HVS PLANNING GUIDELINES - MAY 2021
“The Object of the Society shall be to preserve and enhance the character of the village of Hurst as a living community.” Among the aims shall be; “to protect the physical character and rural environment” and “to promote the use of the amenities of the village”.
Hurst Village Society (HVS) whilst not a Statutory Consultee in the formal Planning Process, will take every opportunity to make comments and raise issues with the Planning Authority (Wokingham Borough Council) in respect of those planning applications that affect our local community. In so doing the Committee is mindful that it needs to properly reflect the views and or concerns of the majority of the Society’s membership and fully explain any position taken to those individual members who are not necessarily in agreement with the approach taken.
Planning, despite successive Governments’ commitments to make it a more “transparent and consistent process” remains a seemingly complex and often controversial process. Yet at the very core of the decision making process is a simple rule that must be adhered to, and that is “Every individual planning application must be considered on it’s merits” albeit in relation to a number of both national and local planning policies and material planning considerations.
The Committee considers that the Society can best support the membership of the Society (having regard to it’s available resources) by taking a more holistic view in respect of planning applications and always to frame our responses so that they promote the object of the society “to preserve and enhance the character of the Parish of Hurst as a living community”.
This should not be interpreted that the Society will automatically object to all future development proposals. In looking to safeguard and enhance the long term viability and vitality of the village, it would be realistic for the Society to consider that a degree of development is both necessary and inevitable. In such a scenario the role of the Society is to identify and assist in maximising any opportunities, whilst mitigating the adverse impact of any such development proposals.
The Society is a voluntary organisation and does not have the resources to become the main focal point for all planning matters within the Parish of St. Nicholas Hurst; that remains the responsibility of The Parish Council, as the Statutory Consultee, with whom HVS will always seek to engage with on the most contentious applications, whilst still maintaining a “freedom” to express our own views.
In order to achieve a level of involvement in local planning issues, and to voice concerns, or to welcome and or promote opportunities, to the satisfaction of the Committee, and the majority of the members of HVS, the following guidelines clarify the approach that will be taken, so as to ensure a consistency having regard to our limited resources;
The HVS Committee’s response will always have proper regard to both National and Local Planning Policies, and will seek to accurately reflect the intentions of such documents as the National Planning Policy Framework and Wokingham Borough Core Strategy policies.
The HVS Committee will always actively support the concept of “Planning Balance” if the potential advantages of an application outweigh any adverse impact even if the application is initially seen as being contrary to such policies as referred to above.
The HVS Committee will seek to take the “emotion” out of what might appear to be a contentious application and confine ourselves to “material planning considerations”. This will enhance our reputation, and will guarantee a consistent approach.
Whilst keeping a “watching brief” as far as possible on all applications within the Parish, the HVS Committee will only seek to investigate and make formal responses on “major planning applications” That is not to say that if approached on neighbour disputes we would still seek to offer advice and direct them to the appropriate bodies.
The HVS Committee will seek to actively engage with all potential developers and applicants in order to get a full understanding of any development and see if any compromises can be achieved before making any comments on the merits or otherwise of the development.
The HVS Committee will also engage with the Local Planning Authority for any clarification that might be required and similarly the Parish Council. In all such discussions the HVS Committee or any individual acting on it’s behalf will be courteous and polite and any comments we make public will be truthful and recognise individuals rights to have a different opinion to our own.
In addition, the HVS Committee needs;
to properly understand from WBC what their priorities are for using monies from any S106 / CIL contributions linked with any major applications so that we can lobby that these will benefit our local community.
to work to ensure improvements to the local infrastructure where necessary take place before development commences or are phased as part of any planning conditions attached to any approval.
to be seen to actively promote appropriate mixed development including business or commercial which will benefit the village economy.