Melton Village Plan

image of Village Plan documentIn November 2003 The Melton Parish Council decided to produce a Village Plan so that it would be possible to get a clear picture of the village as was then, and to discover what residents felt about it, and what they might want to see preserved or changed

Pressure of traffic

Amongst the reasons for the Parish Council deciding to undertake a Village Plan was the widespread perception that too much of the housing and commercial development in the district over recent years had been allocated to Melton, placing pressure on local roads, facilities and the natural environment. It was also perceived that there is a lack of affordable housing for local families on low, or even average, incomes.

The seemingly inexorable growth of road traffic through the village was a cause of much concern. All traffic from the Bawdsey/Orford peninsular (including the development of MOD Woodbridge at Sutton Heath and the extensive residential and commercial development at Rendlesham) had to pass over Wilford Bridge, across the level crossing at the railway station, past the primary school and through the village crossroads, there being no other suitable road. This route was already running over capacity at peak times (including “tourist peaks”), resulting in lengthy traffic queues (including an increasing proportion of heavy goods vehicles) effectively severing the village.

Other issues

Other issues brought to the attention of the parish council had included:-
• Demand for parking in and near the village centre conservation area far exceeded the capacity of the small off-street car park, with resultant inappropriate on-street parking.
• Partial singling of the railway in the 1980s restricted the service to a two-hourly frequency.
• Bus services were subject to frequent change, and were especially infrequent at peak hours, on weekday evenings and on Sundays.
• Much high quality environment (e.g. much of Melton Woods) had already been lost to residential development, whilst any location with a river view was seen as a prime development site. The location of existing commercial development was also placing pressure on the riverside and its associated flood-plain.
• Over recent years, the village had lost its sub-post office, its general stores and its fruit and vegetable shop.

The need for a plan

Melton is a diverse and interesting place to live, amongst its greatest assets being the riverside and local woodland walks. Its rapid growth and changing population, coupled with the lack of any recent community engagement, meant that its future deserved to be planned carefully and in partnership with those who live, work and play in the village.

The village (or parish) plan process was set up as a three-year pilot programme by the Countryside Agency in 2001; by 2004, over 1,000 villages across England had set out on this road. Melton was one of the larger villages to do so, although by no means the largest. At the core of the Village Plan Process is the idea that local people know best. More local involvement is needed in planning and managing local services and environment. The Village Plan gives local people the opportunity to influence the decisions which affect the area they live in.

Over 50% response

The Melton Village Plan required the preparation of a complex and detailed questionnaire which was delivered to every household in the village.  The work was enormous and was directed (and largely done) by a steering group of about a dozen independent local people, all volunteers.  Almost a hundred other local people volunteered to act as guinea pigs to complete a trial questionnaire, to deliver and collect the forms or to enter the data collected in response to the 82 questions that were asked.

962 out of the total of 1,810 households in the village responded to the questionnaire and the Parish Council were delighted to receive so much information and support.  It showed clearly, and in great detail, the things that were, and still are, important to the people of Melton.  It would be too optimistic to say that every wish can be granted, but the guidance that has been given by the residents will be of value in the years to come to the Parish Council in exercising its own responsibilities and in the way that it deals with the other local authorities and with the departments of government.

Priorities

The Plan sets out, in Section 6 a programme of recommended actions and their relative priority.  For some of these, it will be for Melton Parish Council to take action, but the majority will fall to the larger councils and public authorities to implement as part of their on-going delivery of public services.

The definitive version of the Melton Village Plan was presented to the Parish Council on 9th. November 2005.

A full copy may be found here - this is a PDF : Click to view. Right click to download  file, Click to Get Adobe Reader herethat requires AdobeAcrobat Reader - click the graphic, right to download a copy.