Owl simply cannot believe that in a town the size of Honiton half-a-dozen people cannot be found to join the neighbourhood planning group. People have been falling over themselves in the rush to volunteer in smaller towns and villages, many of which gave already had their plans signed, sealed and delivered.
What is wrong with the people in the town? Have they no civic pride? Do Honiton people not realise what enormous danger they are in if they DON’T have a neighbourhood plan? Everywhere in Honiton NOT named in the Local Plan (and that’s a lot of land) up for grabs by developers. Who will provide no infrastructure to the town and likely no affordable housing.
It paints a dreadful picture of a totally apathetic town with an inept town deputy clerk (who suggested shelving the project until 2020) and lazy town councillors if this situation is allowed to happen.
“Residents have been urged to ‘step up’ or face ‘losing out’ after the creation of the Honiton’s Neighbourhood Plan was granted a six-month continuation.
The warning, made by the town’s mayor, comes a month after the future of the document was thrown into doubt following a recommendation to shelve the document until 2020.
Deputy town clerk Heloise Marlow made the suggestion to town councillors based on the ‘lack of past and current’ interest from residents in getting involved with the plan’s creation.
The Honiton Neighbourhood Plan’s current committee is ‘inquorate’ – meaning it is not made up of enough members.
A report submitted to last month’s council meeting said: “A steering group made up of about nine to ten members with one-third councillors and two-thirds community members is essential. In view of the lack of past and current interest from the community of Honiton, the recommendation is that a neighbourhood plan cannot currently be delivered.”
However, at a meeting of Honiton Town Council last week, members agreed to let the creation of the town’s Neighbourhood Plan continue for the next six months.
Cllr Henry Brown, town mayor and chair of the council, said: “The Neighbourhood Plan will continue for the next six months, with the hope that the Community Engagement Forum will act as a conduit to entice members of the public to join the Neighbourhood Plan.
“The public must outnumber the council in representation on this – our community needs to step up or we face losing out.”
At last month’s council meeting, Cllr Roy Coombs staged a late intervention to save the Neighbourhood Plan from being shelved until 2020 – recommending it be deferred until last week’s council meeting at The Beehive.
He said: “If we have not got a Neighbourhood Plan in place it could, I feel, become a developers’ free-for-all.”
The Community Engagement Forum, which is comprised of various groups in Honiton, was formed in 2016 with the aim of improving the town and bringing about change.
Anyone who wants to join the Neighbourhood Plan committee should get in touch with the town council on 01404 42957 and ask to speak to Heloise.”