The Watton-at-Stone Neighbourhood Plan
Frequently Asked Questions – the Referendum
What is a Neighbourhood Plan?
A Neighbourhood Plan is a set of community-led planning policies about development, regeneration and conservation in a specified area, which forms part of the formal planning policy for the area concerned. If adopted, the Neighbourhood Plan would sit alongside the East Herts District Plan as a formal part of the East Herts District Council’s planning policy up to 2033, including specifying how much new housing is expected to be built in which areas.
Who wrote the Watton at Stone Neighbourhood Plan?
The Watton-at-Stone Neighbourhood Plan was written by a Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group appointed by the Parish Council. The Steering Group wrote the Plan following community consultation, including village meetings and written consultations, which shaped what the Plan says and the rules that it contains about new development. The Steering Group is made up of volunteers from the parish advised by a specialist consultant.
Which area does the Neighbourhood Plan cover?
The Parish of Watton at Stone.
What is the Neighbourhood Plan referendum?
The Neighbourhood Plan referendum is the final stage in the process of producing a Neighbourhood Plan. We will be voting on the following question:
“Do you want East Herts District Council to use the Neighbourhood Plan for Watton-at-Stone to help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area?”
What happens if most people say Yes?
If a majority of those who vote say Yes, the Plan will be adopted and will become part of the rules and requirements that will be applied by East Herts District Council to any development in the Parish between now and 2033. Planning permission decisions by East Herts for any development in the parish – big or small – will take it into account.
What happens if most people say No?
If the Plan is rejected in the referendum, it will simply fall away and none of its provisions will apply.
Will there be more houses built in Watton-at-Stone?
As part of the East Herts District Plan, Watton-at-Stone has been asked to provide sufficient development land for at least 90 new homes. This cannot be achieved without building on Green Belt land. Housing development will take place whether the Neighbourhood Plan is adopted or not.
If the Plan is adopted by a Yes vote, then Green Belt land will be released to enable new housing in the areas set out in the Plan. Planning applications will have to take into account the specified housing density and design code. The developers will be expected to provide the community benefits specified in the Plan, such as recreational facilities and footpaths.
If the Plan is rejected by a No vote, then the decision about what Green Belt land to release for development will be taken by East Herts District Council when developers submit their planning applications. The applications will not have to take account of rules set out in the Neighbourhood Plan such as the design code, the number of houses permitted and the community benefits to be provided by developers.
When will the Neighbourhood Plan be adopted?
The referendum vote takes place on 12 October, from 7am to 10pm at the Nigel Poulton Community Hall (remember to bring your voter ID).
If the majority of those who vote on the Plan say Yes, the final step is for East Herts District Council to adopt the plan formally. This is likely to take a further couple of weeks. Once adopted, the Plan will remain in force until 2033.
If the majority say No, the Plan will not be adopted by East Herts and will fall away. None of its provisions will apply. East Herts will take the decisions about releasing Green Belt land for development.