2. Background

2.1 What is a Parish Plan?

Parish Plans were launched in 2001 as part of the ‘Vital Villages’ scheme being run by the Countryside Agency. Vital Villages offers a range of grants and advice to rural communities to help them take action on the issues that affect them. The idea behind Parish Plans is that residents should have an opportunity to take stock of their parish, identify what their parish needs and bring this information together in a practical document.

In November 2001 Silverdale Parish Council expressed interest in creating a Parish Plan.

2.2 Why do we need one?

The Parish Council felt the Plan could be a good opportunity to give everyone a chance to say what they thought about living in Silverdale and how they would like it to be improved in the future. They also hoped that a Parish Plan would act as a lever to raise funds to improve the parish facilities and act as a catalyst for community action locally.

The Plan is aimed at all those who might have a role in helping to deliver the aspirations of the village for improvement. These include:

  • Local residents
  • Local businesses
  • Local organisations, clubs etc.
  • The Parish Council
  • Lancaster City Council
  • Lancashire County Council
  • The North West Development Agency
  • The Countryside Agency
  • Other national and regional bodies

It can be used in a variety of ways:

  • As an agreed framework for local action on the ground
  • To support bids for funding from local, regional and national bodies
  • To feed into the statutory development plan, either as Supplementary Guidance to the Local Plan or an Action Plan under the new Local Development Framework.

2.3 How have we gone about it?

Silverdale was invited to become a pilot project in Lancashire for the Countryside Agency to look at what was entailed in creating a Parish Plan and what kind and level of support parishes needed. In addition to the £5,000 grant awarded to any parish undertaking a parish plan process, Silverdale was given the free support of a Manchester based consultancy, Pathways.

Silverdale Parish Council set up a small steering group to manage the process of creating a Parish Plan. This group included members of the wider community and in particular the Silverdale Neighbourhood Watch Group.

The process of creating a Parish Plan begins with wide community consultation to gather the views of people living in the Parish. Silverdale however had already conducted an extensive Village Appraisal in 1997. It was decided therefore that the consultation would begin by checking the main issues that had emerged from this consultation. Accordingly a postal questionnaire was sent out to every household to gather votes on the main priorities from the Appraisal.

In order to check further the results of the Village Appraisal, Pathways conducted an additional consultation with community groups and on the streets of the village centre. Around 100 people were surveyed in this way. The analysis of the results showed that there were ten key issues important to people living in Silverdale. These were:

  • Supporting shops and local businesses
  • Protecting Public services
  • Village Centre
  • Transport
  • Children and Parents
  • Young People
  • The Countryside
  • Housing and Development
  • Older People
  • Sports and Recreation

A Village Conference was organised in September 2002, to gather more detailed information on these ten issues. For each issue we asked for more information on:

  • what was already working well in that area
  • what any problems were in that area, and
  • what should be done to improve the situation.

Nearly 400 people attended the Village Conference, which was an outstanding success, and a huge amount of additional information was gathered for each area.

Throughout the consultation, we learned that people love living in Silverdale; they value the peace and quiet, the beautiful countryside, the friendly and active community, and good village facilities. In addition there are particular things that are working especially well in Silverdale and some areas that people would like to see improved.  These are described under the relevant topic heading in the rest of this Plan.

The next stage of the Parish Plan process was to take the wants and needs expressed through the consultation and to look whether and how these can be turned into reality. This was the Action Planning phase of the process. At the Village Conference people were asked to volunteer to sit on Action Groups to develop the ideas from the consultation further. Eight Action Groups addressing the above issues (some of which were combined) were set up with these volunteers and they met and reported back to Parish Council representatives during the first three months of 2003.

This draft Parish Plan sets out the results of their deliberations and describes what action will be taken by whom to achieve the goals they and the Parish Council have set.  The next eight chapters summarise the results of the consultation for each issue, including any additional consultation that mat have been done by the Action Group, the findings of each Action Group and their recommendations for action.