Bawtry is much loved by its residents. It is a pretty market town with a rich history, cohesive identity and some highly valued resources. Visitors also enjoy the town, which is noted for its range of restaurants and upmarket shops. There is concern, however, about the town’s current state and about how it is changing:
“The best shops are closing down.”
“There are too many bars.”
“There are too many HGVs and all the traffic goes too fast.”
“Its impossible to cross the main road near where I live.”
“The car park is awful.”
“Bawtry is too much for visitors and not enough for residents.”
“The town is becoming shabby – the pavements are terrible.”
But grumbling to each other doesn’t change anything. Here’s a way to actually get something done – to protect what is best about Bawtry and to steer the town’s future development.
Local planning is managed by Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council. Bawtry Town Council, other local organisations and individuals can and do make comments and recommendations – but the decisions are made by DMBC, sometimes appearing to disregard those comments.
Now there’s a way to shift the balance of power a bit. The Government’s Localism Act of 2011 introduced Neighbourhood Plans, to give local people more say in what happens. As well as planning policies, Neighbourhood Plans can include other “non-planning” policies related to such matters as highways, traffic or any other relevant issues that are important to the town. Decisions will still be made by the local Planning Authority (DMBC) – but they have to be consistent with the Neighbourhood Plan.
Bawtry Town Council agreed that a Neighbourhood Plan should be produced. A Steering Group has been established, consisting of local residents and representatives from groups and organisations within the town, including the Town Council, Bawtry Residents’ Group and Bawtry Retail Association. The Plan covers the entire Parish of Bawtry.
As part of the Plan, we need to gather the views of the community. We’re doing that by means of a questionnaire delivered to every house and business, by meeting with local groups, and by consulting with the Town Council and Bawtry Residents Group.
We need to identify what it is about Bawtry that should be protected, and what issues there are that need addressing. A big issue on the horizon is the allocation – by DMBC – of sites for new housing development. Given the shortage of new housing, it is likely that some of it will be in Bawtry – and the volume could be substantial. The Neighbourhood Plan could be very influential in deciding where this ought to go.
The Neighbourhood Plan will be important to everyone who lives, or works, in Bawtry. It is, therefore, vitally important that it does accurately reflect residents’ views.
We’ve only had 130 questionnaires completed. The contents of those are summarised below. (If you haven’t completed a questionnaire, you can do so today.) We’ve analysed those, and supplemented the information with the views of Bawtry Town Council, Bawtry Residents Group, and of children at Mayflower Primary School. Where issues have been identified, we’ve tried to come up with ways of addressing them.
The purpose of this exhibition is to check we’ve got it right. Please tell us!