Dartmouth Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group
Terms of Reference
Basis for the formation of the Group
i. The combined 2014-2034 South Hams, West Devon and Plymouth Joint Local Development Plan ( “the Joint Local Development Plan “ or “JLDP”) has now been finalized and has received Government approval. The 2011 Localism Act allows parish and town communities to research and write a Neighbourhood Development Plan (“Neighbourhood Plan”) to provide parish level detail to complement the District level content in the Development Plan which, once approved, has legal force in guiding parish local development. The relevant parish or town council, in this case “Dartmouth’, is the body, under the requirements of the 2011 Localism Act, which is required to lead this process.
ii. From 2014 onwards the then Dartmouth Town Council (“DTC”) decided to initiate the production of a Neighbourhood Plan (“DNP”) to fit in with this legislation and the activation of the new JLDP. DTC organized a number of Topic Groups, reporting to the Mayor, to consider local issues and policies with a view to determining what policies might be considered as key for inclusion in a Neighbourhood Plan for Dartmouth. Participants in these Topic Groups included Councillors and individual local residents and business people who volunteered to work in concert with the DTC in identifying potential policies relevant to Dartmouth. Alongside these initiatives a Public Survey was undertaken as required under the agreed legal requirements to seek input from the Community.
iii. In July 2019 the current Dartmouth Town Council, following their election in May 2019, approved the creation of a Community led group to stimulate action to progress the development of the DNP and the reopening of the necessary works required for the production of a Dartmouth Neighbourhood Plan. In September 2019 they agreed to the setting up of a Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group (“the Steering Group”) to be led and managed by the Community itself. This Steering Group is being established on the initiative of DTC and with its support and authority. It is intended that there will be some DTC Councillor representation, support and involvement on the Steering Group.
iv. The Steering Group will operate under DTC’s delegated authority.
v. Membership of the Steering group will be drawn from the Community and it will seek to obtain through the DNP process a diverse representation of views from a broad range of interests, skills, gender, age and experience relevant to the production of a suitable DNP based on considerable input from the wider Community. This will be achieved in a number of ways such as public input and consultation, the Steering Group itself or other Groups formed to consider specific topics or contributions of help and advice from other interested parties.
Steering Group Purpose
I. To review the existing survey data and the available data from the earlier Topic Group research and other data, to carry out any further necessary data based research, to consult widely across the local community, to include individuals, businesses and community organizations and to establish land use and development planning priorities.
ii. To formulate policy proposals as the basis of the DNP based on this wide- ranging research and consultation, to enhance the wellbeing of the community and the long-term sustainability and viability of Dartmouth, within the framework provided by the Neighbourhood Plan legislation.
iii. To write a plan document which includes these planning objectives and relevant policy proposals which are shown through further consultation to be widely supported by the community at large, sufficient to be approved by the formal plan assessment process and the referendum required by the legislation. The plan would also include any additional matters which should be for considered for inclusion in a possible Community Action List.
3.Geographical area covered by the Neighbourhood Plan
The Dartmouth Town Council area consists of the town areas called Clifton and Townstal and the wider areas out to Little Dartmouth and to Norton – all as shown in the attached Plan Area which has been approved by SHDC.
Steering Group Membership
i. The membership of the Group, once it is properly established and running, will require to be selected a Chair, a Secretary and a Treasurer from its total number of members and a representative by invitation from each of the groups dealing with agreed specific topics, up to three Councillor nominees from DTC and also general members of the Group, resulting in a maximum of (say) 15 to 20 members in all.
ii. The Group may co-opt additional members as it feels it appropriate provided a maximum of twenty members is not exceeded.
iii. Supporters may attend meetings by invitation whenever relevant or whenever a subject of interest to them is on the agenda. Other observers may be invited at the discretion of the Chair.
iv. The Secretary will maintain an up to date list of members and supporters and their attendance at Group meetings and ensure that relevant minutes are kept of key meetings.
5. Steering Group Operation
i. The members of the Group will generally meet monthly to identify and organize the carrying out of the necessary tasks amongst themselves and through the specific Topic Groups, manage the process and assess the implications of the statistical and community feedback and other research and evidential matter required for the DNP and then agree how these should be translated into project plans and policies.
ii. Members will also work as part of any Topic Group or other group dealing with specific projects or tasks to pursue the purpose and detail of specific areas, examples being such matters as data research and analysis, housing, heritage, parking, transport or employment. They will be helped by individuals and supporters who have particular skills or contacts in such areas.
iii. The Group will identify where and when publicity material and public meetings are required and where use of the available funding is appropriate and allocate agreed funds accordingly.
iv. Where the Group considers that paid professional help is needed it will define, on the advice of the Treasurer or acting Treasurer, the specification for the task and agree the terms of engagement and the allocation of the required funds from the funding available
6. Steering Group Procedures
i. The quorum will be four members with voting rights, to include at least one from the Chair, the Secretary and the Treasurer to provide continuity. Voting rights, once the Group is properly established and running, will be available to all members who have attended at least one third of the meetings in the preceding six months.
ii. The Group will have powers before a routine Group meeting to appoint a further member or members, if deemed necessary, or to replace a member who wishes to, or has, resigned, provided always that the total numbers of the Group do not exceed the permitted maximum.
iii. Should finely balanced decisions need to be taken, for example on what to include in the plan, a simple majority vote will be taken at the Chair’s discretion amongst all the agreed full members of the Group in attendance at the meeting in question with the Chair having an additional casting vote.
iv. An Annual General Meeting will take place in February or March each year for the life of the plan process, commencing in 2021 (after the completion of a full year of activity), for the Community to receive a progress report and for members of the Community to raise any questions or issues they feel are appropriate to the preparation of the DNP. This will comprise a Report from the Steering Group on progress with the Plan, confirmation of membership of the Group and election of its Officers.
v. The Treasurer, or acting Treasurer, will agree a budget based on any agreed funding obtained including one-off or other grants made available by the Government body which provided funding for the provision of professional help with technical issues and with operational matters and related costs, where necessary. The Group will issue contracts for this work and monitor the use of the grant(s) and the contractor’s output in conjunction with DTC as the relevant legal entity.
vi. The Group will follow normal public service rules in declaring any personal or business interests wherever this is relevant. The Secretary, or acting Secretary, will record this where appropriate. Individuals should discuss any concerns with the Chair and agree an appropriate way ahead before the relevant meeting or activity.
vii. All those involved in the Steering Group, both members and supporters, will conduct business with each other and the wider community in a spirit of openness, collaboration, trust and mutual respect. They will also treat everyone with courtesy and respect regardless of their age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, ability, religion or belief.
Note. The legal requirements for the NDP are set out in legislation. The Steering Group and all its activities have to comply with these requirements and conduct its activities within the constraints of the Joint Local Development Plan 2014- 2034