Neighbourhood Planning Community Champions are Top Tip

Lynton and Lynmouth’s Neighbourhood Plan’s Community Champions have been highlighted as a top tip in a Government report.

Back in 2011/12 Lynton Town Council asked Julian and colleague James Shorten to come up with a process for developing their Neighbourhood Plan – one of the initial tranche of frontrunners.

Photo of Lynton and Lynmouth Neighbourhood Planning Community Champions

Underpinning our proposals was the principle of community engagement and making sure that the process was led by the community, not the planners.  One of the actions we proposed was to form a team of Neighbourhood Reps (later renamed Community Champions) to be the face of the process and to take the ideas into the community.  The Champions wouldn’t be councillors or people with official positions, instead they’d just be ordinary people with an interest in what the Plan could achieve.  In the end we recruited about 15 people, mostly by word of mouth.  We met with them, ran briefing sessions for them and over time crafted a team of people who became very influential in the overall shape of the plan.  And the great news is, they’ve now been given recognition by the Government.

The first piece of Government funded research into Neighbourhood Planning  “Neighbourhood Planning The rural frontrunners: research and case studies (April 2013)” has just been published and seeks to show what can be achieved, and what approaches could work or be considered elsewhere.  The research reports that most Neighbourhood Plan areas use “traditional methods such as exhibitions, leafleting, meetings, questionnaires, road shows, social media and websites”, but highlights the Lynton and Lynmouth Community Champions as a top tip for ‘spreading the word and encouraging involvement’.

You can find the report on the DEFRA website.  And more about the Lynton and Lynmouth plan at

Lynton neighbourhood plan moves forward

I was at a well attended meeting of the Neighbourhood Plan in Lynton and Lynmouth last night where we brought together the neighbourhood reps (who are doing much of the work) and the town councillors (who will eventually approve the plan).

Lots of good feedback about how the first phase consultation went – 140 responses (not bad given that there are only about 700 households) although the focus on affordable housing clearly confused some people or made them think it wasn’t relevent to them.  There was also a strong response from local businesses saying that the plan must address the need for local jobs.

We also debated the issue of second homes – they push up prices and stand empty for much of the year so can undermine the socio-economic structure of the local community.  As a result, “the town is dying” one person said, noting that the primary school will only have six children enrolling in September!  Addressing the issue of second homes will require primary legislation – but will the Government have a stomach for it? This prompted someone to speculate on how many MPs have second homes!

We now have to plan a series of workshops with the neighbourhood reps where we will really dig into the information we’ve gathered and start working up proposals for the town.  Our initial focus will be on actions i.e. what we want to achieve.  We’ll then work out what policies we need to enable the actions happen.

Nigel Kersey from DCLG came along to observe and at the end told us that we were one of the better frontrunners.  “Your’re all doing very well” he said. Nice!