The Newport Pagnell Neighbourhood Planning group in Milton Keynes wanted to develop community infrastructure to create a health centre and a new school. Through their plan, they were able to treble the number of new dwellings that was proposed in the original core strategy and specify that a developer building on a large housing site must set aside land and money towards new schools, as well as, a local shopping centre linked with a health facility. The new community infrastructure has helped overcome inadequacies in current health service provision and ease pressure on local primary schools.
Challenges and priorities for the town
The town has a population of 16,000 and is steeped in history, dating back to the Roman period.
The community was concerned about school placements, the inability to book GP appointments and the quality of existing health facilities. While the core strategy proposed 400 new homes, this level of growth would not be great enough to deliver new infrastructure, such as a new primary school. This growth would simply add pressure to existing services.
Residents also felt strongly about protecting green spaces, particularly Bury Common, the largest area of green space in Milton Keynes. It was decided a neighbourhood plan was the best way to achieve this.
How will the neighbourhood plan tackle the challenges the town faces?
To provide much needed community infrastructure, it was decided to allocate above and beyond the number of houses specified in the core strategy. Much of this would be on a large area of land at Tickford Fields. It was decided that at least 1000-1200 new homes would be allocated for this site.
The plan specified that the developer building on this large housing site must set aside land and money towards new schools on site as well as money towards a secondary school that will be located elsewhere in the town. The developer will also need to provide a local shopping centre, linked with a health facility providing essential services to the community.
The neighbourhood planning group recognised that if only 400 new homes were built none of this infrastructure would be able to happen. It was vital for the community to thrive, as it was an ageing community. The extra dwellings would also allow children of Newport Pagnell residents to stay in the area. The group also proposed a further 200 homes on four brownfield sites in the town.
Newport Pagnell has been granted a significant sum of S106 funding (financial contributions from developers) to redesign and plan huge scale refurbishments at the local sports centre to prepare for the new influx of people once the houses allocated in the plan are built.
When the new homes specified in the neighbourhood plan are built, the population of the town will increase from 16,000 to 19,500.
Residents reacted positively to the plan with a high turnout at referendum and an 82% yes vote.
Outcome of the neighbourhood plan
Newport Pagnell parish council has received prestigious awards for their neighbourhood plan after trebling the number of new dwellings that was proposed in the original core strategy.
Learning from this neighbourhood plan- tips for other groups
Growth can be used as a positive catalyst to bring forward much needed community infrastructure as the Newport Pagnell neighbourhood plan shows.
The hard work doesn’t stop when the neighbourhood plan is made. The steering group recognised this and formed a ‘master planning’ implementation group post referendum, to work closely with all developers in ensuring that planning applications met the requirements of the neighbourhood development plan.
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Since the development of the Bembridge Neighbourhood Plan, by working with developers the local community have managed to secure and approve 21 affordable homes. Of the 21 dwellings, 13 are on Sycamore Drive – a small-scale development of affordable housing, which is made up of four discounted market sales and nine social rentals.