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New Romney Town Council cancels Neighbourhood Plan after low public response and cost fears

By Sam Lennon

A plan for the future development of New Romney is to be scrapped because of poor public feedback and the risk of soaring costs.

Too few people responded to the questionnaires, and pushing the New Romney’s neighbourhood plan forward with consultants would cost the taxpayer as much as £70,000.

Other plans such as for a new community hall or sports pavilion are separate and are expected to go ahead.

New Romney town clerk Catherine Newcombe.
New Romney town clerk Catherine Newcombe.

Town clerk Catherine Newcombe said in a statement: “It is with regret that New Romney Town Council will not be proceeding with a neighbourhood plan for the parish.

“But the general consensus of opinion of the majority of councillors was that while it was extremely disappointing to cease the development of a neighbourhood plan for the parish of New Romney, it was a sensible one bearing in mind the need to protect taxpayers’ money.”

The pop-up shop in New Romney High Street that was used for the Neighbourhood Plan public consultation.
The pop-up shop in New Romney High Street that was used for the Neighbourhood Plan public consultation.

Councillors had agreed to give up on the plan at a recent special meeting.

They had received a small number of responses to questionnaires.

Most of those completed were by residents in their 60s and above who said they did not want any change to the parish.

They believed that the lack of public involvement made it unlikely that a plan would be passed by the independent inspector.

The council had also lost their in-house expert, Cllr Michael Cox, who had retired earlier this year. He had been working on the scheme as a retired town planner.

It would cost £20,000 to £70,000 to use a planning consultant in his place, which would have to come directly from parish taxpayers.

The council says details of the plan would also mirror those in the Shepway Core Strategy Local Plan.

It will now ask Shepway District Council’s planning department who should be given the information gathered from the consultation so far.

Ideas from a wish list the council had put out to consultation last autumn, such as High Street improvements, will be used to draft a far smaller community-led document. This would detail possible future projects within the parish.

The council stressed that a scheme for a community hall and/or sports pavilion has not been abandoned as that is on separate document, the Capital Spending Plan.

New Romney had launched a six-week public consultation last October and November, putting forward ideas such as a new community hall and a heritage centre.

The idea of a swimming pool was rejected because the council believed it would not have enough money to build and maintain it.

Local people were consulted through the use of a pop-up shop at the former Nationwide building society branch in the High Street.

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