Winchelsea Town Plan
The Winchelsea Town Plan is a type of Parish Plan, also known as a Local Action Plan, except that it covers only Winchelsea, which is one of the four wards of the Civil Parish of Icklesham. The other wards have only recently shown interest in a Parish Plan.
What is a Parish Plan?
Parish Plans were introduced in the Rural White Paper of 2000 and were intended to be a means for local communities to take more control of their lives by setting out a vision of how they want to develop and identifying the actions needed to achieve the vision, both actions by the community itself and actions to be implemented by other organisations. Parish Plans can include any social, economic and environmental issues that the people who live or work in a community think are relevant to them.
Parish Plans must be based on consultation with all sections of the community, not just those traditionally involved in local affairs, and must make special efforts to include those who do not usually involve themselves in local affairs. In order to ensure that Parish Plans are truly consultative, they are not managed by Parish Councils, but Steering Committees elected by the local community.
Parish Plans must also be prepared with the co-operation and advice of everyone outside the community who has an impact on what goes on in the community and needs to be influenced. The most important external decision-makers for most communities are the prinicpal local authorities, ie the District and County Councils. Parish Plans feed into the Community Strategies that local authorities are now required to draw up at regional, county and district levels to improve the social, economic and environmental well-being of their areas of responsibility.
Local communities are often most concerned with planning, both general land use plans and their approach to individual planning applications. Parish Plans can influence planning, in particular, by producing a Visual Design Statement. This document is the only non-statutory document that can be considered in planning decisions.
Parish Plans are not intended to be self-contained exercises, but among other things, they can be used to help secure funding for local projects. Organisations offering grants to rural communities may want to see written evidence of need, community consultation and plans for implementing the project. Parish Plans can be used to provide this information in the funding bid.
The Winchelsea Town Plan
The decision to undertake a Parish Plan was proposed and adopted at the Winchelsea Town Meeting in May 2003 and confirmed in May 2004. The inaugural meeting of the Town Plan was held on 5th June 2004, when a Steering Committee was elected. A horizon of 18-24 months was fixed as the target for completion.
Subsequently, Working Groups were set up to deal with what were felt to be key areas of concern for Winchelsea:
- Townscape & landscape --- planning and conservation, drafting a Visual Design Statement, preserving the Town’s treescape and verges, reducing street furniture.
- Traffic & transport --- traffic problems.
- Youth & recreation --- providing youth and recreational facilities.
- Business & tourism --- promoting sustainable tourism, supporting local businesses
- Community --- preserving local services, reducing nuisances such as inconsiderate bonfires, helping the vulnerable and so on.
The Steering Committee has been successful in securing funding from Awards for All and has hired a local consultant to help design and run a full-scale community consultation exercise in the autumn.
All Town Plan meetings are advertised on the noticeboard outside the Little Shop and on this website, as well as being publicised in the Village Voice column for Winchelsea in the Rye Observer. All documents produced by the Steering Committee and Working Groups, including the minutes of meetings, are lodged in the Winchelsea Community Office and posted on this website, as is a summary of the finances of the Town Plan.
The success of the Town Plan depends on community involvement. Every resident and every non-resident who works in Winchelsea is encouraged to participate in the work of the Steering Committee and Working Groups. It is particularly important that all residents make their views known in the consultation exercises that are being organised under the Town Plan. Don’t be shy. This is a unique opportunity to preserve what is so good about Winchelsea and enhance the quality of life in the Town.
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