Hunsdon, Eastwick & Gilston Neighbourhood Plan

Where will the HEGNP apply?

When the two Parish Councils agreed to work jointly on a Neighbourhood Plan they recognised that each of the communities would have views on their particular locality. But Hunsdon residents are unlikely to be closely familiar with local issues and priorities in Eastwick & Gilston, and vice versa. Consequently the Steering Group's intention is that the Plan should have sections specific to each of the current settlements. The content of these sections is more likely to address the detailed policies that will apply immediately to individual applications.

The greater challenge will, without doubt, be to address the countryside outside of and between the villages . This is land which is currently designated by East Herts Council in its Local Plan (2007) as Green Belt or as Rural Area Beyond the Green Belt. As such there are planning restrictions which apply and generally prohibit development for housing. However the emerging District Plan, which will soon replace the Local Plan, proposes 'the Gilston Area' for large-scale new housing development. Moreover, as the District Plan has been developed over time, the scale of development associated with the Gilston Area and the assuredness with which the proposals are made have both increased

  • In the Preferred Options draft of the District Plan (which was issued for public consultation in February 2014) the Gilston Area was included as one of three possible 'Broad Locations for Development'. The primary reason for this designation was that the District Plan needed to identify, at least in broad detail, how the Local Planning Authority intended to accommodate the full number of new homes which studies suggest would be required in the district over the plan period. Gilston, and the other greenfield sites, were identified in the plan to 'mop up' the gap between the housing allocations to existing towns and villages, which total 11,500, and the overall requirement of 15,000+. However the plan recognised that insufficient work has been undertaken to determine whether an allocation should be made, and acknowledged the need for a further Development Plan Document to address the ability to provide all necessary infrastructure in parallel with new housing, and of the implications of the current Green Belt designation which would preclude any development.
  • However in the Pre-submission draft of the District Plan (which was issued for public consultation in December 2016 prior to its intended submission for Independent Examination) the Gilston Area had been positively advanced and the need for the associated Development Plan Document dismissed. Details of the current proposals for the Gilston Area are contained in the relevant chapter of the District Plan referenced here. The pages of the East Herts Council website which describe the current status of the new District Plan and its ongoing development can be seen here.
  • At the same time as this major change in policy was being effected, East Herts Council, in association with Harlow Council and surrounding authorities, sought to take advantage of a government 'Garden Towns and Villages Initiative' to secure additional funding for related studies. To this end it proposed the 'Harlow and Gilston Garden Town' concept; the joint proposal to government is referenced here. The application was successful in being awarded a grant £0.5M from central government. The relevant East Herts Council press release is here

The manner in which the Gilston Area has been accelelerated without reference to or any involvement of the Neighbourhood Planning team is a matter of great concern to the team and has been its primary focus since mid-2016. The HEGNP team does not support the policies relating to the Gilston Area included in the current draft of the District Plan; the team commissioned experts to reflect these concerns in its formal response during the public consultation on the latest (Pre-submission) draft of the District Plan in December 2016. The HEGNP response is in two parts; a summary and the detailed content. The team believes this stance reflects the overwhelming view of the local community, as evidenced by the fact that 92% of the responses to the 2016 public consultation objected specifically to the Gilston Area policies in the District Plan. However the HEGNP team is obligated to follow due process in developing a Neighbourhood Plan which compliments the relevant District Plan, and consequenly cannot ignore the course that East Herts Council is following. To that effect it is engaging in a series of workshops involving East Herts Council, the landowners, Herts County Council and other stakeholders to co-ordinate the evolution of the Neighbourhood Plan with the District Plan. Notes from this series of workshops can be seen on the Reference documents page of this site.