Credit Photo: Balsall Heath Forum
Balsall Heath is an inner-city district of Birmingham with a multi-ethnic population of about 15,000 and high levels of deprivation.
It is a confident community where people want to get involved when they are treated as part of the solution, not the problem. The process of neighbourhood planning was led by the Balsall Heath Forum with extensive public engagement throughout so that the plan reflected local people's needs and priorities.
Their Neighbourhood Plan sets out a programme of regeneration, including a new station to create better links with Birmingham Moor Street. Other key policies are:
- Improvement of the seven local parks
- Regeneration of the two high streets
- 300 new homes
- New town square and centre for local enterprises
- Measures to reduce traffic and parking congestion
On 8th October 2015 the referendum on the plan was held. It received a 90% 'yes' vote from local residents making Balsall Heath the first place in Birmingham to vote in a neighbourhood plan.
Woodcote is a village in the Chilterns in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Like many English villages, expensive detached houses have priced younger owners out of the market.
In September 2011 in a parish meeting with over 250 residents in attendance, 15 volunteers formed a group to research and write a neighbourhood plan for the area. They identified 6 topic areas to focus on:
- Housing sites
- Community wellbeing
- Traffic & transport
- Employment & Local economy
The group undertook a large programme of consultation, with large scale community events, workshops, drop-ins and a questionnaire. The results formed part of the evidence base for their plan. Housing is a particular focus, with guidelines to ensure the needs of the whole community were met.
At the referendum on 3 April 2014, 91% of people voted 'yes' to the plan. As a result of creating the neighbourhood plan, community opposition to development has turned into support, as it reflects the needs of the community and gives them a voice in what happens in their area.