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East Leake has a population of nearly 7,000 and is near Nottingham, Leicester, Loughborough and Derby, with good links to the M1, making it an attractive place for commuters. It is well served by shops and services such as schools and a leisure centre.
The village was the subject of considerable interest from developers and the Rushcliffe Core Strategy, the plan for the local area, was also proposing at least 400 more homes. The residents were worried about this and wanted to have their say about what was built. The sustainability of the development was a concern: would the village services be able to cope with the increased population?
The residents were trying to develop a Community Plan, but they did not know much about planning or design considerations for new developments.
What we did
Advice and support from Cabe helped residents and the parish council develop a vision for East Leake. Cabe held two workshops to help residents understand where the village sat geographically and what that meant, and who lived there and what those people needed. For example, East Leake is an important hub to other, smaller villages nearby. This may create demand for housing from older residents moving from the smaller villages to be closer to East Leake’s services.
In the first workshop, Cabe supported the residents to carry out a townscape analysis, a way of looking at the architecture and use of buildings, local landmarks and views. Through this, the residents learned about developing a long-term vision for the village. Rather than making ad hoc decisions about developments, the analysis encouraged the residents to think about the bigger picture.
The workshop looking at townscape was a real eye opener for us. We can see that unless you have an overall plan, decisions are piecemeal and relationships between new housing, traffic and pedestrians, for example, are never properly addressed.Conrad Oatey, East Leake Parish Council
A second workshop focussed on housing design. The residents looked at recent developments to see what was good and what could be improved about them. This helped them design a spatial plan for what East Leake should look like.
During two further evening sessions, residents produced a Vision Statement for East Leake’s future, which laid the groundwork for the neighbourhood plan.
We instinctively knew we didn’t like the quality of our housing developments; the criteria gave us the tools for making clear what was wrong with them. It will help us influence future new housing so that it is right for East Leake.Carys Thomas, East Leake Parish Council
The parish councillors now have criteria through which they can articulate their views and objections about developments, and they are more likely to be listened to. Because the parish councillors feel more confident in understanding planning policy and design, they have a better dialogue with the planning team of Rushcliffe Borough Council and receive significant support from them.
By collaborating with the residents already working on the Community Plan, the neighbourhood planning team has been able to share resources. Crucially, it used the information from the village survey to understand how the residents felt and what they wanted. The results have been analysed and used to write the Neighbourhood Plan Vision Statement, which has been distributed with the parish newsletter and through other community access points.
The neighbourhood vision, and ultimately the plan, will set a vision for the future, help to protect key characteristics and features of East Leake and maintain diversity in the village population.
Cabe supported East Leake Parish Council during 2012.
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