Urban Vision News - July 2014




Urban Vision is pleased to be working with Fenton Community Association (FCA) to develop three major projects in the town.  These are:

  • a scheme to re-use the former Fenton Town Hall, recently vacated by the Ministry of Justice, which Stoke-on-Trent City Council put on the Register of Assets of Community Value at the request of FCA; 
  • a project for the former Fenton Library, which is no longer required by the City Council, another building which has been added to the Register of Assets of Community Value at the request of FCA; and
  • the production of a Neighbourhood Plan for Fenton.  Urban Vision has helped the FCA submit an application for support from the government’s neighbourhood planning support programme to get the proposed Fenton Neighbourhood Plan underway.

FCA has petitioned Stoke-on-Trent City Council to create a town council for Fenton and, if successful, the projects that Urban Vision is working on will help get the new town council established quickly with a community-led plan for the town in place.




In June Dave Proudlove, a member of the Urban Vision Expert Panel, was unanimously elected as chair of Urban Vision North Staffordshire, the charity arm of Urban Vision. 

Dave has broad experience in urban regeneration and housing gained in his time with Beth Johnson Housing Association, Stoke-on-Trent City Council and the Homes and Communities Agency.  However, Dave will be better known to many people through his regular insightful articles in The Sentinel, covering many topical subjects concerning the regeneration of North Staffordshire.

Former chair, Michael Howard, stepped down in June after several years in the position when he oversaw the transformation of Urban Vision from a grant-funded body reliant on public subsidy to an independent partnership of a community interest company and a registered charity. Michael is a founding trustee of Urban Vision and we are grateful for his past and continuing support. 

More details of the people involved in Urban Vision can be found on the About Urban Vision page on our website.


Neighbourhood plans represent a significant commitment of time and energy. There are also financial costs associated with things like community engagement, printing and professional fees. Preparing a neighbourhood plan involves taking tough and sometimes controversial decisions. Yet more than 1,000 parish councils and neighbourhood forums in Engalnd have started preparing a neighbourhood plan for their local area. So what are the incentives that have led so many people to decide that neighbourhood planning is for them?

Urban Vision's Managing Director, Dave Chetwyn, explores these issues in this article he wrote for the Association of Small Historic Towns and Villages and the Historic Towns Forum: Neighbourhood Plans - What, Why, How

Urban Vision is currently working on neighbourhood plans all around Engalnd, including in Warwickshire, Liverpool, Hampshire, Milton Keynes, and Darlington.  We are also a delivery partner on the government's Supporting Communities in Neighbourhood Planning Programme and planning advisor for the lead partner, Locality. 



Since November 2013 Urban Vision’s Design Review Panel has started to operate on a more frequent basis, with Panel meetings arranged whenever possible to suit the developer’s needs rather than on a strict monthly cycle.  Since November 2013 five Panel meetings have taken place reviewing eight development proposals.  We have been asked to review these cases as a result of Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council’s policy which requires all planning applications involving significant developments to be accompanied by a design review report. 

Urban Vision has been in talks with Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Staffordshire Moorlands District Council to explore the possibility of our other local authority partners adopting a similar policy.  Design review is a proven method of raising design standards through the planning system and Newcastle’s pioneering policy is appears to be a practical solution to the dilemma of how to provide this service at no cost to the local authority.

Opposite - Apartments at London Road, Newcastle-under-Lyme




Leek Town Council has appointed Urban Vision to deliver a variety of community events to commemorate the Great War in Leek and the Staffordshire Moorlands, sponsored by the Heritage Lottery Fund.  The project aims to explore and present the impact of the War on the local community.

The programme events start with ‘Leek and the Moorlands Great War Centenary’ community exhibition which opened on Saturday 5th July in the Nicholson Museum and Art Gallery in Leek - see photograph opposite.  Photographs of the exhibition opening and historical photographs of men answering the call to arms can be viewed at https://www.flickr.com/photos/123602912@N08/page1/

Making available previously unseen archival material held by Staffordshire Library Service and Staffordshire Moorlands District Council and featuring local memorabilia and family items, the exhibition aims to explore the impact of WW1 and how it shaped the historic town of Leek. 

In addition this project will be delivering a number of guided history walks, exhibitions, schools events, tea dances and much more for schools and the wider community.  All events are free of charge.  For further information about all the events visit http://leek1914.org



In May Urban Vision did an online survey to find out what kind of services our stakeholders and partners think Urban Vision should offer that would most benefit North Staffordshire. 

91% of people replying were aware or very aware of Urban Vision.  Just over 2/3 of respondents knew that Urban Vision has an organisation which operates nationally (Urban Vision Enterprise), in addition to the Urban Vision North Staffordshire charity. 

Not surprisingly people were most aware of our traditional range of services, such as design review, training and community engagement projects, but more than half knew about some of our more recently developed services, such as supporting local communities to produce neighbourhood plans.  There was less awareness of work areas such as training for local authorities, environmental education projects, project development and preparing funding bids, and responding to government consultations.

Further details can be found by following this link - Results of the Urban Vision Stakeholder Survey



In May 2014 the judicial review of the legal challenge to the Tattenhall Neighbourhood Plan made by Barrett Homes and Wainhomes Developments was published.  This review by a senior high court judge, Mr Justice Supperstone, clarifies and confirms a number of matters regarding the production of Neighbourhood Plans.  

Tattenhall Parish Council in Cheshire West produced a Neighbourhood Plan which contained a restrictive policy limiting the scale of individual proposals for housing development to no more than 30 dwellings.  The claimants, who had planning applications for housing on large greenfield sites on the edge of the parish concurrently at appeal, challenged the legality of this policy, arguing that it had no evidence to support it and that other options, such as whether a strategy involving fewer large sites would offer a more suitable environmental alternative than a more dispersed pattern of development, had not been considered. 

The decision considers a range of complicating factors, which can be explored in detail by reading the full 34 page judgment.  For practitioners and communities preparing Neighbourhood Plans, however, a few simple lessons can be highlighted.  A summary of these can be found in this article by a director of Urban Vision Enterprise, Mick Downs: Lessons from Tattenhall Neighbourhood Plan Judicial Review


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