There seems to be much consternation that WODC have not publicised the formal consultation on the Eynsham Neighbourhood Plan and residents are concerned that they are unable to comment.
It is important to understand the nature of this consultation so that no one is worrying unnecessarily about making a comment.
The current consultation is very specific - the form asks for comments on specific sections of the ENP and all comments will simply go to the Inspector along with the plan and she will determine if the plan is 'sound' (i.e. compliant with relevant regulations) and can proceed to a referendum of local residents.
The previous consultation, which we held at the end of last year, allowed residents to make any comment they wanted about the draft plan. We went through every comment received, we included anything which improved the plan and wrote up what we had changed or, in some cases, why we could not or did not need to make any change.
For the current consultation, none of the comments can be used to change the ENP.
The only changes permitted now are those that the inspector requires to make the ENP legally sound, which usually means removing anything she considers is 'unsound'.
To that extent, the only comments that will have a material impact are those which draw the inspectors attention to something which is non-compliant with regulations and therefore unsound.
We are very appreciative of support for the plan and would not want to prevent anyone from making comments if they want to but it is important to understand the nature of this consultation and no one who finds the process difficult need be concerned if they don't make any comment.
Support will be most useful in both voting for and encouraging others to vote for the plan when the referendum comes.
It will be particularly important to explain to those who haven't followed all the local plan details that voting against the Neighbourhood Plan will not stop the West Oxfordshire Plan with its 1000 houses to the west and a Garden Village north of the A40, despite the WODC logo which will be on the referendum forms!
If the ENP fails, the developers will have an entirely free hand to do what they like west and north of Eynsham, particularly if the WODC plan is delayed.