Neighbourhood plan


What is a Neighbourhood Plan?

A Neighbourhood Plan is a statement of how a community wants to develop over the next decade or so, and is part of the formal planning process.
Parish plans have been around for some time as the concept of ‘community led planning’ has evolved to give local residents and businesses a greater say in their parishes’ future.  More recently, the idea has also spread from rural communities to neighbourhoods within towns and cities which are not usually divided into parishes, so plans are now called “Neighbourhood Plans”.

Preparation of a Neighbourhood Plan usually comprises three main steps:

In order to be effective, a neighbourhood plan needs to be based on evidence and must reflect the views of the whole community.

Why does Marden need a Neighbourhood Plan?

Marden already has two important documents which address aspects of a neighbourhood plan.  These are:

  • TheMarden Design Statement, produced in 2001, which went further than many other village design statements and was targeted at influencing the local planning authority (Maidstone Borough Council) and developers.  It has been adopted as Supplementary Planning Guidance which can be used when deciding planning applications but is in need of updating.
  • TheCommunity Plan Action Plan, produced in 2007, which concentrated on the actions that parish organisations could take in the short term to address some of the problems and opportunities that had been identified.  This achieved its initial goals, but could be reviewed to look further ahead and promote actions which need input from outside bodies.

More recently, the Government has been developing its ‘Big Society’ agenda through the Localism Bill which is designed to decentralise power to local communities.  Although not finalised yet, these proposals are likely to mean that neighbourhood plans carry much more weight in the future. Having a Neighbourhood Plan in place would allow the residents and businesses of Marden to influence future developments including the type of housing, where developments could be situated, and other service issues including transport links, drains, education etc.

As all decisions on future developments are made by Maidstone Borough Council, our Neighbourhood Plan is needed to be in place as soon as possible. Consequently a Steering Group Group was set up to develop such a plan for Marden in 2013.

After many meetings, open days, consultations, workshops and attendance at village events a draft document and supporting documents have been produced.  The draft documents are now with Maidstone Borough Council to view and following any amendments a further six week consultation (known as Regulation 14) will then be carried out.

Following the consultation Maidstone Borough Council  submitted the plan to an independent examiner for examination. He found that, subject to some minor changes, the plan meets the “Basic Conditions and other Legal Requirements” and should proceed to Referendum, which is the next stage of the approval process. He Summarises:

“It is clear that the Marden Neighbourhood Plan is the product of much hard work undertaken since 2012 by the Parish Council, the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group and by the many individuals and stakeholders who have contributed to the preparation and development of the Plan.  There is no doubt in my view that the Plan reflects the aspirations and objectives of the Marden community for their future development up to 2031.  The output is a Plan which should help guide the area’s development over that period, making a positive contribution to informing decision-making on planning applications by Maidstone Borough Council.”

The next stage is for  Maidstone Borough Council to hold a referendum with the public.This  will be held on 27th Feb 2020 in Memorial Hall, just like an election but you are only allowed to vote yes or no. Polling cards have been issued. We are all urged to support this so it can be adopted which will allow a greater level of influence of the Parish council. A formal decision will then be produced and published.

The draft Neighbourhood Plan can be viewed on the Parish council website at: