Congresbury hall project to go to referendum
PUBLISHED: 14:10 11 May 2016 | UPDATED: 14:10 11 May 2016
Plans to build a new village hall in Congresbury have taken a major step forward, after it was confirmed villagers will have a chance to vote on the proposal through a referendum later this year.
The Congresbury New Village Hall Development Trust wants to build the hall, along with a community café and a car park, on the King George V Playing Fields off Stonewell Drive.
The trust has planned the scheme through a Community Right to Build (CRtB) order, which meant the plans were considered by an independent planning inspector rather than going through North Somerset Council’s usual planning process.
Following an inspection earlier this year, examiner Andrew Ashcroft ruled the scheme meets the order’s requirements – subject to some alterations – and a final decision on whether the hall will be built will be put to the village in the form of a referendum, most likely in September.
Mr Ashcroft’s report said: “The project has been significantly underpinned by community engagement. It seeks to achieve sustainable development and reflects a specific range of social, environmental and economic issues.
“The proposed modifications to the conditions (of the order) ensure they comply with national planning policy and guidance and reflect more fully the local planning policies that have been promoted by North Somerset Council.”
The trust is the first community group in the UK to reach this stage of the CRtB process.
Its spokesman, Ian Sheppard, praised the team for its hard work and said the group would now focus on encouraging villagers to take part in the referendum.
Mr Sheppard said: “The project team have worked hard with the volunteers to get to this stage and now we can concentrate on trying to ensure as many villagers as possible vote, regardless of whether they support the proposals.
“This process allows villagers to decide whether the proposals are progressed and the village gets a new building it needs.
“We are pleased the examiner acknowledged that consultation and feedback had been at the heart of the order process throughout the various stages of its production. It generated considerable levels of community interest and engagement.”
Visit www.congnvh.org.uk to learn more about the trust’s plans.