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Community is in line to be given power over local planning policy

By West Briton  |  Posted: June 28, 2012

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MAWNAN SMITH is set to become one of the first areas in Cornwall to take charge of its own future regarding planning matters.

The parish council successfully bid for pilot project status to create its own neighbourhood development plan.

A key aspect of the plan is that it sets out general policies for the development and use of land.

Council chairman Denis Gartside said: "It's very exciting. It gives the community the opportunity to say what they want.

"The parish council felt it would be a good idea to take more responsibility for planning within the village and we're a front-runner project."

An advisory group of six residents and two councillors is drawing up a draft plan, looking at aspects such as housing, particularly affordable, road safety, infrastructure, environment, car parking and public transport.

"They're looking at the parish plan to see what the current problems are and how to address them," explained Mr Gartside.

"We're keen to ensure we maintain the environment within the village. We want to maintain public spaces and ensure the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is honoured.

"Planning has got to recognise that once it's gone, it's gone, and we want to keep the integrity of the village.

"If there are greenfield sites we feel should remain so, we can say they should never get planning permission," he said.

However, the village could also have a say in which sites should be developed, and this aspect of the parish's new expanded role was being investigated.

"One of the priorities is identifying sites for affordable housing," said Mr Gartside.

"We're working closely with landowners to satisfy that need, and we want to make sure that houses are appropriate and build with the most modern materials to ensure energy conservation."

The group is going to come back with some ideas and in December there will be a public priority event at which residents can comment.

The completed document will then go out to a parish referendum and if 50 per cent or more agree, will go forward to be adopted as part of Cornwall Council's planning policy.

The council has been given £20,000 from the Department for Communities and Local Government.

It is working closely with Cornwall Council's planning and regeneration departments and the community network team.

St Blazey is the only other place in Cornwall to have successfully bid to draw up a plan.

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