Ten years since the first neighbourhood plans were made, we’re celebrating what neighbourhood planning can achieve with our series of case studies, starting with the Uppingham Neighbourhood Plan.
Locals in the market town of Uppingham, Rutland, knew the area needed new homes, but they also wanted better infrastructure and protections for the town’s heritage. So they set up a neighbourhood planning group to ensure they had a role in deciding what was built.
Residents wanted to improve community spirit, health and safety and strengthen community services, particularly for vulnerable, disadvantaged and disabled people. They also hoped that development would attract new investment to the town from both the public and private sectors, and create new jobs for locals.
What did the neighbourhood plan achieve?
The plan has led to a new, well-designed development, including affordable homes – designed as a cluster incorporating green space, as specified in the neighbourhood plan.
The neighbourhood planning group organised a roundtable meeting with the developers, Bloor Homes, early in the process. This ensured real collaboration from the beginning.
“We realised that one of the powers of neighbourhood planning was to negotiate,” explains Cllr Ron Simpson BEM.
Negotiations with the landowner and developer led to a big impact on the density and layout of the site. The group and landowner agreed that two-thirds of the site could be used for housing, on the condition that the last third was reserved for a community green space, allocated in the section 106 agreement.
Thanks to the Neighbourhood Plan, over 100 new homes have been built in the Elms. Thirty of these new houses are affordable homes. The green space secured by the group provides a sense of community to the estate. There is also a play area for young children and families to enjoy.
“It’s likely that none of this would have happened without a Neighbourhood Plan in place."Cllr Ron Simpson
The developers, Bloor, committed over £1.2 million towards the local area: almost £1.1 million towards community infrastructure (from the Community Infrastructure Levy) and over £193,000 towards Highway Improvements in addition to the Gifted Recreational Land. £31,581 from the Town Council’s 25% share of the Community Infrastructure Levy was used to improve the community’s facilities at Tod’s Piece, the central green area in Uppingham.
The group has since formed a residents’ association for the new development, who are now involved in the neighbourhood planning process. This led to more engagement and participation of the community, who can feel a sense of pride and ownership in the development. A joint working group of community organisations is now working together with the whole community of 5,000 people and Uppingham Town Council to update the plan.
“It’s likely that none of this would have happened without a Neighbourhood Plan in place,” says Cllr Simpson. “Having a made Neighbourhood plan ensures that the community’s needs are met in a strategic and organised way in consultation with all relevant parties.”