Silverstone Neighbourhood Development Plan (SNDP)
Introduction and Executive Summary
Silverstone is an extremely complex village; indeed it may be one of the most complex in the UK, a characteristic which leads to its attraction as a place to live:
• It is (probably) the most famous village in the world, a consequence of its motoring heritage.
• It nestles within the highly attractive ‘Scarplands’ landscapes of the Northamptonshire Uplands and the former royal hunting forest of ‘Whittlewood’
• It is extremely extensive. Whilst the parish extends to some seven square kilometres the village proper measures some 1.4 X 1.8
kilometres with a built up area of 65 hectares; uniquely it also incorporates a very large area of ‘open countryside’ actually within it.
Consequently, Silverstone has a very large interface with the adjoining landscape: its joint perimeter is a substantial 8.9 kilometres
• It has enjoyed a remarkable history over the millennia
• Silverstone incorporates within its orbit a mediaeval village, the remains of a Norman royal residence, a Formula One heritage circuit
and associated motor racing museum, A Science Park, A University Technical College, a Special School, a new world class primary school and numerous specialized retail outlets (many of which are located at the Circuit)
• The village has excellent access to the nation’s trunk road and motorway networks with two junctions on the A43 dual carriageway which passes directly through the parish.
The Silverstone Neighbourhood Plan Working Party (SNPWP) approached the production of the SNDP in a logical and systematic manner and the resulting ‘threads’ to our work can be summarized as follows:
• The SNPWP adopted the established methodology of ‘Survey; Analysis; Plan’ and work began on securing an extensive village database in 2017. The working party was particularly conscious of the importance of public participation in the period following the
Catchyard decision and two further exhibitions seeking village input were held in October 2017 and April 2019 to guage public sentiment.
• The impetus for the production of a Silverstone NP undoubtedly came from the imposition, following appeal, of some 220 new homes at the former Catchyard Farm. In 2014 the appeal Inspector had concluded that Catchyard was a very sustainable location for new development and so it was necessary to investigate this notion and to identify other possible threats which could expose the village to similar, future unplanned speculative development which might also be imposed without prior public engagement. Since the 2014 decision development and associated job creation at both the Circuit and Silverstone Park has progressed markedly and other threats
remain: notably the excellent accessibility to the nation’s highway system and the availability of ‘open land’ within and adjacent to the village confines could open the way to the historic village being overwhelmed on the grounds of sustainability. Furthermore, a significant new factor has arisen: the creation of the Oxford Cambridge strategic development ‘arc’ (‘O2C’) which now embraces our village. The over-arching role of the SNPWP is, therefore, to address these serious threats and to develop policies and concepts to protect the village from unplanned and unwelcome speculative development in the foreseeable future.
• The first major task was to research in great detail the complex landscape, ecology and social history of the phenomenon which is ‘Silverstone’. A huge database was collected from a very wide variety of sources and brought together, mostly in a very detailed map format, to reveal a surprisingly rich village heritage and many complex interrelationships. The results of all our investigations are detailed and lavishly illustrated in APPENDIX ONE and APPENDIX TWO of this report.
• Members of the SNPWP attended national seminars and conferences and gathered valuable intelligence from other successful Neighbourhood Plans which informed our approach. Early in our deliberations it became quite apparent that, were we to produce a plan which was purely ‘nimby’ driven and adopted the concept of ‘no new development, not ever’ (as advocated by many after the ‘Catchyard trauma’), it would not be a successful strategy. Importantly, many members recognized that most of the village’s facilities were life expired
and/or ill-located. The SNDP was seen as a vehicle which could be harnessed to possibly correct these village deficits. So the concept of planned, organic growth and its possible contribution to the enhancement of village infrastructure was carefully introduced into our
• So the next thread of our work was to consider the allocation of a site or sites for future planned development. We were acutely
aware that the much dispersed nature of our settlement could lead to the emergence of village factions if our deliberations were not
managed tightly and objectively. We resolved to avoid, at all costs, the repetition of what we termed ‘The Yardley Gobion Issue’. Hence, we needed a robust methodology to inform how a site should be allocated in our final SNDP. In the event we evolved a quasi-scientific approach from first principles which we have termed a ‘Geographic Sustainability Analysis’ (GSA) and this process is described in detail in ANNEX ONE. The output of the GSA is a striking map of the village showing (in red) those areas unsustainable for development and (in green) those which represent more sustainable locations. In particular the historic soft core or ‘Green Heart’ of the village which has endured in the village map for a thousand years and the valley of the Silverstone Brook and its various landscapes fell into the former category.
• As well as examining potential allocation locations the team began to look at the totality of village enhancements which might be secured by a robust SNDP. These included: introducing the concept of a community hub where new and enhanced village facilities might be grouped for mutual benefit; improvement and additions to the footpath/cycleway network; restoring historic village landscapes (e.g. re-introducing the former mediaeval lake ‘Silverlake’); creating new landscapes such as new village greens and wildlife corridors; increasing village tree cover by a factor of five.
• A very important aspect of the SNDP is the production of Village Design Codes. An early version of these are to be found in the approved Parish Plan/Village Design Statement (April 2017). When approved the expanded codes set out in ANNEX FIVE of this document will replace the VDS.
• Our approach to the creative, plan making stage of the SNDP is ground breaking and almost certainly much more wide-ranging than in any other UK rural Neighbourhood Development Plan. With encouragement from the dedicated SNC NP officer we resolved that only a holistic and long term Master Plan Vision for the whole of our parish could meet the challenges which this complicated and intricate village required. Following on from the intensive data collection and analytical stages and harnessing input from three village exhibitions we now have an informed vision for our whole area. This is based on transforming Silverstone into a utopian ‘garden village in the forest’ where all new development of any kind reinforces our ‘deep green’ aspirations in terms of village-wide community infrastructure and landscape enhancements, energy conservation and the wholesale beautification of our village. The Master Plan Vision (MPV) for Silverstone is illustrated and described in detail in ANNEX THREE. This vision will continue to inform all planning decisions for decades to come, as it is refreshed in the light of prevailing circumstances, and it will provide a sense of security for our residents who might otherwise experience blight from unplanned, poor quality, speculative development. Other Annexes deal with specific issues such as employment, countryside issues, housing tenure, transportation and a detailed specification for the proposed Silverstone Hub.
• Another very important aspect of our work concerns our novel approach to ‘land value capture’: that is to say securing for the community a due proportion of the significant financial benefits accruing from increases in land value arising from our plans. The assessment of village facilities and discussions with various village stakeholders led us to the inescapable conclusion that, other than our 17thC pub, 19thC churches and fine new school, most essential village infrastructure was not fit for 21stC lifestyles. We formed the view that the SNDP could be a decisive tool for the wholesale improvement and/or replacement of our outworn facilities by allowing the community to capture planning gain from the very new development which the MPV was advocating. This symbiosis of new village growth coupled with the creation of new, quality village facilities is now deeply embedded in our vision for Silverstone village. We see neither occurring without the other and they are mutually supporting concepts. This notion did, indeed, strike a strong chord with villagers at our final (fourth) exhibition of the series in April 2019 where we unveiled the MPV. Their responses to the concept and the survey results (APPENDIX NINE) speak to the legitimacy of this novel approach to neighbourhood planning. Patently, without the prospect of a new village Hub incorporating, inter alia, a new village community hall, new health centre, new, enlarged convenience store, a sheltered housing scheme, new village greens and the restoration of Silverlake there would have been little motivation to support the
quantum of additional housing planned in the long term MPV.
• Following the great success of the fourth village-wide consultation exercise the group began to look at ways of delivering the MPV.
There was little support for and no faith in simply adopting the ‘passive’ approach of local development plans where ‘the market’, by some trick of alchemy, is expected to deliver the myriad of village improvements embedded in the MPV. In the first instance a rigorous set of aims and objectives have been established for all new development to meet (ANNEX TWO). Second, numerous meetings with key landowners have taken place where the notion of an informal and facilitating ‘partnership’ between local leaders and development
interests has been discussed. ANNEX NINE sets out the requisite planning obligations. A Phase One development area for the first nine
years of the MPV is shown at Figure 7.
We commend the Silverstone Neighbourhood Development Plan and the embedded, long term Master Plan Vision to the residents of Silverstone village and we now formally put this draft Neighbourhood Plan to you for your views and comments.
To our small army of volunteers and to the members of the SNPWP who ‘stayed the long course’ of its proceedings; to our many professional advisers and to those who gave their expertise freely and to officers of the SNC who offered sound advice we express our profound thanks on behalf of existing and future residents of Silverstone village.
Below is the Village Design Master Plan, which is also shown in Volume 2, but is illustrated here as it has such an important role in showing how the future development of the village could evolve.