. I am looking forward to working with them.”
“I’d also like to add a big thank you to the Steering Group and its support staff, and to all the Town Councillors who’ve given up their time to get the Neighbourhood Plan to where it is. It is in my view, a shining example of local democracy in action.”
The 7 Topic Groups are: Housing; Community Infrastructure; Green Infrastructure; Town Centre; Transport; Economy; and Sustainability & Climate Change, which will be a cross cutting theme throughout the Plan.
This Topic Group phase will last for around 6 months, with each Topic Group meeting monthly, and reporting back to the Steering Group thereafter. The remit of each individual Topic Group will be to look at the gaps in current planning policy (to see where the Neighbourhood Plan can add value). They will then gather evidence to justify planning policies, and begin to draft planning policies.
The Topic Groups will be working with the Chippenham community to help further develop a shared vision for the Town. It is hoped that this will foster community spirit and empower the local community to take more ownership over what happens in their neighbourhood.