FRANT PARISH; SERVING YOUR NEEDS
The Government published a rural white paper “Our Countryside the Future” that proposed that all rural communities should develop “Town, Village and Parish Plans” to identify what problems should be resolved for people in the Community and then assemble a plan that not only addresses those problems but also identifies and proposes solutions to problems that could arise in the future.
In response to this initiative, Frant Parish Council formed a Steering Group, made up from community members who have produced this Plan for you.
Your Parish; Its Special Characteristics
Frant Parish Council area extends from east to west three times the distance as from north to south and is significantly affected by three “transport corridors” radiating out from Tunbridge Wells and ultimately, from London. The impact of these corridors is:
Heavily impacted by the A267 and the Hastings railway line.
Bells Yew Green & Bayham
Impacted by the B2169 and the Hastings railway line.
Heavily impacted by the A26 and Eridge railway line.
Whilst each of these corridors impact heavily on one community, they are often of little significance to the other two. Each of these three communities also experience very localised problems, particularly with shopping, parking and schools.
Because of these characteristics it was decided to consult, in detail and separately, these three areas of the Parish to ensure that localised needs were fully understood.
Discovering The Problems You Think Should Be Resolved
To be able to start with insights into the three communities in the Parish, the Steering Committee comprised of representatives from each community. Together they developed a questionnaire to be sent to every home and, where possible, every business, in the Parish. As a result 700 questionnaires were delivered by post and by hand. A 42% response rate was achieved by the closing date in March 2009. To even further understand local needs, the data from the Survey was examined down to the level of 16 districts within the three communities. This gave a very clear picture of what concerns exist in the communities.
As well as answering set questions, people were encouraged to add their own comments on topics that they felt were important which meant that an additional 1,300 individual responses were received. This rich feedback provided a firm foundation for a Plan that both addressed the needs of the individual communities and of the Parish as a whole.
The Parish Plan
The Plan specifies desired outcomes that are too detailed to be included here, but they can be viewed on the Parish website. A summary of the plans are:
The Whole Parish Area
- Acknowledging the sense of involvement
Respondents to the Questionnaire were as young as 13 and as old as 90 years of age all of who took great pains to provide information and demonstrated passionate feedback about what is needed in Frant Parish. The Plan acknowledges and works to solve those needs.
- The Environment
Ninety-four percent of respondents were either fairly concerned or very concerned, (71% were very concerned) about protecting the Parish environment. Supplementary answers made it very clear that this concern was about both environmental issues and also about preserving the rural atmosphere of the Parish so the Plan will work to preserve this environment.
- Additional Housing
Only 20% of respondents were not concerned about additional housing being developed in the Parish and therefore the Parish Plan will work to oppose all but the most justifiable and community-sensitive housing development.
- The Business Development
The Parish Plan supports business development that can create local jobs in the Parish and can be in harmony with preserving the rural environment.
Shops are not only regarded as an essential amenity for meeting the every day needs of the Community, but they also provide a social function and a vital service for the elderly and those with restricted mobility. Therefore the Plan supports the provision of shops to meet the every day needs of residents, will encourage the viable development of these shops and ensure that there is the necessary infrastructure, particularly in the form of parking, to help these shops survive in what is recognised as somewhat precarious trading circumstances.
Eight-five per cent of respondents want more control over vehicle speeds and movement of traffic in the Parish and the Plan will work with agencies to lower speed limits on roads, install traffic calming where possible and enforce speed limits even though this may sometimes alienate some local residents who break speed limits or object to calming measures because of additional noise caused through speed bumps or gear changing.
- Size of Vehicles
The Village Plan will work to restrict the use of minor roads by large vehicles that are following directions from satellite navigation.
Whilst there was general satisfaction with the railway services, the Parish Plan will work in conjunction with the Rail Users Action Group to ensure that service is maintained and will work to improve infrastructure such as parking where needed.
- Deer Collisions
Increasing numbers of deer on our roads have now become a traffic safety issue and the Parish Plan will work to provide better education of motorists in dealing with this issue and install and improve warning signs in all vulnerable areas.
- Bus Services
The small proportion of the community that uses buses were fairly satisfied with the service, but schedules could be improved and access to bus stops could be easier. When this is achieved, people report that they will use the buses more. Therefore, the Plan will work to facilitate greater usage of buses and look at improving the current service for Little Bayham and Bells Yew Green to Frant.
Whilst increasing parking can lead to compounding of problems and compromise the rural atmosphere, there are certain locations where increased parking facilities could improve road safety, add to the convenience of the community and be particularly beneficial to the viability of local shops and the safety of children on their way to school. Therefore, the Plan will work to identify sites for parking that can satisfy these needs without compromising the rural atmosphere in the Parish and to insist that future developments provide ample parking space.
People in the community feel strongly about recycling their waste and want more recycling centres available and appropriate collection facilities at their homes. On the other hand, it is clear that some ideas currently being used elsewhere, are not fully addressing the problems of recycling. The Parish Plan will improve the recycling facilities throughout the Parish but will be at pains to ensure that any recycling activities are for the total good of the environment and not simply cosmetic.
- Parish Communications
Respondents value the main communication (“Parish Plus”) but there are clearly distribution problems in getting these to people and therefore a study will be undertaken to identify if web-based communications can communicate more widely, give more real time information to the community and encourage more active involvement of residents and businesses.
- Safety & Security
People throughout the community generally feel safe with regard to crime and social order but still require more reassurance about what is being done to preserve this and to prevent this feeling of well-being eroding. The Parish Plan will work to improve better interaction between the Police and the community.
The Steering Group has endeavoured to address both existing problems and also to anticipate future problems but with the World rapidly changing, the Plan will need updating at least every five years.
Turning the Parish Plan into Beneficial Outcomes
Having completed the Plan, it is now time to work towards outcomes. To do that, volunteers are needed from the three Communities to help with the delivery mechanisms.
Volunteers are currently required for roles as area representatives for the three communities, and to Chair the Strategy Group. Also volunteers will be needed from time to time, who have specialist skills in the fields of:
- Public services
- Road transport
- Rail transport
- Community communications
- Safety and security
- Social and Environment
Volunteers for the Strategy Group will need to give one evening a month and occasionally additional time to their particular areas of specialisation.
Volunteers to serve in specialist fields will be invited to ad-hoc committees working on particular topics.
It is hoped to have the Strategy Group operational early in 2010.
How Can You Make a Difference?
You can volunteer to be a member of the Parish Plan Strategy Group by contacting:
Mrs Sarah Codling
Work Phone: 01892 530404
Those members of the community who were involved with producing the Action Plan were:
Roy Harris (Parish Councillor)
Source: Frant Parish Plan: DOCUMENT GETTING THE PARISH OF FRANT MORE THE WAY YOU WANT IT TO BE