This is the DRAFT Shenley Neighbourhood Plan. A very important document which we encourage you to read and comment on. It will, once further tested and confirmed by public vote, become a statutory planning document that will affect Shenley and planning application decisions until at least 2036.
As we have mentioned earlier Neighbourhood Planning is quite a new concept introduced by the 2011 Localism Act to allow communities, such as Shenley, to shape development in their areas through the production of a Neighbourhood Development Plan, Neighbourhood Development and Community Right to Build Orders.
This is a community initiative which, although sponsored by Shenley Parish Council (SPC) and with funding made available by government, involves members of the Shenley Community. Over sixty local people have been part of the four working parties covering areas such as Housing and Development, Green Belt and Heritage, Roads, Transport, Parking and Amenities and Local Services. These were all themes highlighted in the response to the first questionnaire to all Shenley Residents in October 2016.
Why did we do it and how
In 2016, Shenley Parish Council (SPC) decided that it would apply to Hertsmere Borough Council (HBC) to create a Shenley Neighbourhood Plan. The experience of the Porters Park development on the old Hospital site in the early 1990s and the new pressure for thousands of new homes and jobs in the Hertsmere Borough over the next 15 years convinced us that it would be a good idea for Shenley to have its own Neighbourhood Plan as soon as possible. With regard to Porters Park – which increased the Village population by180% – the supporting infrastructure which was promised was in the end not forthcoming. This resulted in poor services for all residents. Having a Neighbourhood Plan in place will shape the design of new developments and landscapes and help protect the green nature of the village.
SPC knew that it did not have all the answers and that to be effective this plan needed to include all the ideas from the residents and businesses of Shenley. Community support and input was tremendous and many of you have been involved in the following:
- October 2016: Initial questionnaire delivered to all residents – over 220 responses.
- 5th April 2017: Neighbourhood Plan Launch Meeting at Shenley Primary School – Request for volunteers to join four Working Parties and extra Steering Group members – 120 people attended.
Shenley Fête on 18th June 2017: Neighbourhood Plan Stall – 3 Surveys and a roving survey. Good support.
- September 2017: Second questionnaire with Housing & Development focus: over 557 responses. We asked for one response per household which gives us a percentage response of 33.75%.
- April 2018: Presentation at an open door Steering Group l Meeting with our advisor Angela Koch of ImaginePlaces, with an opportunity to comment on the first draft of our plan and policies.
- May 2018: The Steering Group works on refining the draft Shenley Plan and prepares for Regulation 14 statutory consultation launch in June 2018.
- June/July/August/September 2018: 7 June 2018 and 1 July Launch events for the purpose of the statutory consultation on the Draft Shenley Plan
(Regulation 14 Consultation).
As a result of these events, the Steering Group with working parties input has been drafting planning policies that specifically address our needs, concerns and our vision for Shenley.The policies in the Hertsmere Borough Council Local Plan and the National Planning Framework still apply, but we have with all your input to date tried to create more Shenley specific policies, guidance and a Shenley Community Priority Project list (Work in progress!).
If passed at a local referendum, the Shenley Neighbourhood Plan will be adopted by Hertsmere Borough Council (HBC) as the plan, which must be used in law to determine planning applications in the Parish; it will become part of the Local Development Plan alongside the Borough Council’s Local Plan. Having an adopted Neighbourhood Plan provides our community with a powerful tool to guide the long term future of Shenley and its surrounding countryside for the period of 2019 to 2036. Ours contains a vision for the future of Shenley Parish and sets out clear planning policies to realise this vision.
In March 2018, it became apparent that there is a possibility that the older part of the village might lose its Green Belt designation and with it the significant planning control mechanism attached to it. Porters Park was taken out of the Green Belt by Hertsmere Borough Council in June 2016.
What does the Shenley Plan aim to do?
The Shenley Neighbourhood Plan, once adopted, will help Shenley to retain the rural feel that is so beloved and admired by residents and visitors. It aims to set the tone, guide applicants and support the planning committee in making good and locally supported planning decisions. The Shenley Plan aims to provide for a sound design quality focused and plan-led growth strategy whilst at the same time allowing for the retention of the Green Belt protection and nature in and around the village (June 2016 boundaries).
Principally, the Shenley Plan needs to be in ‘general conformity’ with the strategic policies in the Local Plan and the National Planning Policies and guidance. And here is one of our key challenges: How can we retain and perhaps even improve our recognised and protected village character with access to the open countryside while allowing more and smaller homes to be built and our local services supported?
The Shenley Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group holds the view that the retention of the Green Belt designation of the older part of the village and its surroundings is paramount to that end. In light of doing our bit to help resolve the housing and infrastructure crises, we propose to change our village envelope boundary (Policy S2), but not the Green Belt designation and take up our right to develop a Neighbourhood Development Order (NDO). The latter is subject to the emerging National Planning Policy Framework (2018) enabling the
production of a Neighbourhood Development Order (NDO) in the Green Belt consented for by a local referendum. This will give the community the right to grant planning permission leading to securing rural character, setting and openness within the redefined village envelope. Please note that with a Neighbourhood Development Order and the required positive community referendum on detailed proposals to validate the NDO, it is the local community that grants planning permission for development and not Hertsmere Borough Council’s Planning committee. In addition, the Shenley Plan Policy (S5) outlines the clear expectation that developers and promoters for major application (10+ homes) must provide for independently facilitated design workshops open to all and a design brief with the necessity of doing this early in the design process. They must also provide associated continuous engagement throughout the pre-application and application process.
In summary, we used all the information we have gathered and lessons learned through the process from the public engagement and involvement to date to influence how future proposed developments are planned and designed. Policy S1, S3, S4, S7, S8 and S9 are of particular relevance here. Together, they should shape applications in a manner that allows Shenley to evolve in a way that the local community is happy with and in a way that we can all be proud of.
Other issues that residents highlighted that are not strictly related to planning have already been included into the Plan. These are deemed projects and we call them ‘Community Priority Projects’. The first draft of Community Priority Projects should be discussed further and eventually be used to invest in our area, for instance in transport infrastructure. This should guide capital expenditure and priorities in the Parish. Once adopted the Shenley Neighbourhood Plan will in particular ensure that twenty-five per cent of any Community Infrastructure Levy (a development tax paid on any new development) or any replacement Levy that comes in will have to be allocated to projects in Shenley. The monies will be made available to the Parish Council.
Over the course of the next six months there will be two rounds of public consultation with residents, businesses, landowners and other stakeholders such as Hertsmere Borough Council, Hertfordshire County Council, English Heritage and the Environmental Agency.
A series of amendments and suggested improvements to the Plan will then be considered.
The Neighbourhood Development Order follows the same process as a Neighbourhood Plan and we will therefore develop the Neighbourhood Development Order in parallel if this ‘planning tool’ becomes available for us to use. Please watch this space for the ‘Open Design Day’.
After all the above and if it goes well, then an independent examiner will review the Shenley Plan and the Development Order and recommend them for referenda. All residents aged 18 and older will be invited to vote on the Shenley Plan and the Development Order. If more than 50% of those that vote say ‘Yes’ the Shenley Plan and Shenley Development Order will become Planning Policy and developers will have to adhere to it.
Please get involved and let us know if you can support the drafted priority policies and projects and please provide any suggestions you can on how we can improve them.
We recommend that you discuss the Draft Shenley Plan with your friends, neighbours and colleagues. We particularly would like to hear from more of our younger residents.
It is very important to us all that we end up with a Shenley Plan that really works for us all – a Plan that the majority is happy with.
Cllr. Nicky Beaton
Chair of the Neighbourhood Planning Steering Group for Shenley
Updated 6th June 2018