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Our Neighbourhood Plan project

(And more details about the what, the why, the how, the who, and the when...)

What is a Neighbourhood Plan?

A neighbourhood plan is a community-led plan which aims to guide the future development, regeneration and conservation of a specific area. It is created by residents and parish councillors in association with town planners. Once a Neighbourhood Plan is voted in (via a local referendum), local planning authorities must adhere to the Neighbourhood Plan when making planning decisions in that area.

In a nutshell, it gives communities like Totton and Eling a voice in the planning system, and a way to shape the future of our town.

Why is this useful?

Historically, individual towns and areas haven’t had many powers to determine policies and decisions in their areas in the UK. On a large scale, we have seen increasing complaints in recent years about government centralisation and how this isn’t good for communities who have unique needs. In response to this, the Localism Act 2011 was passed which included a whole suite of new community rights – including the Neighbourhood Development Plan.

In Totton and Eling, we fall under the New Forest District Council. However, we are a bit of an odd fit compared to much of the rest of the area our district council covers. We are the largest and most diverse town in the New Forest. As a result, we have some very different needs and some of the centralised planning decisions of our district council haven’t been particularly good for Totton and Eling.

Additionally, having a clear idea of what kind of future we want to have will help the town council and other organisations to plan and create sustainable initiatives. 

Creating a neighbourhood plan for Totton and Eling is a tool to empower our town, allowing us to state our needs and plan our future.

A Shared vision -

"Totton is a great book that needs a new cover"

There is an awful lot to love about living in Totton and Eling. What draws many new house buyers is the fantastic location that is close to city, forest, and motorway connections. But probably the biggest boon to living here is the strength of our community; we have more council-run facilities than any other town or parish council in the country. On our doorstep we have the amazing heritage of Eling Tide Mill, the incredible arts venue of Hanger Farm Arts Centre, a skate park, a youth centre, three paddling pools and multiple community centres offering clubs, societies, classes and groups. This is our major inheritance from our town’s past as ‘the biggest village in England’ – a title we held with pride until we officially became a town in 1974.

Eling Tide Mill
Eling Tide Mill

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Eling Tide Mill
Eling Tide Mill

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Salmon Leap
Salmon Leap

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However, our town is more than a bit drab around the edges. We have been sadly neglected in beautification projects over the years and it shows. We’ve not had any major redevelopments in the town centre since the 1970s, and changes desperately need to be made in order to futureproof our town centre and infrastructure in particular. We can see increasing problems with traffic, with pollution, with accessibility. Especially as our population is continuing to grow.

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Totton and Eling is a lovely place to live, but we want to make it a fantastic place to live. Somewhere that looks beautiful, and is practical for the modern needs of our town which have changed so vastly over the last 50 years.

With a Neighbourhood Plan, we have a path forward to making this happen.

How does it work?

What we’ve already done 

Totton and Eling Town Council formed a Neighbourhood Plan committee formed of town councillors, town planning officers and residents. The committee meets on the first Wednesday of every month and is open to all residents (details here). Several rounds of public consultation, evidence gathering and idea collection have already happened (you may have noticed or even filled out some of our paper questionnaires and surveys which have been at our community venues, and our committee members have also collated data about things like our public transport links/options, and surveyed how frequently our car parks are full).

All of this information has gone into our initial draft plan. We are currently in the process of fleshing out the details of our Neighbourhood Plan vision via more resident consultation, backing it up with more evidence, and consulting planning and architectural experts.

Next steps

  • More consultation with residents (events and workshops)

  • Consulting with the New Forest District Planning team to tie our plan in with the Local Plan

  • Applying for funding to get plans professionally drawn/illustrated

We will then be ready to move towards publicising and having our referendum. This will be a vote open to all eligible voters in the Totton and Eling parish boundary. It will be held in your local polling station just like any other local election.

Ways to get involved

We are always looking for more residents to get involved. We want to hear the voices of as many people from Totton and Eling as possible – we know how many good ideas you all have! This is also a huge project so every bit of help is valuable. If you are able to volunteer any time or specialist skills we would love to hear from you. We need help with everything from research and admin to event organisation and marketing. The best way to volunteer is to contact us.