Wymondley Parish Neighbourhood Plan
We are not a planning authority, but in creating this Neighbourhood Plan (NP) our intention has been to develop a series of policies covering key issues impacting on Wymondley Parish, and which local planning authorities must take into account when considering development proposals.
Our policies are intended to ensure sustainable enhancement of the overall quality of life in the Parish; and to improve the health, well-being and social cohesion of our community now and for the future. They are underpinned by the need to protect its character and natural and historic environments, as it is these which draw people to our community, and if we fail to protect them, we fail to protect our community.
The Plan sets out our aims and policy objectives in relation to key themes, and explains the reasoning behind them. It embraces and builds on current and future planned activity, and explains what the Wymondley Parish Neighbourhood Planning Forum (WPNPF) will work towards with other stakeholders. We cannot achieve our objectives in isolation.
Partnership working is vital, and this Plan is based on the premise that we will continue to work positively and collaboratively with other stakeholders to implement this NP for the greater good of the Parish.
WPNPF sincerely thank all those residents, and other contributors, who responded to our parish survey, attended public meetings, responded to our public consultations and otherwise freely gave up their time and expertise to assist in developing this NP. In particular we thank Muhammad Awais , for his research and other input.
Their contributions are set out in full in the Consultation Statement that will be produced as a companion document to this Plan, and have been its guiding force.
Why we need a Neighbourhood Plan
The neighbourhood planning regime offers us an opportunity to shape development in our home environment. By using this community-led, statutory framework we can put our first hand knowledge of living and working in a particular place to good use in guiding its conservation, regeneration and future development.
A Neighbourhood Plan is essentially about the use and development of land and may contain a vision, aims, planning policies, proposals for improving the area or providing new facilities, or allocation of key sites for specific kinds of development. It can also deal with a wide range of socio-economic and environmental issues (such as housing, employment, heritage and transport).
Its key focus is determined by us, and its statutory status offers us a powerful set of tools to ensure we get the right types of development for our community; and that we can act to protect and improve the things that mean most to us about the area in which we live. Developing a Neighbourhood Plan gives us an important opportunity to influence the future of our community in ways we believe are best for it. So, use it or lose it....
How our Neighbourhood Plan fits into the planning system
There are several key pieces of legislation relating to planning and development - not least the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. The Localism Act 2011 is also relevant, as it provides a statutory regime for neighbourhood planning, and allows qualifying bodies, (such as parish councils or neighbourhood forums), to influence more directly the way in which their locality is developed.
The Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012 set out the legal process by which this can be achieved. Essentially, Neighbourhood Plans must be in line with higher level planning policy; and support strategic planning policies set out in Local Plans – in our case, that of North Herts District Council (NHDC). (Neighbourhood Plans must also comply with European Regulations on strategic environmental assessment and habitat.)
Through their Neighbourhood Plan, local people can set policies for their area on issues relating to new development and, once the Plan has been through the legal process and formally made, it becomes part of the strategic Local Plan for the area - and must be taken account of by local planning authorities when considering development proposals.
The Government’s 2012 National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sets out its planning policies for England, and how these are expected to be applied. It is based on the fundamental principle that the purpose of planning is to help achieve sustainable development, i.e. growth which ensures that better lives for us does not mean worse lives for future generations; and which reflects the fact that our natural environment is essential to our well-being.
In launching the NPPF, The Rt. Hon. Greg Clark MP (then Minister for Planning) said “Planning must be a creative exercise in finding ways to enhance and improve the places in which we live our lives”.
The NPPF’s key concept is the involvement of local people and their accountable councils, through producing their own distinctive local and neighbourhood plans, reflecting the needs and priorities of their communities. Consequently, in developing the Wymondley Parish Neighbourhood Plan we have taken the NPPF principles into account and considered not only the current needs of our parishioners, but also likely future needs – particularly given the information and preferred options for development contained in the Consultation Paper published by our accountable council in December 2014: “North Herts District Council Local Plan 2011 – 2031” ; and in the draft “Stevenage Borough Local Plan 2011 – 2031”, published by our neighbouring local authority in January 2016.
When considering positively the housing needs of our community, and the potential options for future development within Wymondley Parish, we have borne in mind the three mutually dependent dimensions of sustainable development, which require the planning system to perform a number of roles.
Alongside these, we have considered Wymondley Parish’s particular characteristics such as location, historic environment, population, amenities, parking facilities, infrastructure etc; and the views of its parishioners on the key issues impacting on life in our community and future development within it.
In doing so we believe we have produced a balanced summary of those issues - and positive proposals to address them, as set out later in this Plan. By working in partnership with stakeholders we aim to achieve creative improvements to, and better future development of, our parish while protecting and enhancing its character and environment.