Total Spend: Broughton Astley’s Plan
How much does it actually cost to create a neighbourhood plan? Total Spend is a series of case studies that investigate neighbourhood plans and how much was spent.
Broughton Astley is a thriving community in Harborough, southwest Leicestershire. Despite a number of housing developments being made over the years, there have been limited improvements to retail space and infrastructure in general. Furthermore, with a population of over 10,000 people, the majority of employment is found outside the village. Being a larger parish with a parish council already operating, neighbourhood planning provided community members with an opportunity to address long-standing issues such as the lack of infrastructure and employment in addition to the need for housing.
The plan’s primary aim is to meet the needs of a growing population, whilst preserving the environment and expanding the local economy. The plan comprises 13 policies with a particular focus on the development of new infrastructure, including building a supermarket, leisure centre and doctor’s surgery. It is also concerned with creating employment. The plan allocates sites for at least 500 homes to be built over a 15-year period.
The Steering Group was made up of 10 local representatives, including six parish councillors and a retired architect. The development of the plan was a community effort as the group drew upon their available skillsets and resources. This helped to mitigate cost, with the group saving around £2,000 through in-kind support. In addition to the architect, one member worked in communications and was skilled in marketing. Another was an English teacher who helped proof read the plans. The Chairman was a project manager adept at time managing the process. A local graphic designer took interest in the project and charged a nominal fee for designing all versions of the plan, as well as posters for publicity. A parallel group for the leisure centre was also formed by people from local sports clubs.
The steering group did not operate alone. Harborough District Council was very supportive. In addition to distributing the £20,000 DCLG Frontrunner grant, they provided necessary environmental evidence and legal assistance when necessary. Furthermore, the Harborough District Council Planning Policy Team assisted with the wording of the plan’s policies and the Basic Conditions Statement.
Planning Aid played an integral role in the neighbourhood planning process in providing essential training. They held two preparatory sessions for the group including one on policy writing. A Planning Aid volunteer also helped assess potential sites for new housing.
In total the process lasted 18 months from the application to designate the neighbourhood area to referendum. The size of the parish was helpful because there were funds and resources readily available from the parish council. Eight meetings were held in-house, at the library and at the local community college, and at every stage of the plan a static exhibition was held in the library at no cost. Updates were communicated through the council-maintained website. The Rural Community Council also created additional pages for a small fee. Leaflets were distributed to engage with the community at each stage. This heavily increased costs as 3,000 leaflets were distributed each time. Volunteers collectively contributed about 11 hours a week. Over 18 months, this can be estimated at around 900 hours as members sometimes gave up extra time to attend consultation evenings or assist with MP visits.
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|Sample of spending||Amount|
|Project planning advice and graphic design||£6,500|
|Rural Community Council (support with consultation events, design and analysis of two surveys and website)||£3,000|
|Printing and distribution||£1,640|
|Advertising in newspapers||£630|
|Environmental data from Leicestershire County Council||£215|