Bellway residents had previously been advised that they were part of the Little Waltham Parish and as such began developing a relationship with the Parish Council during the Summer of 2018 to explore how they could work closely together for the benefit of the community.
At a meeting held with the Little Waltham Parish Clerk in the Autumn of 2018, it transpired that there was confusion as to which Parish Council the Channels development actually sat in. It appears that the previous electoral roll was incorrect which had given rise to a misunderstanding in relation to which properties were included in which Parish.
This was clarified in November 2018 as follows:
The Bellway Homes development comprising Brassie Wood, Fairway Drive, Jigger Gardens, Mashie Link and Niblick Green all fall within the Parish of Broomfield. Those residents living in 6-12 evens and 13-23 odds of Birdie Close on the Croudace part of the development also fall within the Parish of Broomfield.
The Croudace Homes properties (Albatross Way, Birdie Close, Condor Way) are in the Parish of Little Waltham together with existing roads of Domsey Lane and Belstead’s Farm Lane. The new properties being built behind the Croudace development and on Belstead’s Farm Lane on the way to Channels Golf Club will all be in the Little Waltham Parish.
At the far end of that development there is the junction of 3 Parish Boundaries so some of the new properties yet to be built may fall into Little Waltham, Broomfied or Springfield depending on the precise development plan.
There was a general feeling that as the Channels development had been planned as a local community, it seemed sensible to keep it this way which was something that would be enhanced by working with a single, like minded Parish Council.
For example our village green and open spaces (once finished) will all sit in the Parish of Little Waltham whilst our Parish contribution to Council Tax goes to Broomfield, a very large Parish from which we are less likely to see any tangible benefit.
The CRCG conducted a quick poll of Bellway residents in December 2018 and the overwhelming majority (98%), indicated a preference to be part of the same Parish as the rest of the Channels development i.e. Little Waltham. As such the Parish Council formally noted that it would support the CRCG in working with the City Council to request an amendment to the Parish boundary.
Community Governance Review
In recent years, the Government has been keen to encourage more community engagement and this gives us the right to challenge the position of the Parish boundary through a Community Governance Review, a process which would be carried out by the City Council.
Bellway Channels residents, as local electors, had to petition the council for a Community Governance Review to be undertaken and this must set out at least one recommendation that the petitioners want the review to consider making, which in this case was the alteration of boundaries of existing parishes set in the context of the following:
- Provision of a strong, inclusive community which is reflective of the identities and interests of the wider Channels development;
- A sense of place – a place with a ‘positive’ feeling for people and local distinctiveness;
- The importance of community governance arrangements on community cohesion;
- Appropriate size, population and geographical boundaries of a local community.
For the petition to be valid it had to meet certain conditions. The first of these conditions is that a petition must be signed by the requisite number of local electors and based on the number of units on the Bellway Phase 1/2 development (and the few houses on the Croudace development as noted above), at least 37.5% of local electors would need to sign the petition.
A number of residents will recall signing a petition at the end of 2018 and beginning of 2019. Unfortunately when the petition was submitted, it transpired that many people that had signed were not registered electors and more signatures had to be sourced. After a couple of further iterations a final petition was submitted in early April 2019.
Unfortunately with local and then EU elections looming, the City Council did not see the petition as a priority and consequently when it was checked again in early June 2019, it still fell short of the requisite number of signatures. Whilst the number of residents had not increased significantly, many had since registered as local electors and this meant that the number of signatures required (due to the 37.5% threshold) had risen.
More signatures were collected throughout the summer of 2019 however due to other priorities (the procurement and mobilisation of a new managing agent being the main one), the petition has still not been formally accepted. This will remain an ongoing project!