Latest news: The Dartington Community charter is finished – huge thanks are due to Isobel, David and Mothiur. See the draft charter here Dartington Charter Final 12 Oct 17
November 2018 update: There is a newer draft version of the Charter here: Com_. Charter Red Comments in red are new and not formally agreed yet. Please email Kate Wilson on email@example.com if you have any comments or suggestions about this document.
Background: Dartington Parish started to make a Community Charter as part of its Neighbourhood Plan. A Charter is a values-led document that brings a community together around a future vision for both the economy and ecology of a place. In mapping the assets that the community values, naming them and putting them into the Charter, the community is presenting its cultural heritage.
In 2013, the first Community Charter was brought into being by communities in and around Falkirk in Scotland that were mobilising against coal bed methane extraction, a process similar to fracking. In order to protect their health, their way of life, and the future wellbeing of their children and grandchildren, they came together to list all the things they valued and wanted to protect. They also imagined what a long-term sustainable local economy would look like and what they could do to make sure the natural world around them was unharmed.
The Charter is not a legal document but as a piece of “vernacular” or “moral” law that gathers support from signatures it is a “material consideration” in any planning process. It is a rights-based document, drawing on an international UN convention and EU directives about Environmental Impact Assessments. Unlike a Neighbourhood Plan it covers the entire lived experience of the community. It is a bench mark against which any proposed planning needs to be measured, and a living document that is regularly re-visited. Its power comes from the strength of support for it in the community, and that it is held by the community. When any development is proposed, citizens can turn immediately to the Charter and enter into dialogue with developers, land owners and planning authorities. Rather than repeatedly campaigning against development that is not appropriate, communities with Charters are constructively presenting what they are for.