Penistone Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP)


This page looks into the Penistone NDP initiative from Penistone Town Council (PTC). It encourages local residents to take part in the process and the Facebook Group 'Community Action Penistone' (CAP) is providing feedback into the process from the many local residents who use that medium. Please see Penistone NDP, for the latest news.

Outline of a Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP)
One of former Premier Cameron's 'Big Ideas' was to give residents a sense of involvement and influence on local matters, such as improvements to their towns and villages and how housing developments might be implemented. The 'Localism Act' helped facilitate this, along with improving 'openness' in decision-making processes and improving transparency and accountability in the way that public funds were being spent.

Communities were now able to set up 'Neighbourhood Development Plans' (NDPs), with a view to influencing the direction of local building developments, perhaps to preserve the essential nature of a town, whilst not being able to block them entirely. In our case, the NDP is led by the Town Council but the new provisions allowed other groups, such as a neighbourhood forum or a community organisation, to do the work (See HMG). According to legislation, although an NDP reflects local issues, concerns and priorities, it must also conform to national and local planning policy. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) states that plans must be in 'general conformity' with the strategic policies of the (in our case, BMBC's) 'Local Plan'.

A suitable NDP would have a degree of legal power over new developments, to exert influence over housing development applications and perhaps trade off any new developments against local gains in facilities and infrastructure. Under the Localism Act, the four basic conditions of an NDP were:

HMG's 'My Community' has a short video: 'Understanding Neighbourhood Planning' (Youtube video, 2mins 5secs).

Penistone NDP Teams
Penistone Mug from Hallmark Card ShopFrom elected members of the local council, PTC allocated six Team Leaders to the six NDP priorities identified for the Penistone area:

From the Publicity:
'We need as many people as possible to attend the event in their area, so please if you're local to the following events, come along and meet the teams, give us your views etc and if you're keen to help in any practical way, tell us.'
- also -
'These events are for your benefit so please come along, tell your friends and feel free to spread the word. Remember, "It's OUR Plan".'

Grants are available for the NDP process and Oxspring had been successful in gaining £8,000 towards their NDP exercise. Penistone is also pursuing such grants and, in January 2017, the PTC Precept allocated £7,000 towards NDP costs. See the 2016 Precept Minutes (pdf).

The Launch Event
Saturday 19th March 2016.
After the NDP website and Facebook Group had gone live, the Penistone NDP Launch Event finally took place in the Community Centre, with good support and interest from local residents. The Penistone NDP team encouraged local residents to take part in developing the Draft Plan and took names of anyone who might like to become involved at different levels, including leaflet drops.

The list was not closed and other residents could still become involved after the Launch Event. Residents were also urged to respond to any request for input, such as questionnaires or a response to the Draft Plan as it occurs.

Penistone NDP Timeline
Penistone Coat of ArmsHere are some milestones leading up to a workable plan. See also the HMG's Summary of Key Stages in neighbourhood planning.

February 2015
Mr Ian MacKay visited the Development and Regeneration Committee, as the local champion managing Neighbourhood Planning for Leeds City Council. He tabled a comprehensive brief regarding Neighbourhood Plans (alas, not attached to published Minutes) and emphasised the critical timing of the plan's development, as Barnsley MBC’s Local Development Plan was at an advanced stage. Mr MacKay advised PTC to work closely with BMBC and explained, in reply to a question, that there was scope in a Neighbourhood Plan to require infrastructure, prior to a development taking place.

24th March 2015
BMBC received an application from PTC for designation as a 'Neighbourhood Area', which set out the physical boundary of the Pen NDP. View the 'Offer Decision Record' (pdf) at BMBC, which includes a map with the designation area boundary.

June 2015
Cllr. Webber confirmed that PTC's application for 'Neighbourhood Area designation' had been approved by Barnsley MBC and the matter was passed to the Development and Regeneration Committee.

September 2015
This topic had been deferred form the July PTC meeting. Following a brief presentation by Cllr. Webber, who was to lead the process, PTC 'Resolved' to proceed with a Penistone Neighbourhood Development Plan, subject to:

January 2016
The NDP Steering Group born as the offspring of PTC's Development and Regeneration Committee (See Minutes - pdf), with the creation of an NDP website being prepared.

David Gluck (LinkedIn) selected as the best NDP Consultant, through his personal company Ruralis, to review the existing Community-led Plan which had been produced by an off-shoot committee of Penistone Town Council, formed from councillors, residents and representatives of local groups. This plan had been based upon responses from local residents and the results of a questionnaire which had been sent out to the residents. This was taken as a good basis to build the more effective NDP, to be re-assessed, required surveys carried out and new priorities defined appropriate for an NDP.

Mr Gluck chose six priorities: Housing, Economy, Built Environment, Countryside and Green Space, Community Facilities and Low Carbon. One hoped that, as a one-man band, Mr Gluck would not draw out the process unnecessarily. In fact, even a passing glance at HMG's revised Guidance Notes (Feb 2015) suggests that the process is quite a difficult one. A political TV show explained some of the difficulties: 'Localism and Neighbourhood Plans May not Work' (Youtube video clip, 7mins 43s).

22nd February 2016
Meeting held and Minutes published. See Pen NDP's Feb Minutes page.
Ruralis paid £1,560.00 (See PTC Expenditure Feb-Mar 2016, pdf)

19th March 2016
The Launch Event, see above.

5th April 2016
Meeting held and a summary published. See Pen NDP's 'Future Plans' page. Minutes not published.

14th May 2016 - Penistone NDP Roadshow, Penistone Market Barn.
For locals to meet NDP Team Leaders and find out what the Pen NDP is all about, how to help and what to look out for in coming months. As a Saturday event, this one was buzzing with residents and councillors.

25th and 28th June 2016 - Thurlstone School, Millhouse Institute and Cubley Hall.
Just prior to these two roadshows, BMBC had issued their 'Local Plan' map. The Cubley Hall event (on a rainy Tuesday evening) had perhaps a dozen or so residents, with three enthusiastic Penistone Town Councillors who took note of public concerns. There were remarks about how to get the public more involved and the glacial rate of NDP progress. It was said that the NDP process would probably take another 18 months.

This event demonstrated a certain apathy by all of the (paid) Penistone Ward BMBC councillors, Penistone Community radio and the Barnsley Chronicle, of whom none attended, while the unpaid Penistone Town Councillors had made the effort.

26th August 2016 - Hoylandswaine Roadshow

5th November to Saturday 18th December 2017 - Penistone Neighbourhood Development Plan (Pen NDP) Consultation
This is an important milestone, where consultation letters were delivered to local residents from 5th November. This had been notified through CAP (Facebook) (slightly re-formatted here):
As a local resident, your opinion matters. A lot of work has gone into preparing the Plan. Given that a planning application has now gone in for one of the housing allocations, PLEASE complete and return your NDP Questionnaire, which will arrive soon. The Consultation NDP can be seen at Pen NDP and these locations:

Spare Questionnaires will also be available at the above locations, for households who fail to receive their own copies.

The questionnaire referred to a 68-page Draft Plan (pdf) drawn up by the NDP group. In effect, it made a series of statements and asked if the respondent agreed with each of them.

Community Action Penistone
For those residents frustrated by the glacial pace of the local NDP process, Community Action Penistone (CAP) is very active about the plan. It is open to all local residents who are concerned about the continuing over-development of our area. CAP feeds directly into the Pen NDP by having two members on the Pen NDP panel.

From 2014, CAP publicised, encouraged and cajoled people to get involved and built this group up to almost 1,100 members. It has held numerous public meetings, engaged with the Town Council to adopt a Neighbourhood Development Plan, gained the assistance of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), met with the Penistone MP Angela Smith, consulted with Barnsley Planning Officers, liaised with local community groups, and was co-opted to the Development and Regeneration committee of the Town Council, which led to the formation of the Pen NDP Steering Group.

CAP has also publicised a petition to retain our police officers at a time of severe cut-backs, shared Facebook posts highlighting residents' concerns on various issues such as parking near schools and road safety, organised publicity at local events and it leafleted 4,000 homes when the group was originally set up. Another leaflet campaign in July 2016 was started to encourage a strong public response to the BMBC consultation on their own plan, which ours will have to fit into. With the hard work of a good many volunteering local residents, it delivered almost 5,000 questionnaires to local homes.

For more information to local residents, please see Community Action Penistone (Facebook).

Local Plan - Stage Three Inspection Meetings. This message is from CAP in October 2017

Developers say that construction could start early in the new year (of 2018).

Yesterday marked my fifteenth local Plan Inspection meeting over the past few months and it was perhaps the most important for Penistone, by far. The day was taken up by talking about the pros and cons of sites borough-wide. Most of these sites were dealt with in a matter of minutes but I was grateful to the Inspector who allowed me to speak at length about the four proposed sites in Penistone.

As with all the Inspection meetings, CAP had submitted detailed but concise documentation based on community feedback from the public meetings and the consultation we carried out last year. From the outset, it was made clear to the Inspector that the views expressed were the views of a large cross-section of our community and copies of the original CAP consultation sheets that you completed were made available to corroborate this.

I also outlined the many problems faced by residents, new and old, around the Hartcliffe site and how residents original objections had been ignored resulting in the problems they had outlined coming to fruition. I also pointed out that many of these same problems applied to the proposed sites and were again raised by our community in your objections. ( 'If we do not learn from the mistakes of history, we are doomed to repeat them' - George Santayana)

It was constantly claimed by developers and their consultants that building a large number of new, mainly aspirational/executive houses in Penistone would boost the local economy. However, this was put forward when developing previous local Plans and once again history has shown the steady decline of our High street, local businesses and no improvement in infrastructure and services.

The expensive, high-priced housing is not affordable for many young people in Penistone and has led to large amounts of professional people moving into the area, which, in itself, is good but this demographic tend to work in the larger surrounding cities and in the main do their spending there. Hopefully, I was able to show that boosting Penistone's local economy by building hundreds of high-end houses was a false claim that had failed in the past, and had in real terms had the opposite effect.

Developers had, on a couple of occasions during the meetings, argued that Penistone had over half the Land-Mass of the entire borough, which led me to point out that the boundaries of the four proposed sites were all within a couple of hundred yards of each other. 650 houses.

The traffic from these sites will be using the same nearby roads and Junctions. The A628 Barnsley Road Leading to Bridge end, Bridge Street up to Penistone, Manchester Road. Huddersfield Road, past the Grammar School, and Wellhouse Lane east and west. These roads, as we all know, are already congested and dangerous at busy times and because of Penistone’s low bridges are the only roads accessible to high sided vehicles travelling into and around Penistone and travelling towards the Woodhead pass.

It may be worth pointing out here that the 650 houses mentioned above are in addition to houses yet to be built on sites which have already been granted planning permission and the ones currently being built. Over a thousand houses in total. As well as the additional congestion on the roads caused by moving traffic, we all know the one thing that Penistone lacks is parking spaces. Also, the rate of build per site is roughly 40 houses per year. so for each site, do the maths for construction disruption!

One of the Proposed sites AC34 (48 Houses) is on land directly behind Penistone Grammar School. As well as the traffic from this site feeding out onto the same roads around Bridge End it was pointed out that the new Grammar School is already full to capacity and that common sense would dictate that the land is safeguarded for future expansion of the school.

This was counted by BMBC pointing out that the school would soon be extending upwards with additional floors to accommodate an extra 250 students. But is this a long-term fix? There is a limit to the number of floors that can be added and I would argue that those 250 additional places will soon be filled without factoring in the additional housing that is proposed.

During the meetings, it was interesting to find out that BMBC planning had not identified Penistone as a Historic Market Town when formulating the plan. This would have led to Penistone being assessed differently to other towns in the borough with different criteria being applied. Needless to say, this was brought to the Inspector's attention and along with a Photograph of one of BMBC’s own roadsigns welcoming people to 'PENISTONE HISTORIC MARKET TOWN'

Another point of interest is that BMBC refused permission to build a Business park on the Brownfield land that was once the old Conoco site in Oxspring, even though such a site could bring jobs and have only a positive effect on the local economy (please note that I am not advocating developing this site, merely pointing out their grounds for refusal and how it is at odds with how they view a site in Penistone).

The plant operated for many years with industrial buildings and daily tanker deliveries and, being tucked away in a remote corner, not really impacting on the village. The Head of Planning objected to developing this site, saying that it was overlooked by the surrounding hillside impacting on local views, and so permission was turned down (fair enough, I can easily go with that decision).

But then I made this argument: Proposed site H82 land south of Halifax road (414 Houses) would cover part of an inwardly facing hillside that makes up part of Penistone’s Northern Horizon and is visible from Penistone’s Conservation area (one of the criteria against proposed sites). This would spoil views across what is at the moment green belt land for people both travelling into Penistone and people in Penistone looking out.

These fields are often home to grazing cattle and sheep and their views feed into Penistone’s heritage as a rural, agricultural and Historic Market Town.
Without such views, we start to lose that identity and what visitors like about our Town. Obviously, this can have a negative effect on our Local economy. AND YET BMBC refuse to apply the same criteria to this site as they applied to the Conocco site, even given the possible ramifications for Penistone are far more reaching.

Site H82 also has the potential to negatively impact on the ecology of Scout Dam and the surrounding woodland. Once again this site, along with site H81 Land South of Wellhouse Lane West (138 Houses) will put additional traffic on the same, already overstretched, roads and Junctions. Another interesting note; there are no Plans by BMBC to add or improve infrastructure in Penistone.

Site H25 off Talbot Street (30 Houses) Again this is a steep hilly site but the two main problems are, once again, the infrastructure. The two exits for the site are Talbot street, onto bridge street near to the Tesco roundabout and already an area of congestion at busy times and Manchester road, again a congested area near to the traffic lights. The other infrastructure problem is, of course, the drainage bearing in mind the problems already experienced with the drain that keeps erupting on Bridge street.

All the way through the meetings I have emphasized that the residents of Penistone are not against development. But, following all the development of recent years, the Town and its infrastructure is now at a tipping point and any further development needs to be planned intelligently and sympathetic to the Town and its needs and the needs of its Community.

Hopefully, during my address I managed to put everyone's objections and fears forward and made a difference. I know I did the best I could and hope I didn’t let us down. Only time will tell. I intend to go to the last few stage meetings and will report back anything that I feel relevant.

During the course of the meetings, it became apparent that a lot of developers are pushing for planning applications on sites around Penistone; some on sites where previous applications have failed. Thurlstone springs to mind, and also on green belt land where they have an option to develop. Simply put, nowhere is safe and vigilance against inappropriate development is advised.

Over the next couple of months, Penistone households will be receiving by post a consultation for the Penistone Neighbourhood plan. I urge everyone to what for and complete and return these forms as it will play an important part in trying to influence any developments that are to be built in our area.

Once again I would like to thank everyone for their continued support.

Relevant to planning topics.

Other NDPs in the Area
Perhaps we can learn some tricks from other groups within five miles from us:

Five Purposes of Green Belt
For reference, this is from an HMG Policy Document, National Planning Policy Framework (Paragraph 80), dated 2012.

'Green Belt serves five purposes:

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