Independent Examiner publishes final Neighbourhood Plan report

The Giston Area Neighbourhood Plan underwent independent examination by Christopher Lockhart-Mummery QC between October 2020 and February 2021.

You can now download and read the full Examiner’s Report. The QC’s one page summary is reproduced below.

I was appointed by East Herts District Council (the Council) to carry out the independent examination of the Gilston Area Neighbourhood Plan 2020-2033.

The examination was carried out between October 2020 and February 2021. It was undertaken by considering all documents submitted to me, including Regulation 16 Representations. I held a hearing on 19 November 2020. I undertook a site view on 11 January 2021.

I find the NP is based on extensive community engagement, well researched supporting evidence, and subject to matters set out in the Report provides an appropriate set of local policies.

I issued Examiner’s Note 2 on 26 October 2020, stating three serious concerns I then
had as to compliance with Basic Condition (a). The third concern fell away, but concerns 1 and 2 remained.

Following the hearing, the Neighbourhood Plan Group (NPG) submitted a revised NP, Much of the revised material had been subject to full discussion at the hearing. The December 2020 Edits document was given full publicity, and representations were submitted. This document overcame my first and second concerns, and effected other significant improvements.

Subject to Recommended Modifications in the Report, including the substitution of the December 2020 Edits for the submitted NP, I conclude that the NP meets the Basic Conditions and other statutory requirements, and I recommend that it proceed to referendum.

I further recommend that the referendum area should be extended to include the whole of the Parish of Hunsdon.

The full examination – including all formal correspondence – remains available on our dedicated Independent Examination page and also at the East Herts Council website.

Briggens Estate submits revised planning application for Village 7

Briggens Estate has submitted its revised planning application for Village 7.

3/19/2124/OUT  (116 new documents)

This application from City & Provincial Properties seeks to secure the basic agreements for Village 7, to be built on land off Church Lane and the A414 in Hunsdon and Eastwick, Hertfordshire and comprises up to 1,500 residential homes and facilities.

The closing date for comments is Sunday, February 28.

Briggens Estate will hold two Zoom Q&A sessions on the revised planning applications: on Wednesday, February 10 at 6pm-8.30pm and Saturday, February 13 at 10am-12.30pm.

If you would like to attend please can you register your interest by emailing at least 24 hours in advance

NPG responds to the Places for People revised planning applications

Hunsdon Eastwick and Gilston Neighbourhood Plan Group has responded to the revised planning applications from Places for People.

The response was to the four applications below, including an outline planning application for 8,500 residential homes and facilities (Villages 1-6) and full planning applications for major road changes covering a Central Stort Crossing and Eastern Stort Crossing

After consultation with the community and the Parish Councils of Hunsdon and Eastwick & Gilston, the Hunsdon, Eastwick and Gilston Neighbourhood Plan Group (HEGNPG) has concluded that the proposals included in the revised planning application submissions for the Gilston Area cannot be supported and should not be approved without further integrations and modifications.

These are necessary to demonstrate a clear commitment to the delivery of development in the form of distinct villages, enhancing the natural environment and supporting infrastructure that addresses the needs of future and existing communities, as required by Policy GA1, the submission Gilston Area Neighbourhood Plan, the Gilston Area Charter SPD and other relevant guidance including the Gilston Area Concept Framework and the HGGT Vision and Design Guide.

In addition, the mitigation of impacts on the existing communities is not adequately addressed. Far too many of these measures are left vague and unspecific to be defined and secured through the s106 agreement and governance arrangements. We maintain that greater clarity and certainty on these critical matters is required before the current planning applications can, properly, be determined.

We acknowledge that the applicants have made some welcome additions and clarifications, while retaining strong commitment to quality building design and 40% affordable housing. Other welcome improvements are on public transport provision, heritage protection and increase of employment space within the village centres.

However, we remain concerned that if East Herts Council approves the applications in their current form, they will fail to achieve the agreed vision and objectives for development in the Gilston Area and fail to fulfil the Garden City principles set out in the District Plan itself.

You can read the full response here

How to respond to the revised planning applications before the January 21 deadline

The extended deadline for you to respond to the four revised planning applications made by Places for People is less than one week away at 5pm on Thursday, January 21, 2021.

Remember: If you have already replied to the consultation, you are still allowed to add further comments.

We encourage you to make a response to the consultation using the following four links:

1. Outline planning application for 8,500 new homes plus infrastructure – 3/19/1045/OUT

2. Detailed planning application for new bridges and changes to existing bridges and other roads at Fifth Avenue – 3/19/1046/FUL

3. Detailed planning application for new bridges and changes to existing bridges and other roads at River Way – 3/19/1051/FUL

4. Detailed planning application for new bridges and changes to existing bridges at River Way (Listed Building Planning Application) – 3/19/1049/LBC

Remember to fill in all the necessary fields on all four forms, including the tick-box for whether you Object, Support or are Neutral towards the planning applications, as below.

consultation response form

We suggest that a possible reply by you might include some or all of the following points:

“Unfortunately, despite the revisions made following the previous consultation period, the revised planning applications for villages 1-6 and two river crossings have not fully addressed the concerns raised by the community with regards to:

– adherance to Garden Town principles and the delivery of a development of six individual villages of exceptional quality with adequately protected landscape buffers between each village in a way that preserves landscape, heritage and the essential quality of living within the countryside

– justification for the new Eastern Crossing, which hasn’t undergone sufficient option analysis considering the massive impact it will have on existing residents

– timely and fully-costed delivery of infrastructure, including schools and truly sustainable transport. The £600m section 106 agreements that should cover this must be properly discussed and agreed before the plans are approved and not after

– a fair distribution of the increase in land value that will occur when the Green Belt is built on. It is only right that part of this money be used to cover infrastructure and sustainability spending, rather than the cost being loaded on to new residents as a service charge

– the lack of an agreed structure and timeline for both the handing over of agreed assets to the community and the the establishment of a properly-funded community organisation to look after these assets

– the new “employment area” industrial park south of village 6, which has no justification and goes against Garden Town principles

– the potentially disproportionate allocation of land for facilities for gypsies, travellers and travelling showpeople in the context of the wider East Hertfordshire District

– the lack of full information and assessments with no explanation on the environmental impacts and what mitigation will be carried out, for example, air pollution, noise impacts on existing residents, light pollution, and wildlife.

We therefore maintain our OBJECTION to the applications pending further improvements that fully address the concerns of the community.”

Revised Planning Applications – Zoom webinar on January 11

As you will know, the deadline for the revised planning applications from Places for People has been extended to 5pm on Thursday January 21, 2021.

Given the size and complexity of the application, we at your Neighbourhood Plan Group would like to talk you through the key documents and our proposed response, which is informed by expert advice we have commissioned.

This will also give us an opportunity to hear from you and ensure we encompass the community’s views before we submit our response.

Given the COVID-19 restrictions, this will have to be done online. We have set up a Zoom meeting room for Monday, January 11 at 7.00pm

Please get in touch via our contact form or sign up to our mailing list for login details.