What is a Neighbourhood Development Plan?
A Neighbourhood Development Plan is a community-led framework for guiding the future development and growth of an area in ways that meet identified local need and make sense for local people. The plan is concerned with the use and development of land and associated social, economic and environmental issues, and may deal with a wide range of issues (like housing, employment, heritage and transport).
A Neighbourhood Development Plan will be subject to examination and referendum and, if adopted, will have legal force and must be taken into account by East Herts Council when making planning decisions.
This allows local people to get the right type of development for their community, but the plans must still meet the needs of the wider area, and this means that it will have to take into account East Herts Council’s district planning policies.
What is the District Plan?
Early in 2014, East Herts Council consulted on a draft local plan, a copy of which can be accessed here. The Council are now preparing a new draft which be issued for consultation later this year, prior to submission to the Government. A public examination of the plan will follow, with formal adoption expected in mid-2016. If our Neighbourhood Development plan is "made" by East Herts Council, it will be part of the statutory development plan for the District. It will sit sit alongside the District Plan, and the two documents will have to be considered together when considering planning applications.
What does the draft District Plan say at the moment?
East Herts draft District Plan sets out a number of planning policies. Amongst other things, it identifies the villages of Standon and Puckeridge as “Group 1” villages on the basis that they are considered to be amongst the most sustainable in the region. These villages will need to accommodate at least 10% increase in existing housing stock (based on the 2011 Census). Colliers End is identified as a “Group 2” village, which are suitable for limited infill development (up to five dwellings on each site).
What are the stages of the Neighbourhood Development Plan?
There are several stages to the process, and no ‘one size fits all’ approach. Some of the key milestones are summarised as follows:
How long will it take?
The length of time that it will take to develop our plan will depend on a number of different factors. At this stage we anticipate that it could take between 18 to 24 months to complete our Neighbourhood Development Plan.
Do we have to produce a Neighbourhood Development Plan?
No. There is no requirement for communities to produce a Neighbourhood Development Plan, it is entirely optional. However there are a number of advantages to producing one, and without one our community will have less of a say in development.
Why do we need a Neighbourhood Development Plan?
A Neighbourhood Development Plan will enable our community to play a much stronger role in shaping their area, because it will have legal force when planning decisions are taken.
Neighbourhood planning provides the opportunity for communities to set out a positive vision for how they want their community to develop and put in place planning policies that will help deliver that vision or grant planning permission for the development they want to see.
What happens if the Neighbourhood Development Plan is not produced or not adopted?
If a Neighbourhood Plan is not produced, or not adopted, then planning decisions will be made in the normal way by following national and district planning policies. These policies are far broader and will not necessarily take full account of what is most important to the people that live in and use our community.
Are there any other advantages to having a Neighbourhood Development Plan?
If our plan is adopted, Standon Parish may receive 25% of the Community Infrastructure Levy revenue received by East Herts District Council from any development.
Who pays for the Neighbourhood Development Plan?
Standon Parish Council has allocated a budget to the Steering Group, and further money is available to us through grant funding. East Herts District Council also has an obligation to provide resources to support out Neighbourhood Development Plan and will be required to fund the independent examination and the referendum that is required once we have completed our draft Neighbourhood Development Plan.
What has happened so far?
Standon Parish Council held public meetings on 14 October and 20 November 2014 to discuss neighbourhood planning. At the November meeting, volunteers were invited to step forward to form a Steering Group. A number of local people expressed an interest, and a local resident was appointed as chairman. Monthly Steering Group meetings have been held, during which the Steering Group agreed its constitution. The Steering Group held a stall at Standon May Day, and held and Open Day on 16 May 2015, and the views of the community were canvassed at each of these events. The Steering Group is now conducting a survey to build upon the feedback obtained from its events. The Steering Group has published an interim report detailing its activities in the first six months since its creation.
What if I do not agree with the Neighbourhood Development Plan?
Once we have developed a draft of the Neighbourhood Development Plan, we are required to consult with the people who live, work or carry on business in the parish about any issues or concerns that they have about our proposals, and so you will have plenty of opportunity to influence the content of the plan and voice any disagreement.
Ultimately, the residents of the parish will get to decide on whether it should be adopted through a local referendum vote, and over 50% of residents must vote in favour or the Neighbourhood Development Plan for it to be accepted.
What is the Standon Parish Council’s role in the Neighbourhood Development Plan?
Standon Parish Council is the “recognised body” that is entitled to submit a Neighbourhood Development Plan. Therefore, although the Steering Group is mainly made up of people from the community, Standon Parish Council is ultimately responsible for the plan and will be the body that eventually submits it to the local planning authority for examination and referendum.