Re-visiting the Petersfield Neighbourhood Plan

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Back in 2013, Snug Architects were commissioned by Petersfield Town Council to develop a conceptual masterplan for the future of the town as part of the Petersfield Neighbourhood Plan. This formed part of an exemplary programme of public engagement that would underpin the successful adoption of the Neighbourhood Plan. The Petersfield Neighbourhood Development Plan now forms part of the Local Plan policy used by the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA)when determining Planning Applications in Petersfield. It was formally adopted by the SDNPA on the 21st January 2016.

Snug Architects undertook a comprehensive review of the town and its context, located at the centre of the South Downs National Park ,as well as work previously prepared by the PNP Steering Group. We then helped to developed and deliver a public consultation strategy that engaged with both residents and landowners. Our approach was to clearly articulate the core issues and options in graphical form. Initially we prepared supporting material for an Option Weekend.

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This was the culmination of the previous 8 months of community engagement activities and marked a milestone in the PNP project. The intent was to present a number of aspects of the emerging plan to the public and gauge their opinion. The event was heavily promoted through the local press, an email distribution list, mail shot to all households (circa 6000) in Petersfield, banners at key locations around town and bus shelter branding was updated with “strap stickers”. Following the Options Weekend all of the information on display could also be viewed and comments submitted on the PNP website. Over 500 people visited the event and provided over 1500 comments.

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As a key part of this day we made a series of rolling presentations with space for questions and answers. This provided a critical opportunity for peoples opinions to be heard and validated and, importantly, for clear and specific responses to be articulated. This significantly improved the depth of public understanding for the proposals. Following this we worked in conjunction with Allies and Morrison to host a participatory Planning Design Event. We also developed more detailed proposals for key housing sites where visual impact was a specific concern. Petersfield was the first town in the South Downs National Park to have it’s own Neighbourhood Plan. It was a privilege to work with such an engaged and motivated community to help plan the future of their settlement. The people of Petersfield clearly know what it means to ‘love where live’ and it made all the difference.