Ashwell Neighbourhood Plan Regulation 16 Submission
10.1 Building a confident and socially connected community is an important part of health and wellbeing for Ashwell's residents, especially for those who are less mobile and need more support in accessing resources. In addition, retaining educational facilities, and supporting and growing these as necessary, will help to attract families to Ashwell.
Maintaining existing health services
10.2 Easy access to community health is an important consideration for all members of the community. Surveys conducted by Ipsos MORI and published in 2016 on behalf of NHS England indicated a high degree of satisfaction with the services provided at Ashwell Surgery and Ashwell Dental Surgery. The survey also showed that parishioners were, on the whole, satisfied with these care services as well as those provided for physiotherapy, osteopathy, and other general care services.
10.3 However, more recent anecdotal comments from residents suggest that, with the exception of emergencies, it is proving difficult to obtain an appointment with a GP at Ashwell Surgery in less than three weeks. This is a significant deterioration in service level, and one which can represent a cause of stress and / or frustration and / or a deterioration of health for the patient.
Figure 10.1 Pharmacy, High Street Ashwell
10.4 The major point that emerged from the 2016 General Survey was the overwhelming support for the pharmacy in the village. Two thirds of survey respondents said they always used the pharmacy and a further one third sometimes used it. Virtually everyone said they wanted to keep the pharmacy.
10.5 There was concern that the declining support for local retail shops will mean that the pharmacy may come under threat. This would be tragic for the community because the pharmacy not only supplies many over-the-counter medicines and goods, but it is a very important source of reliable health advice.
10.6 When asked if the care services in Ashwell showed respect, dignity and compassion (the accepted criteria for judging care), the vast majority of respondents replied positively about all the services available in, or accessible from, Ashwell. Survey respondents also mentioned other support services they would like, including leisure activities for older people, specialist nursing, mental health support groups, neighbourhood care groups, bereavement groups and loneliness support groups.
Policy ASH18 Maintaining existing health services
- Proposals which provide, enhance and facilitate the continued delivery of health facilities (Use Class E(e)) on the following sites, as shown on the Policies Map, will be supported. Health facilities being:
- Ashwell Surgery; and
- Ashwell dental surgery; and
- Ashwell pharmacy.
- Proposals for the expansion, including relocation locally if required, of these services will be supported subject to the following criteria:
- the proposal would not have significant harmful impacts on the amenities of surrounding residents and the local environment; and
- the proposal would not have unacceptable impacts on the local road network; and
- the proposal is located within or immediately adjacent to the settlement boundary as defined in Policy ASH1.
Conformity reference: NP Objectives: 5, 7; Saved Plan 1996: 43, 51; Emerging Local Plan: SP10; NPPF (2019): 91, 92
10.8 The supply of adequate education provision - for education and community purposes - was also a key issue for the local community, again bearing in mind the growing community across the neighbourhood area.
10.9 Within Ashwell there are three educational establishments: two pre-schools and a primary school. Other educational facilities can also be found in neighbouring villages. Secondary and tertiary education is provided out of the parish.
10.10 The two pre-schools are the Playgroup, which is run by a community group, and Gloria's Day Nursery, which is privately run. Both of the pre-schools have a close relationship with Ashwell Primary School and work together to ensure a smooth transition from one to another.
Figure 10.2 An original drawing of Ashwell School by Henry Geo. Luff, architect. 1876
10.11 Ashwell Primary School is a state funded non-denominational mixed primary school. The School is managed by the school leadership team which includes the Board of Governors.
10.12 The school's Published Admission Number (PAN) was reduced from 38 to 30 in September 2016 and the size of the classes was capped depending on the size of the class at that time. The new PAN, which started in 2016 with the Reception class, has to work its way through the School. This means that it will take seven years for the size of all classes in the school to be capped at 30 pupils.
10.13 Ashwell School is generally well regarded by the local community, and especially by parents, as indicated by the annual parent survey conducted by the school. It is also supported through parent engagement and fund-raising activities arranged by the Parent Teacher Association. Other fundraising activities also support the school in providing additional resources and facilities. The School makes a positive contribution to the local community and, when possible, makes its facilities available for local events.
10.14 Hertfordshire County Secondary schools are the default choice for many Ashwell school leavers. Ashwell School is a feeder school to The Knights Templar School in Baldock. Some children are also accepted into secondary schools out of county, such as Bassingbourn Village College in Cambridgeshire. Sixth form facilities are available as part of these secondary schools, but other separate facilities and sixth form colleges exist in the wider area.
10.15 It should be noted and recognised that the Primary School in Ashwell has little or no suitable land on its site to accommodate the building of additional classrooms or educational resources. Resolving this issue is not just a question of funding.
The School is already at maximum pupil capacity within its PAN. So these matters should be carefully considered when assessing the ability of the County Council to provide additional education provision and the acceptability of a planning application in respect of its impact on satisfactory education provision.
10.16 In it's Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP), para 14.8, the Emerging Local Plan emphasises the need to provide solutions to the demands that development makes on education provision:
"... the IDP has identified a number of areas where significant interventions will be required to support the delivery of the plan:
School Places – The County Council believe that, in many areas, existing schools are reaching, or at, capacity. ... Schemes will need to demonstrate acceptable education solutions in order to gain planning permission;"
10.17 Taking into account the circumstances peculiar to Ashwell, developers, in partnership with NHDC and HCC, are expected to provide clear, detailed, funded and deliverable plans for providing sufficient school places in response to the increase in demand that each planning decision may cause.
Policy ASH19 Education provision
10.18 Planning applications should provide solutions to their impact on education provision. The ANP will support proposals that do this if they maintain or, preferably, enhance the quality of provision.
The Parish's share of statutory contributions from developers will be used to enhance facilities.
- Proposals which maintain, enhance or facilitate the continued delivery of good quality education taking into account the impact of the proposed development,will be supported, subject to demonstrating the following:
- acceptable mitigation measures are offered to overcome access and unacceptable highway impact caused by the proposed enhancement; and
- the proposed enhancement would not result in a significant loss of amenity to local residents or other nearby activities; and
- the proposed enhancement does not conflict with other Plan policies or proposals.
Conformity reference: NP Objectives: 6; Saved Plan 1996: 51; Emerging Local Plan: SP1, SP7, SP10, AS1; NPPF (2019): 91, 92, 94