Neighbourhood Plan Open Meeting
On 20 May the Neighbourhood Plan Team held a meeting at the school to report back on progress and set out the programme for the preparation and consultation on the draft plan. More than 40 people attended. Members of the neighbourhood plan steering group were in attendance to give presentations and listen to the views of the attendees.
Presentations were given on the current status of relevant local and national planning guidance, the current position on development of the draft plan, the outcome of discussions with potential developers, the current position on planning benefits, and information on the proposed next steps for publication and consultation on the final draft plan. A copy of the presentation slides used are available here.
It was reported that the East Hertfordshire District Plan was adopted last October and together with updates to the National Planning Policy Framework provides a clear role and context for our Neighbourhood Plan to influence and determine the location and scale of future development in the village.
It is essential that development proposals respect the strengths of the village and provide benefits to overcome any impact on local infrastructure and services. An overall strategy has been prepared to locate the additional development in a way that can meet the future needs of the village and be fully integrated into the village structure.
Discussions have taken place with proposed developers and agreement has been reached on the broad scale, location and form of development at the key sites. Progress is already being made on the development of the brown field site at the Depot near the station. Discussions have also sought to achieve benefits for the village which reflect the outcome of previous consultations with the local community. These include the provision of youth football, environmental benefits, and improvements to facilities at the school. It was stressed that this was the beginning of the process and there will be a range of future formal consultations which enable the local community to influence the final approved plan.
Questions from the floor covered a wide range of issues. Concerns were expressed about the impact that the development of the Walkern Road site could have on existing highway infrastructure and the need to develop workable sustainable transportation and environmental options. Issues were raised about whether the proposed benefits and the scale and density of development would be delivered and not be changed during implementation. Particular comments were made about the need to secure a new Scout Hut, deal with the Old Mill site, and address the impact on the local school.
The Neighbourhood Plan team thanked people for attending and proving useful comments.
Further work will now be carried out to develop the proposals and present the draft plan and policies at a formal public consultation in the next few months.