A neighbourhood plan is written based on research, opinions of residents and evidence collected. Therefore we need the residents of London Colney to get involved in developing the plan.
There are many ways you can get involved, including responding to questionnaires, participating in focus group meetings and activities, at various stages we will ask you for your feedback to us on the emerging plan. We are also looking for volunteers who can join one of 4 working groups, to focus on specific areas of the plan with our planning consultants. These areas are:
Housing and Design
Economical & Employment Development
Infrastructure & Community Facilities
Environment (Natural & Historical)
More information about what policies these groups might look at can be found below.
What is involved in volunteering on a working group?
The amount of work involved in volunteering on a working group will vary depending on the stage of developing the plan. During the stages of engagement with residents and completing research there will be more to be done, ensuring that the engagement is asking the right questions, analysing the results, and identifying what needs to be written in to policies within the plan.
Our professional planning consultants will be writing the policies for us, and will be on hand to provide their expertise and technical guidance throughout the process. Working groups will need to meet on a regular basis to ensure development stages are efficiently completed on time. Meetings will be scheduled when required and will likely be online meetings due to COVID-19. Support will also be provided by the Neighbourhood Plan Officer at the Parish Council. The initial time scale for working on a working group will be 12-14 months depending on the successful progression of the plan to the later stages.
Housing and Design Working Group
Housing policies must address local need, including deficiencies in a local area. A neighbourhood plan must accommodate new housing to meet local need, for example through site allocations and infill policies. Common deficiencies include smaller housing for first time buyers or those downsizing and housing suitable for the elderly. Any policies on housing mix must be evidence based. Affordable housing will often be dealt with by local strategic policies in the local plan. However, there may still be scope for fine-tuning these, for example by setting out requirements for affordable housing to be integrated into overall development and be tenure blind.
The neighbourhood plan may make site allocations for housing or mixed use including residential uses. It is essential that the plan meets evidence-derived housing need and growth requirements set out in the local plan through policies, site allocations, village envelopes or other means.
Policies on housing standards and urban design can help to address sustainability. Housing development should be about creating distinctive places, not just applying space and highway standards. Indeed, things like garden space standards can impose poor urban design solutions, which owe little to the distinctive local character.
It is important to recognise that successful housing developments rely not just on the houses, but on employment, community facilities, public transport and good linkages to surrounding areas. It is often useful to encourage mixed-use development rather than large single use housing areas. This can help to reduce the need for travel to access employment and community facilities.
There is a direct relationship between quality of environment and an areas ability to attract investment, population and visitors. Good design can help to support local businesses and economic growth. It can also support and encourage healthier lifestyles, for example by creating safe, convenient and attractive environments for walking and for recreation.
National policy makes clear that neighbourhood plans should not impose arbitrary stylistic preferences. It is usually best to focus on urban design and townscape matters. These include things like:
enclosure and definition of streets and spaces; the form, scale, massing, and height of buildings; ease of movement for pedestrians (sometimes referred to as permeability and connectivity); distinctive features like terraces, landmark buildings or parks;
the use of key spaces and the public realm, including social and economic activities; the mix of uses in the area.
Design policies can help to ensure that new development responds to these characteristics. Such policies can also enable and encourage creativity and innovation, including green architecture (high environmental performance). Design codes could also be included.
Economical & Employment Development Working Group
Employment policy may be aspirational in terms of trying to attract better-paid jobs and more prestigious employers. However, it also needs to take account of local skills and the dynamics of the local labour market (e.g. what sort of employer would be attracted to the area now and in the future). The changing nature of employment should be considered. Neighbourhood plan policies and site allocations can be used to enable employment, including industrial, commercial and tourism-related development.
Encouraging investment in jobs often requires a focus on wider issues such as choice and quality of housing, quality of environment, cultural facilities, telecommunications, infrastructure, branding, image and perceptions. A neighbourhood plan can be an important means to promoting an area and creating investor confidence.
Even in mainly residential areas, employment is an issue. For example, there could be a need for meeting space, hot-desking facilities or faster broadband for people working from home.
Infrastructure and Community Facilities Working Group
One of the most important factors in making places sustainable is to ensure a good mix of uses, so that housing and employment areas are well linked and served by a range of community facilities, preferably in easy walking distance. This does depend on the nature of the area, for example some rural settlements can be challenging.
Community facilities can include local businesses, such as shops, pubs and entertainment. They can include public facilities like libraries, medical facilities or schools. Some facilities may be run by community organisations, for example community centres and libraries that have been the subject of asset transfer. Neighbourhood plans can include land use policies to protect existing facilities or enable new ones. Also, by enabling growth, neighbourhood plans can help to make community facilities more viable, for example by making housing site allocations to increase the local catchment of facilities in towns or villages.
Whilst land use policies can be included, neighbourhood plans can’t be used to make decisions on behalf of service providers (for example health, education or public transport). It is essential to engage with such providers therefore to find out their plans for the area.
For example, a neighbourhood plan could not take decisions on which schools would expand. However, it could allocate land to allow a school to expand, in liaison with the education provider.
A neighbourhood plan may deal with transport insofar as it relates to new development. It may not deal with things like traffic management of existing networks, unless such management would be necessary to allow development to be approved.
Examples of transport considerations relevant to planning include:
ensuring that new development has adequate parking and servicing provision. This could include car parking, cycle storage and delivery areas for commercial development; making sure the layout of development allows for pedestrian convenience and safety; ensuring development includes cycle paths and storage; creating easy pedestrian access to public transport facilities in terms of direct and convenient connections; considering whether access arrangements to a site, existing or proposed, are adequate; making sure that local transport capacity is adequate to serve development. This could include consideration of highway capacity, train services, bus services and other modes of transport.
Many traffic matters fall outside of the scope of planning. For example, changes to traffic management on existing transport networks, including speed limits, are usually a matter for the highways authority. Policy on transport should seek to encourage a balanced and sustainable provision. The needs of non-car owners should be positively addressed.
For example, pedestrian convenience and facilities for cyclists should be encouraged. Careful consideration should be given to creating convenient and safe links to surrounding areas. It may be necessary to encourage new roads, bus routes and other links to key development sites to support their development. Car parking needs to be carefully designed and positioned to create a distinctive sense of place and not to dominate the public realm.
Environment Working Group
There are special statutory duties that apply to decisions involving listed buildings and conservation areas at the planning application stage. Policies need to guide applications involving or affecting historic buildings and areas. At the heart of heritage legislation and policy is the need for heritage assets to remain in productive use and the need to understand their special architectural or historic interest or significance as a basis for considering change. The setting of historic buildings is also a key consideration. Responding to setting may be about good townscape principles or about maintaining the open landscape setting, depending on the nature of the historic building.
The conservation of heritage assets needs to be reconciled with other social, economic and environmental concerns, recognising the need for heritage to adapt to changing demands. A neighbourhood plan may highlight the role of heritage in delivering more sustainable forms of economic development and physical regeneration, for example in areas of decline where historic buildings can provide ideal space for enterprise. So it is important to understand how heritage can deliver growth and how growth in the wider area can help to make heritage more viable and sustainable.
Policies on design in historic areas should highlight things like townscape character, but should avoid imposing stylistic copying in new development, which can harm the integrity of historic areas and be really damaging within the setting of landmark historic buildings.
Policy about the natural environment covers issues such as landscape, biodiversity, trees and foliage, allotments, rural paths, parks and open spaces (sometimes referred to collectively as green infrastructure). It is useful to recognise the benefits the natural environment provides, for example, in mitigating the impacts of climate change, alleviating flooding, improving air quality and providing space for recreation and healthy lifestyles.
Important natural environment assets may be identified, such as valued local green spaces, which may be designated as Local Green Space. Other aspects of the local natural environment could also be recognised and be given specific protection by policies. For example, policies could require the retention of trees around the edge of a development site.
There may be opportunities for development to enhance the natural environment and create new facilities, such as wildlife habitats, tree planting or spaces for community and recreational use. Priorities for improving green infrastructure could be identified.