If you’ve ever been frustrated that the planning system doesn’t do enough to protect nature and make space for wildlife in your area, now is your chance to change things!
The Government unveiled the new Localism Act at the end of last year, which aims to give people more of a say in planning the future growth of their community. The main headline of the Act is Neighbourhood Planning, a new concept which will see people coming together via their Parish Council, Town Council, or Neighbourhood Forum, to create a Neighbourhood Plan a set of locally decided objectives and policies to guide development and deliver a shared vision for the place you live. Here at Somerset Wildlife Trust we’re excited about the possibilities for nature Neighbourhood Planning could bring. As well as making decisions about new built development, communities will also be able to plan for natural developments: from wild play and wild greenspaces to wetlands and woodlands, people can decide what the nature network, or “green infrastructure” should look like in their patch, and write the policies to make it a reality.
If you’ve been keeping up with our Living Landscapes approach to revitalising nature across the county you’ll know that creating and restoring spaces for wildlife in every corner of the county is vital. If every parish and neighbourhood were to plan spaces and corridors for nature, think what Somerset might look like in 10 years time. We hope that as many communities as possible will choose to take part in the Neighbourhood Planning initiative, so that more nature-rich areas can be created and connected up across Somerset’s landscape, allowing people and wildlife to thrive.
If this article has aroused your interest and you want more information, there are many good sources across the internet a good place to start is with the Department for Communities and Local Government website.
SWT will be holding a number of informal public open evenings around the county to discuss nature in Neighbourhood Planning, and you are more than welcome to attend these we’ll be advertising them on the website once details have been finalised, so keep checking.
Alternatively, if your Parish, Town or Neighbourhood is already thinking about Neighbourhood Planning, SWT can come and talk to you about making the most of opportunities for nature. To discuss Neighbourhood Planning events and talks please contact Michelle Osbourn on . We look forward to hearing about your plans for nature near you soon!