The Neighbourhood Plan will be a set of community-led planning policies about development, regeneration and conservation in Watton-at-Stone, and will form part of the formal planning policy for the area. This section gives an overview of the themes that we expect to address with our policies.
1. Design principles: New development to be consistent with the existing densities and style of construction of the existing housing stock. This includes wide variety but predominantly in a rural and traditional style, which includes the newer housing stock on the High Street. New development should be well into the existing village environment in terms of location, connectivity, pedestrian, cycle and green paths running through developments. Where entrance points to the village will be affected by new development, planting should be used to reinforce the rural feel of the village: the tree-lined entrance from the A602/Hertford roundabout at the southern end should drive design and replanting. Density of development should be no more than 30-35 dwellings per hectare. All houses should have sufficient hard-standing proximate to the house itself for additional parking (including provision for guests). Road widths and junctions should be constructed with sufficient space to enable access for emergency and service vehicles.
2. Approach to development: Brownfield sites should be prioritised for development, but not to the detriment of the surrounding area. Any housing development on green field sites development should be integrated into the overall shape of the village, in line with the design principles set out above. Any decision to release greenbelt land within the parish should be taken in a single enduring decision and should not be repeatedly revisited. With this in mind, this plan is designed to endure beyond the 15 year timeframe for the EHDC District Plan.
3. Protected views: Identified views will be protected and should not be affected by new development. Views: along all entrances to the village -Walkern Rd, Stevenage Rd, from the Hertford roundabout up to the church, from the Church Field roundabout up the High Street, from Datchworth Rd into the village. Also views from all high ground within the village. Sightlines also within the existing built up area of the village (e.g. along the High Street) and across green spaces within the village (e.g. across the Meadow to the Church).
4. Future proofing infrastructure: All new dwellings to have cable or fibre-optic broadband connection. All new dwellings to have charging points for electric vehicles or appropriate electricity infrastructure to facilitate installation of a charging point.
5. Sustainable urban drainage: SUDs drainage to be used wherever possible. Any SUDs area must be designed as a multi-functional recreational space. Any new development must ensure that existing sewers and drainage can accommodate the new demand or must upgrade such facilities as required.
6. Sustainable transport: If the built-up area of the village extends significantly in length along the direction of an existing or future bus route, a new bus stop should be added for new and existing residents of that part of the village. Any new development should have hard-surface shared pedestrian/cycling paths connecting it to the existing and future network of footpaths through the village, including connection to the train station.
7. River Beane: All development should enhance and should not compromise the natural
environment of the River Beane and should respect the existing and future management/regeneration plan for the river.
8. Nature connections: The environmental heritage of the village including ancient hedgerows and existing woodland must be respected. New planting should be appropriately connected to existing green areas. Low-lying areas not appropriate for development may be turned into wetland areas. Meadow and wildflower planting should be considered to support and enhance diverse wildlife habitats.
9. Vitality of the village: In accordance with the EHDC District Plan, any release of Green Belt land for development should generate countervailing community benefits. Priority should be given to supporting and enhancing community activities, maintaining and enhancing recreational and other community assets, and supporting local enterprise. Any s106 or CIL monies generated by a development should be allocated to the fullest extent possible to projects either physically located within the parish or which will directly benefit parish residents of all ages. Consideration must be given to how new development will impact on the existing centre of the village and should not create satellite communities. [Gated developments will therefore not normally be appropriate.]
10. The school: The environs of the school should be reserved for any required school expansion (whether buildings or open space for school activities). In addition to the statutory provision for school expansion proportionate to the increase in residents, a further proportion of section 106/CIL monies should be allocated to the school for provision of additional services for the community such as before-and after-school care and extra-curricular activities and clubs during both term time and the school holidays.
Policy themes continued