The Neighbourhood Plan was considered by Stafford Borough Council Cabinet on 3 November 2016 and adopted by Council on 22 November 2016. The Hixon Neighbourhood Plan is now part of the Borough’s development plan for making planning decisions.
The Hixon Neighbourhood Plan and supporting documents submitted to Stafford Borough Council on November 23rd 2015 can be viewed on the Neighbourhood Plan Documents tab.
In July 2013, Hixon Parish Council was successful with its application to Stafford Borough Council to allow for the preparation of a Neighbourhood Plan. The boundary of the Plan area was the existing Parish Council boundary.
The Neighbourhood Plan will cover the time period up to 2031, the same as the Plan for Stafford Borough. The Neighbourhood Plan process enables communities to shape the environment where they live and inform how development takes place and helps to influence the type, quality and location of that development, ensuring that change brings with it local benefit. The community of Hixon has a strong history of taking local decision making into its own hands. Neighbourhood Planning now provides an opportunity for the community to have a real say over local decision making, to achieve its long-standing goals through the planning system and address the challenges and opportunities facing the future vitality of the Parish. The Neighbourhood Plan is based on extensive research and influenced by robust engagement with the local community. In the lead up to the referendum decision makers should consider this to be an important reference point and give it weight as a material consideration in any development planning decisions. When the Plan is adopted it will have very significant weight in the determination of planning applications.
The first meeting of a 'fledgling' Hixon NP Steering Group took place in September 2013 and a properly constituted group was formalised in January 2014. The group agreed a project plan and time frame, with the first action to develop a questionnaire for distribution to all 770 households in Hixon parish in May 2014.
The questionnaire asked peoples' views on the facilities in Hixon, asking people to provide a score on many questions and say whether or not they wanted certain other new facilities or improvements on other questions. The amount and type of both housing development and industrial development was included in the questionnaire, with a site map for both residential development and industrial development included. The sites on the map were all the sites included in the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (2013) plus those put forward for industrial use. Residents were asked to indicate which sites, if any, they preferred for future housing development. and for further employment land, if an increase in employment land was required.
The questionnaire was advertised by the use of a newsletter in Autumn 2013, followed by door-to-door distribution of a postcard informing residents of the imminent arrival of the questionnaire - questionnaires were delivered door-to-door to each household in the Parish about 2 weeks later, with the questionnaire being explained to residents who were in at the time.
The completed questionnaires were collected by hand, with facilities for return to a collection box in a local shop also being provided.
463 responses, equating to 60% of households, were received. Analysis of the responses was completed in November 2014 and the data forms the evidence base for much of the content of the draft Hixon Neighbourhood Plan.
A public exhibition to release the information was held in Hixon Memorial Hall on Saturday/Sunday 6th & 7th December 2014. Some 200 people attended. The Public Exhibition was advertised by way of a hand-delivered Visions and Aspirations Newsletter to each household, on the Parish Council website, notice boards and community Facebook page. Several key stakeholders in the village were invited to attend the exhibition, to find out what the outcome of the consultation process was and to partake in discussions of the issues with residents.
During December 2014, a business questionnaire was delivered or posted to all the businesses and shops in Hixon parish, including all of the industrial estates. Questions relating to subjects including number of employees, long term plans, details of what would help the business to grow/had hindered growth in the past.
The draft Hixon Neighbourhood Plan was out for its 6-week pre-submission consultation in July/August 2015 with all households, local land-owners and businesses invited to comment, having been provided with a copy of the policies and details of how to view the whole document, with appendices. The consultation was also advertised on notice boards, in Hixon shops, on the Parish Council and Borough Council websites and on the Hixon community Facebook page.
The plan was launched for consultation by Stafford Borough Council on 30th November 2015 and has now been inspected by an Examiner and the report sent back to Stafford Borough Council in February 2016, recommending that the Hixon Neighbourhood Plan should proceed to a referendum. The referendum took place on September 15th 2016 and achieved an overwhelming Yes vote with 95.2% of those voting choosing to adopt the Plan. Turnout was 32.11%.
The Steering Group consists of: Brendan McKeown (Chair), Catherine Gill (Secretary/Treasurer), Clare Murdoch (Project Manager), Susan McKeown, Nigel Baxter, Stan Jones, Mick Kelly, Sarah Brookes and Andy Haynes. Assistance also provided by Andy Murdoch, Karen Baxter and Jan Kelly.