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!