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Frequently Asked Questions


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1.  What is a Neighbourhood Forum?

A Neighbourhood Forum is a designated organisation or group empowered to lead the neighbourhood planning process in a Neighbourhood Area. Full membership is open to people who live or work in the Neighbourhood Area. The Ottershaw Neighbourhood Forum got designated by Runnymede Borough Council on 14th October 2020.


2.  What is a Neighbourhood Area?

A Neighbourhood Area is the designated area to be covered by the Neighbourhood Plan a Neighbourhood Forum is developing. It must not overlap with any surrounding Neighbourhood Areas. For Ottershaw, the Neighbourhood Area designated by RBC on 14th October 2020 is a logical contiguous area centred on the built-up area known as Ottershaw.


3.  What is a Neighbourhood Plan?

A Neighbourhood Plan is a document that includes policies which must be given serious weight when a planning application is submitted for approval. A Neighbourhood Plan has the same standing as a Council Local Plan and the National Planning Policy Framework and cannot be ignored. Planning Officers and Planning Committees are legally obliged to test submitted planning applications against the policies contained in these documents.  Without a neighbourhood plan there is minimal planning control at the local (Neighbourhood Area) level.


4.  Who can join the Ottershaw Neighbourhood Forum?

Full membership is open to all people age 18 or over who live, work or own business premises/property within the Ottershaw Neighbourhood Area. Others can join as associate members.

5.  What is the time commitment if I join the Ottershaw Neighbourhood Forum?

None. However, Forum members are encouraged to participate in the activities of the Forum, which will vary over time. Topical working groups will form for short periods at the direction of the Forum Steering Committee to address specific tasks. Surveys will be sent out to gather important data and feedback.


6.  Is Ottershaw Neighbourhood Forum membership free?

Yes, Forum membership is absolutely free. There is no membership charge, and our funding will be provided primarily through government grant awards, supplemented by income from donations and fundraising.  The budget will be made up of expert advice, advertising, marketing, meeting venue and admin costs.


7.  What is the organisational construct of our Ottershaw Neighbourhood Forum?

The Ottershaw Neighbourhood Forum is an unincorporated association, governed by a constitution. Forum members elect a Steering Committee of up to 10 Forum members each year, which manages the operation, functions, and membership of the Forum.


8.  What non-financial resources are available to the Ottershaw Neighbourhood Forum?

The Forum has access to Runnymede Borough Council for planning, financial management and technical/policy assistance. The Planning Department at Runnymede has dedicated staff that are available to assist in Neighbourhood Planning who will readily provide help and guidance. We are also using best practice advice of other local Neighbourhood Forums together with Locality and Groundwork Neighbourhood Planning experts.  Following advice from other Neighbourhood Forums, the Steering Committee (on behalf of the Forum) has engaged expert consultants to provide support throughout the Neighbourhood Plan development process.


9.  What is the relationship between our Ottershaw Neighbourhood Plan and the Runnymede Local Plan?

Whilst the Local Plan covers the whole of the Runnymede Borough our Neighbourhood Plan will focus specifically on the needs of the Ottershaw Neighbourhood Area. Our Plan must complement the Local Plan whilst providing more detail where required. The critical aspect of a neighbourhood plan is that it is community rather than government led.


10.  What time period should our Neighbourhood Plan cover?

There is no mandated time period, but as an effective Neighbourhood Plan will need to be informed by and itself inform the next Local Plan, it would be sensible to align both time periods. The current Runnymede Local Plan 2030 (adopted in July 2020) only covers the next 10 years, so the following iteration will most likely look out to 2040.
Local Plans and Neighbourhood Plans are reviewed every five years. 


11.  Can our Ottershaw Neighbourhood Plan have a positive impact on development in our Neighbourhood Area?

Yes, it can.  In the short term, as we develop our Plan and associated policies through our Forum activities, we will be consulted and have a recognised voice with Runnymede Borough Council.  Should our plan pass Referendum and come into effect it will become a key legal component of the planning and approvals process across our Area.  Ottershaw will also receive additional funding from developments which it can utilise to expand, develop our existing or new amenities.  Our Forum will have a say in the scope and design of residential housing planning and other developments beyond that identified in the Runnymede Local Plan.


12.  Are there examples of ways in which other local communities have been successful in influencing planning through their Neighbourhood Plan?

The Neighbourhood Planning process has been in effect for nearly 10 years and there are several local areas who have either developed Neighbourhood Plans or are in the process of doing so. West Byfleet, Thorpe, Virginia Water, Windlesham and Hook Heath are examples of this community led process. Where established, Neighbourhood Plans have already proved to be instrumental in shaping the development within their respective Neighbourhood Areas.


13.  How do we ensure our Plan is representative of the people of our Ottershaw Area?

Through the active participation of our Areas residents’ and business owners. Our Neighbourhood Forum will engage with a wide variety of people locally – residents, businesses, landowners, community groups, schools – to discover what’s important to them about where they live, what they’d like to improve and what their vision is for our Neighbourhood Area. Building upon this, our Neighbourhood Plan will contain planning policies that will make our community’s vision a reality.


14.  How do we go about ensuring that the make-up of our Ottershaw Neighbourhood Forum represents the Ottershaw Neighbourhood Area?

By encouraging as many people as possible to join! A Neighbourhood Area wide publicity campaign, which is aimed at informing everyone in the Area of our Forum and our Plan is already established. The campaign will be maintained throughout the process and adjusted accordingly, to ensure that the membership is drawn from a diverse mix of householders, businesses and communities across our whole Neighbourhood Area.


15.  How do we ensure ‘wide community consultation’?​

In order to make the process as open and transparent as possible,  publicity and awareness-raising activities will be carried out throughout the process.  This will include leafletting, social media, website, posters, local press, local events and direct engagement with residents, local community groups, organisations and businesses.  Additionally, targeted surveys will help gather the wishes and views of our local Ottershaw population.

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