Total Spend: Heathfield Park 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.

The place

The Heathfield Park Forum covers the neighbourhoods of Heath Town, Springfield, New Park Village and Heath Park. It is one of the ten most deprived areas in Wolverhampton and is among the 5% most deprived areas nationally. The inner-city area was in desperate need of regeneration and the community realised that neighbourhood planning could be a key tool in generating necessary employment and housing.

The plan

The plan consists of 24 policies, divided into six different categories: identity and image; housing and environment; employment and skills; assets and buildings; transport and traffic and healthy living. It allows for 570 new homes to be built, with 255 having already been granted planning permission. The plan also outlines a policy specifically focused on designing-out crime. There has been a concerted effort to link spatial planning with improved service delivery and employment.

The people

The steering group was supported by Wolverhampton City council’s planning officers and the council-funded Local Neighbourhood Partnership team. The strong relationship between community and authority was central to the neighbourhood plan’s success. The forum itself had 21 named participants, with at least 12 of them actively involved throughout the three years. A member of the forum was training in planning at the same time and worked with both the forum and planning team to draft policies. Other members were local representatives with little technical expertise in planning but who knew the area and issues to be addressed very well. Most planning expertise, including the expertise needed for Heathfield Park’s housing strategy, came from the council. They also supported the team financially by distributing £12,000 of the DCLG-sponsored Frontrunner grant and commissioning the necessary pieces of evidence.  The group received a further £7,000 from Locality, under the DCLG-funded “Supporting Communities in Neighbourhood Planning” programme.

The Prince’s Foundation provided community planning support at the beginning of the neighbourhood planning process. The community organised workshops on report writing, strategic planning and design skills. The Foundation attended an event where their spatial options were presented to the community and then helped analyse the information gathered. The community found this third-party involvement to be incredibly useful as the analysis helped to identify the policy themes for the neighbourhood plan.

Planning Aid acted as a “critical friend” during the drafting of the plan. They further advised on the Statement of Community Consultation and provided a final health check before the plan was submitted to Wolverhampton City Council.

The process

In total the process lasted two years from application to referendum. The issues brought up by the steering group became the starting point for the plan. Thousands of people were involved in its development, with 1,668 people and 26 businesses responding to the initial Household Survey. The survey illustrated the wider concerns of the community and provided the basis for policy areas. Throughout 2012 there were roadshows, workshops and consultation events to encourage further community involvement. This included exhibition drop-in sessions. Volunteers contributed about three hours a week each.

Total spend

£19,500

Heathfield Park Neighbourhood Plan

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Sample of spending Amount
Sample of spending Amount Printing (including leaflets, feedback forms, copies of NP plans) £6,500
Referendum expenses, photography, monitoring plan £3,000
Room hire, refreshments, community events £1,640
Photography material and disposal cameras £630
Publicity £520
Miscellaneous costs £215