Have say on rural plans

MORE residents in rural areas are being encouraged to complete surveys that landed on their doormat about the creation of new community plans.

Hartlepool Rural Plan will cover the villages around Hartlepool and give people living in those communities a major say on planning and development on their doorstep.

Hundreds of questionnaires were delivered to homes in the areas involved as part of a consultation, but few people have returned them so far.

Local community leaders say it is vital people get involved as the plan needs to reflect the views of the whole community.

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The plan will see communities given more power over issues that affect their future under the Government’s new Localism Bill.

Dalton Piercy, Elwick, Greatham and Hart parish councils, along with Newton Bewley Parish Meeting, are working together to produce a neighbourhood plan for the residents and businesses of the villages and farms around Hartlepool.

They are also being supported by Hartlepool Borough Council,

Hundreds of questionnaires were delivered to every home in the areas covered by the plan at the end of September.

Its aim was to gather information on how things stand now and also invite comment of how things might be improved.

Brian Walker, chairman of Greatham Parish Council and vice chairman of Hartlepool Rural Plan Steering Group, said: “It cannot be stressed how important it is for people to make sure their views are included as they could well be affected by the outcome.”

The finished plan must be taken into account by decision-makers when deciding planning applications in their area.

It could also help communities to identify if new homes, shops and work places are needed and where they should be built, as well as what they should look like.

Coun Walker added: “The recent core strategy was produced from the top down, the community was the last to be consulted.

“The neighbourhood plan is the opposite – it is starting with you, asking you how you want your community to be – make sure you are not sitting back, taking no part only to criticise and ruin all the efforts at the last minute – get involved now by telling us what you want.”

The area to be covered by the plan can be viewed on Hartlepool Borough Council’s website, and is open for consultation until Tuesday, November 6.

Everyone who completes the questionnaires could win £50 by returning them at collection points before the end of October.

There are letter boxes at Hart Village Hall, Greatham Community Centre, 4 North View Dalton Piercy or Ivy Cottage Newton Bewley, or drop in by at Elwick Post Office.