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Parish Plan (download Parish Plan)

What is a Parish Plan? 

A Parish Plan is a statement of how the local community sees itself developing over the next few years. The government has said that it wants communities to take more control of their own neighbourhood, to say needs doing and to engage with other organisations to get it done. Of course, there are some things we would like to change and others we would prefer to stay as they are. We can’t prevent some change from happening, but we can influence it. 

In a rural area such as ours, a Parish Plan looked to be the most effective way of achieving this. Although the Parish Council has taken a keen interest in its production, it had to be community-led to be effective, for wider government to fully take heed of it, whether at city, county or national level.  

Our Parish Plan has been developed to:  

  • reflect the views of all sections of the community
  • record the features and local characteristics people value
  • identify local problems and opportunities
  • show how residents want the community to develop in the future
  • prepare a plan of action to achieve this vision. 

How has it been produced? 

It was begun by the Parish Council with well-attended public meetings in early 2012, canvassing first-thoughts from residents with a ‘brown paper poll’ where post-it notes were used to list things that they liked about living in the parish, some of the things that they didn’t like, and things that could be improved upon. 

Village groups of volunteers were set up at the last of these meetings and these groups in turn elected a Steering Group, with the Parish Council also represented. This group, containing a good mix of age groups and including people from all four villages, met regularly to review progress and agree next steps. The Steering Group also attended the Avington and the Easton Village fetes during the Summer of 2012 to encourage people from all of the villages to comment further on the topics of interest. 

The Questionnaire 

The Steering Group then devised a questionnaire reflecting the topics identified at the public events above to: Community / Environment/ Communications/ Roads and Transport/ Development.  

To ensure that all sections of the community were involved, separate questionnaires were produced for households and businesses, and children from the local primary school were also involved in the project. As an incentive, a prize draw for a meal for two was drawn from returned questionnaires, won by a resident in Itchen Abbas.  

Almost half of the households in the Valley completed and returned their questionnaires, which is a great success in itself, and will add a lot of credibility to the Plan. These responses and comments provide the basis for the actions proposed in the Plan.  

A Winchester City Council officer has also been involved at all key stages and kept informed of progress throughout, to ensure that the due process has been properly followed, in order for it to be accepted by wider government as the genuine voice of the Itchen Valley. 

The Plan 

It was very clear from replies to the Questionnaires that the vast majority of residents enjoy living in the Parish and appreciate the attractive environment and village atmosphere. One of the objects of Parish Plans is to produce an Action Plan for the future but with such a contented population this is not easy!  

The Steering Group has, however, identified five topics from the replies to the Questionnaire as meriting further examination, these are: 

  • Transport (cycling, driving speeds, volume of traffic, public transport etc)
  • Roads and verges (road maintenance, danger spots, upkeep of verges etc)
  • Communications (mobile phone reception, broadband, websites etc)
  • Housing (future development, the environment, social housing etc)
  • Community (facilities for children and the elderly, activities, services etc)

We would like to give everyone further opportunity to influence the final development of the plan, whether by showing their support for the status quo or by following up some of the interesting and innovative suggestions that have been made.

To begin this process, we will hold two public meetings, one at Itchen Abbas and Avington village hall on Saturday 11 January 2014 and another the following week at Easton village hall (Saturday 18th January).

We should emphasise that although the Parish Council will certainly take account of the Parish Plan and will consider acting on suitable proposals, many of the actions will need the help and support of residents to implement successfully.