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Villagers support bid to get a grip on planning
MORE than 1,000 villagers have joined a fight to win planning power back from the Government – in a move that could one day see a community centre built.
Residents of more than 600 homes in Drayton, south of Abingdon, gave their views in a public consultation on their new neighbourhood plan.
They have called for, among other things, a new community centre and village green.
When complete, the plan will become a legal document with which housing developers must comply before they start building.
Drayton is one of about 15 towns and villages in Oxfordshire preparing their own plans.
The scheme, created with the 2011 Localism Act, gives residents the right to say how their town or village should look.
That includes dictating the materials with which houses should be built, whether each house should have bin storage and any other issues requiring planning permission.
District councils can offer thousands of pounds to help with the costs of recruiting consultants and designers for the plan.
Other Oxfordshire neighbourhoods who have embarked on their own plans include Wantage, Faringdon, Chipping Norton and several suburbs of Oxford such as Headington, Wolvercote and St Margarets.
Tom McCulloch, of the Oxfordshire Rural Community Council (ORCC), which has been advising Drayton on its plan, said: “The survey response in Drayton has far exceeded that of other communities which ORCC has been working with on neighbourhood plans.
“Over 1,000 individual replies is a fantastic level of community engagement and testament to the hard work and enthusiasm of the neighbourhood plan steering group.
“The information gathered will be invaluable as Drayton develops a vision for the future of the community, which everyone can feel they have collectively shaped.”
Drayton2020, the group leading the plan, said early indications showed strong support for an entirely new community centre and village green in the conservation area at the centre of the village.
Chairman Andrew Bax said: “This development would include some sensitively-designed housing and the prospect of greatly enhancing the amenities enjoyed by Drayton residents.”
There are also proposals for playing fields and enhanced recreational facilities.
The final plan, based on the analysis of questionnaires, is to be ratified by a village referendum in May 2014.
Wantage and Didcot MP Ed Vaizey recently visited Drayton to congratulate villagers on their involvement.
He said: “The level of response to the questionnaire is evidence the village really is behind the process. There are some really good, practical ideas coming forward, so residents are determining their own future rather than someone else doing it for them.”
s Visit drayton-near-abingdon.org/drayton2020/