What is the Shenley Neighbourhood Plan?
Neighbourhood Planning is a fairly 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 Orders and Community Right to Build Orders. Once confirmed by public vote, hopefully in early 2019, our Plan will become a statutory planning document that will affect Shenley and planning decisions until at least 2027.
Shenley Neighbourhood Plan 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. There are thirteen Steering Group members (Five Parish Councillors and seven Community members) doing as the title suggests steering us through the process and over sixty local people so far 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 residents in Shenley in October 2016.
Why are we doing 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 9000 new homes in Hertsmere Borough over the next 15 years convinced us that it would be a good idea for Shenley to have a Neighbourhood Plan as soon as possible. With regard to Porters Park which increased the Village population by 200%, the supporting infrastructure which was promised was in the end not forthcoming resulting in poor services for all residents. Having a Plan in place can help us shape the design of any new developments and the landscape to 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 has been tremendous and many of you have been involved in the following:
- October 2016 – Initial questionnaire sent to all residents – over 228 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 Fete on 18th June 2017 – Neighbourhood Plan Stall – 3 Surveys and a roving Survey. Good support.
- September 2017 – Housing & Development Questionnaire – over 557 responses. We asked for one response per household.
- Shenley Parish Council Public Meeting on 10th October 2017 – Neighbourhood Plan update. Very good support. Over 200 people attended.
The Steering Group and all Working Parties have had many meetings to date. To get the final bit of the evidence we need for the Plan we shall be doing the following.
- March/April/May – Street Surveys, Business Community Survey and possibly one last Questionnaire.
- 1st July Shenley Fete – Neighbourhood Plan Stall.
As a result of the events, questionnaires, street surveys carried out over the last sixteen months, the Steering Group with working parties input have started drafting planning policies that specifically address our needs, concerns and vision for Shenley. The policies in the Hertsmere Borough Council Local Plan and the National Planning Framework still apply but we are – with all your input to date – trying to create more Shenley specific policies, guidance and a Shenley Community Priority Project list. This process is likely to continue until the end of May. We have to make sure that nothing is missed.
Last year thanks to My Community funding we commissioned some specialist reports by AECOM: The first report the ‘Site Allocation Assessment’ has been completed and the ‘Housing Needs Assessment’ is underway and should be completed by the end of March. We were going to commission a Character Assessment but have recently been informed that we might not get grant approval for Aecom to prepare one for us and even if we did it would take up to 6 months to get it the report which would severely delay the completion of our Plan. We have been advised by My Community to ask our Consultant, Angela Koch to prepare a suitable report for us. The Steering Group approved this plan on 20th February. Angela will prepare a suitable report and help us complete the first draft of the Plan by the end of March.
What will the Plan do?
The Shenley Neighbourhood Plan will help Shenley retain its green nature that is so beloved and admired by residents and visitors. It will be used to retain the Green Belt that surrounds the village, whilst recognising that there may be areas on the edge of the village where local consultation may agree to a limited release of the Green Belt in exceptional circumstances.
We will use all the information we have gathered and are gathering and lessons learned through the process ie from all the public engagement and involvement, to influence how future proposed developments are planned and developed. This should ensure that Shenley will evolve in a way that the Community is happy with and that we can all be proud of in the next 10-15 years
Other issues that residents highlighted during the process that are not strictly related to planning will be included into the Plan. These issues will become projects – ‘Community Priority Projects’ and will be used to influence other public sector bodies that invest in our area, for instance in transport infrastructure, and 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 new development) or any levy that replaces it will have to be allocated to projects in Shenley.
Draft Neighbourhood Plan – Next Steps
Once the draft Shenley Plan has been completed we will present it to you and there will be a six week consultation period for us to get your feedback. The draft Plan will be put on the village website in the Neighbourhood Plan section and there will be a hardcopy at The Hub. We will look at all your comments and make final adjustments to the Plan which will then be given to Hertsmere Borough Council for their comments. Final amendments will be made and then an independent examiner will review the Shenley Plan and hopefully recommend it for referendum. All residents in Shenley aged 18 and older will be invited to vote on the Shenley Plan.
If more than 50% of those that voted say ‘yes’ the Shenley Plan becomes Planning Policy and developers will have to adhere to it.
Do get involved whenever possible. We are particularly interested to hear from more of our younger residents.
We look forward to being able to show you the draft Shenley Plan in the next few months.
Thank you for your support to date.
CHAIR SHENLEY NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN STEERING GROUP
Updated 22nd February 2018