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Watton-at-Stone Neighbourhood Plan

Neighbourhood Plan Exhibition

26th & 27th November 2016

10 am to 2 pm

Nigel Poulton Community Hall

Have your say!

Your Parish, Your future, Your plan

Visit: Watton-at-Stone Neighbourhood Plan - Lastest News

To keep up to date with the latest developments, visit the website - 'Watton-at-Stone Neighbourhood Plan'.

Your village, your say!

Thanks to all Watton-at-Stone residents who participated in our first consultation on the Watton-at-Stone Neighbourhood Plan earlier this year. We had the opportunity to engage and speak with hundreds of residents, businesses and organisations, hearing your thoughts on how our village could develop, regarding housing, infrastructure and amenities.

Why is the Plan important?

The Neighbourhood Plan will be a set of community-led planning policies about development, regeneration and conservation in Watton-at-Stone, which will form part of the formal planning policy for our village, applied by the East Herts District Council. Having the Plan in place will mean we will have a say at the outset of any planning processes, rather than having to wait until plans are further down the line. This is our chance to influence new housing development and provide new facilities in our parish. The more people who take part in this conversation, the more effective we can be.

What is the next stage?

The Neighbourhood Plan Steering Committee has collected your ideas together into key themes and will present those to you in a second round of consultation. An exhibition will take place on Saturday 26 November and Sunday 27 November at the Nigel Poulton Community Hall, from 10 am to 2 pm on each day. This launches a 6-week consultation period, in which you are invited to express your views. The consultation period will end on 7 January 2017, so it is important that you fill in our survey or email us in that time, if you'd like your thoughts to be included. Details of how to contact us are on our website.

During the exhibition, we'll show you the areas of the village that have been suggested as places for extra homes and ask for your views. We also want to know your opinions on what these homes should look like and how many there should be. New homes also mean new facilities for the village, so we'll be asking you about what the village needs and where new amenities could go. We are also going to ask you for feedback on suggestions of how the environment we live in can be protected and improved.

East Herts District Plan

Please note that our consultation is separate to the consultation on the East Herts District Plan. That Plan will be published on 3 November and residents will have 6 weeks to comment on it. There will be information on the District Plan at our exhibition, but we're only seeking residents' views on the Neighbourhood Plan (although you can of course give East Herts your views on the District Plan, or let the Parish Council know your views).

The East Herts District Plan will state that there will be development within East Herts villages. With the provision of a Neighbourhood Plan the residents of Watton-at-Stone stand a better chance of determining the type and locations of development within the village. Eventually it is expected that the Watton-at-Stone Neighbourhood Plan will sit alongside the East Herts District Plan, giving a more detailed level of requirements for those wishing to develop in our particular parish.

And then?

Following the second consultation, the Steering Group will write the Neighbourhood Plan. We expect to complete it in Spring 2017. We will then hold a final 6-week consultation on that detailed Plan. The Steering Committee will then update the Plan as necessary and will submit it to East Herts District Council, which will hold a further consultation on our draft Plan and submit it to an examiner, who will check that it meets the relevant statutory requirements. We hope to submit it in Autumn 2017.

Assuming the Plan meets the criteria, Watton-at-Stone parishioners will then be asked to vote on whether they would like to adopt the Plan in a referendum. We hope this referendum will take place in late 2018/early 2019, however that is dependent on the East Herts District's Council's timings.

We look forward to seeing you at our Neighbourhood Plan exhibition on Saturday 26 November and Sunday 27 November at the Nigel Poulton Community Hall, from 10 am to 2 pm on each day. You'll also be able to find the consultation questions and background information on our website at www.was-np-org.

The Steering Committee


To find out more:

Watton-at-Stone Neighbourhood Plan.


Village Meeting 12th November 2015

About 120 people attended this meeting. Several topics were discussed. Considerable concern was raised over the high volumes of traffic within the village leading to potentially dangerous situations. The meeting was updated on the County Council's Highways Department's plans to address these problems and all residents should by now have received a copy of their detailed plans for comment.

The other main topic was the future development of the village particularly where this could involve Green Belt land. There was a general acceptance at the meeting that some degree of development in the village is almost inevitable but the Parish Council (PC) remains opposed to development on Green Belt land, which is also the view of the majority of residents.

District Councillor Michael Freeman gave a detailed explanation of the housing challenges facing the country, the district of East Hertfordshire and the village of Watton at Stone. He explained that a number of serious issues could still influence the final draft of East Herts Council's District Plan although the PC will reiterate its position on the Green Belt and ask the District Council to reflect this position in its final draft.

Michael Freeman argued that instead of trying to erect a barricade against any form of development which would leave the village with very few options if development is unavoidable, it would be more productive and better for the village in the long run if a three part approach is adopted, based on strong planning policy grounds:

  1. We should continue to exploit the potential for development on all the remaining brown field sites in the village as an alternative to Green Belt. We are also talking to the Woodhall Estate on its plans for the future.
  2. If the above does not deliver the number of housing units we are being asked to accommodate, we should argue that the Green Belt review commissioned by East Herts Council has confirmed that the Green Belt around Watton is of major importance and therefore should not be developed.
  3. We should then argue that in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework handed down to local authorities by the Government, development on Green Belt land can only be permitted in “very special circumstances” and we will all want convincing that those circumstances exist.

No vote was taken on this proposal but there was widespread agreement that it is the way forward.

The PC is of the firm opinion that a Neighbourhood Plan should be developed. PC Chairman Mike Smith was at pains to describe its potential benefits but also emphasised its downsides. He said that we should be in no doubt that such plans are pro development, not just new building but all aspects of how the village will develop in the future. Furthermore, the plan must be in line with the broader Local (District) Plan being developed by the District Council. For example, it could not reduce the number of houses required by that Plan. In addition it will require considerable input in terms of money and time although there is grant funding available to support the costs.

Mike Smith added that a 900 house leaflet drop concerning Neighbourhood Plans had generated only 6 replies and so he asked those at the meeting if they would give a show of hands to demonstrate that there is support for this important issue. Approximately two thirds of those present agreed that a Neighbourhood Plan should be pursued.

As a result it has since emerged that we now have 22 volunteers, add to this representatives from other interested parties, the Parish Council now has high hopes that a balanced plan can be developed.