Lack of interest torpedoes Eversley Neighbourhood Plan

On 16th May, between 2-8pm, a ‘drop in’ event was held at Eversley cricket club to explore how much support a Neighbourhood Plan would have and how many people would be prepared to help deliver one. Sadly, only 5% of Eversley residents and one local business attended the event. But a Neighbourhood Plan must have broad-based community support and the willingness of residents to help develop it. With so few residents attending, and with only six of them making a definite commitment to join an organising committee, the natural conclusion must be that residents are not particularly interested in helping shape the future of Eversley.

In June, the organisers of the event discussed with Eversley Parish Council how the day had gone and what the next steps should be. After considering the level of interest, and a range of possible options, the organisers and the Parish Council concluded that there was simply no prospect at present of developing a credible Neighbourhood Plan for Eversley. So, to avoid wasting further time and money on a plan that would not meet the crucial requirement for broad community input, it was decided, with regret, not to pursue the development of an Eversley Neighbourhood Plan for now.

Speaking after the meeting, Eversley Parish Council Chairman Adrian McNeil commented:

“It is sad that so few people in Eversley have shown an interest in a Neighbourhood Plan. It may be that Hart’s Local Plan, and the lack of any imminent threat of major change to the parish, mean that people feel a Neighbourhood Plan is not needed. But a Neighbourhood Plan has much more to offer than just being a means of fighting unwanted development.”

Leone Brown, one of the organisers of the ‘drop in’ event said she was disappointed with the lack of interest and reflected the views of a number of those at the Parish Council meeting when she observed:

“What worries me is that this may make developers think that Eversley is now fair game for future large-scale development if Hart starts to fall behind in its house building plans. If a developer does bring forward a new proposal it will be too late at that point to think about a Neighbourhood Plan.”
A Neighbourhood Plan would give the residents of Eversley a real say in developing a shared vision for
development and growth in the village. They could choose where they want new homes to be built, have their say on what they should look like, and what infrastructure should be provided to support this development. In short, Eversley would be providing a blueprint for its future.

Although the development of a Neighbourhood Plan has now been put on hold, it was agreed that if sufficient additional interest became apparent, the decision could be revisited. If you did not attend the event in May but would be willing to support a Neighbourhood Plan by committing to help develop one – perhaps even be part of an organising committee – then please register your support and interest on the Parish Council website http://eversleyparishcouncil.co.uk/. If there is sufficient support for a Neighbourhood Plan and enough people volunteer to join an organising committee, The Parish Council will consider holding a residents’ meeting, which we would ask you to attend, to confirm that there would be sufficient active support to suggest proceeding with a Neighbourhood Plan.