THE NEIGHBOURHOOD Plan process launched two years ago to map out how Droitwich should look in the future has been suspended after the town council deemed it ‘unsustainable in its present form’.
Coun Richard Morris, who led the process since it began, has resigned as the town council’s representative and from his role as chairman of the group.
He said the community had put in a tremendous amount of work to support a vision for Droitwich which was soon to go out to consultation. He was saddened by the decision.
“A Neighbourhood Plan would have created a clear future for Droitwich and been decided by Droitwich residents.”
Coun Angela Hawkins said she was also disappointed.
“All the way through it was not supported by some members and there seemed to be stalling at meetings which prevented it making headway.”
She said she wanted it to go to consultation so public opinion could have been taken into account.
She branded the alternative option mooted by the council for a Town Plan as ‘inadequate’ as it would not have the same impact when planning applications were considered.
A member of the NHP committee who did not want to be named said the section of the meeting which included the discussions and decision to halt the plan should not have been heard behind closed doors as it was in the public interest.
Members of the Neighbourhood Group would have addressed the concerns and refuted the claims had they been able to.
A workshop with the Wychavon District Council managing director and leader aimed at helping town councillors understand what a neighbourhood plan was and to clear up any misunderstandings was never set up.
He also questioned one of the reasons given that the town clerk was spending too much time on the plan.
“That level of input was not asked for by the group and was part of a contract with the NHP consultant which was only seen by the group months after it had been signed.”
A Droitwich Town Council spokesperson said the decision being taken in private was done because the discussion contained confidential information involving financial and legal matters.
He said the reason was explained in the public meeting beforehand.
The resolution explained the plan was suspended because it was unsustainable in its present form.
It added the present town council recommended the next one, following the next election in May 2019, could set up a Town Plan for Droitwich Spa if it wanted.
It was also resolved the town clerk, with the emergency committee of the town council, should renegotiate the contract with the NHP consultant.