Neighbourhood Plan Update

The Draft Neighbourhood Plan has now been completed and was approved by Redbourn Parish Councillors at a meeting of the Full Council on 20th October 2016. At this same meeting, it was recommended that the draft plan in its entirety be sent to St Albans District Council (SADC) requesting them to give initial informal feedback on the Plan.  In addition to this, it was recommended that SADC determine whether or not a Specialist Environment Assessment (SEA) is required. This may be necessary because all the sites being considered in the Plan are currently in the Green Belt and some, like Site 2 Land East of Redbourn, provide a rich habitat for various different species of plant and wildlife.

Representative from the Neighbourhood Plan Working Party met with SADC officers in January and received very complimentary feedback on the Draft Neighbourhood Plan.  No significant changes were needed; however SADC did request a further report on the justification of taking sites out of the Green Belt. This has now been done by the planning consultant working on the Neighbourhood Plan and concludes that there is justification for use of Green Belt land in this case.

On 21st February, the Neighbourhood Plan Working Party met to discuss all these issues further. It was agreed at that meeting that SADC would be asked to establish if an SEA was necessary.  Throughout the whole Redbourn Neighbourhood Plan process, the working party has always considered the Plan within the wider context of ongoing developments in the District of the Strategic Local Plan (SLP). Following a hearing on 26th October 2016, the Government Inspector raised issues in his report with the SLP, regarding the ‘duty to co-operate’ with neighbouring Councils, housing numbers and lack of infrastructure. SADC have challenged these findings and a Judicial Review will now be held in early June.  As a result of this uncertainty with the SLP it was agreed to pause all further work on Redbourn Neighbourhood Plan until the outcome of the Judicial Review is known.

Education Statement

During extensive consultation with the community, residents have repeatedly raised concerns about school places in the village and told us that they wanted Education to be a key part of the Neighbourhood Plan. Unfortunately legislation has changed over the last 4 years since work on the Neighbourhood Plan began and therefore rules on school places have changed.

Sites identified for housing-led development in Redbourn will provide approximately 144 homes over the 15-year period of the plan (on average about 10 new homes per year). Therefore knowing how important the Education objective was to such a significant proportion of the village, members of the Neighbourhood Plan Working Party have been working closely with Herts County Council Forward Planning team (as the Education Authority), together with their own town planner to find out how this could be addressed.

Unfortunately rules outlined by the Education Authority state that in order to extend the existing Redbourn Infant and Junior Schools by one form entry (i.e. one class of 30 per year group) and/or deliver a new school then a need has to be demonstrated. In both cases 500 new homes would have to be built. Feedback from the community tells us that this level of development would be considered unacceptable by residents and in terms of available and sustainable sites in the parish, not deliverable.

There are however times when ‘bulge years’ occur where 30 children are without a place in a local school and temporary classrooms have been installed as happened with the current year 3 children. If in the future the number of school age children increases and permanent expansion is required, then a more rigorous process must be followed. If this were to be the case, both Redbourn Infant and Junior Schools would have to seek permission from Sport England to extend buildings onto the playing fields in order to expand to 3 form entry instead of 2. This would only be granted if detached playing fields could be acquired less than 400 metres away. In addition to this, Highways would have to assess the likely increase in traffic and give their permission. Given the problems with traffic and parking near both schools currently, it is likely permission would be refused. However again if alternative parking could be identified nearby and initiatives like ‘park and stride’ set up it could be possible.

The Neighbourhood Plan can only prepare planning policies which are supported by evidence and can be delivered and unfortunately there is no planning policy we can propose to ensure increased school places. Reluctantly therefore, we have had to remove Education from our vision statement and main planning objectives because it is not within the remit of the Neighbourhood Plan to deliver it. We can and will however, include Education in our non-policy section of the plan, and will encourage and support the Parish Council and community to work together to ensure school places for every Redbourn child.

Herts County Council have told us that their main aim is to ensure that Redbourn children have access to a local primary school and they will continue to monitor the situation and take any action needed as and when numbers increase. To read their latest report on Redbourn click here Herts County Council Education Needs Statement July 2016

Sites Proposed for Allocation in the Draft Neighbourhood Plan

Following extensive consultations with the community about the sites proposed for development in Redbourn, the Neighbourhood Plan Working Party has now met to consider resident’s feedback alongside the technical assessments and made a decision about which sites we will be proposing for allocation in the draft Neighbourhood Plan.

Out of the original 9 sites, 4 sites have been rejected as being unsustainable and/or not meeting the objectives of the Draft Neighbourhood Plan as effectively as the selected sites:

• Site 1 Greyhound Meadow
• Site 6 South West Redbourn
• Site 8 Between Redding Lane, Lybury Lane and A5
• Site 9 Hemel Hempstead Road.

Of the 5 remaining sites 4 are proposed for allocation in the Draft Neighbourhood Plan for housing-led development:

• Site 2 East of Redbourn
• Site 3 Land North of Blackhorse Lane
• Site 4 Land off Dunstable Road
• Site 5 Bridge Nursery, Dunstable Road

• With Site 7 Gaddesden Lane offering space for business use.

The Neighbourhood Plan Working Party will now focus its efforts on completing the Draft Plan, including looking in more detail about the size and type of housing and community facilities based on feedback from residents and measured against the vision statement and aims and objectives. We hope to achieve a complete first draft of the plan by the end of July. Shortly after that we will commence the formal consultation process where we will be asking for your views on the Draft Neighbourhood Plan.

In the meantime we want to hear any views you may have on whether the sites proposed will meet the objectives of the Neighbourhood Plan. We can be contacted via our website, Facebook or at the Parish Council.

See map

Neighbourhood Plan Balloon disaster at Fun Run!

We got very good feedback at the Fun Run on Sunday 22nd May at the Recreation Centre, and handed out leaflets with revised sites which are being considered for development in the Plan. We also handed out balloons, but as the sun came out, the air expanded and they began to spontaneously burst. We gave some to children attending the event, but had to keep replacing them when those, too, burst in the sun. After a while, the wind picked up, tipped over the display stands, blew the leaflets away and lifted the balloons out of their stand. They then went into a large patch of nettles behind the display where children started to try to get at them. Fortunately, the sun then came out again and one by one they burst saving the children from nettle stings. However, the leaflets were given out, and we had some useful discussions with local residents about the various sites, and their concerns.

Redbourn Neighbourhood Plan at the Fun Run on 22nd May

Since the success of the Lego Event we have been busy looking at all the feedback from residents on the sites. We have had another working party meeting and our planning consultant has completed his assessments on the 2 new sites. We are planning another consultation event at the Fun Run on 22nd May at Redbourn Leisure Centre, where we will be presenting the latest information to residents.

Huge attendance at Lego event

While young engineers worked in Lego to produce houses, and other creations they would like to see in Redbourn, parents looked at sites for possible new housing and filled in comment sheets for the Neighbourhood Plan. There was not enough space for all the children around the Lego tables, so many of them came, and the food ran out very quickly! It was wonderful to have so many parents there, to talk about what they want for the village, what type of homes will be needed and where, and also issues such as school places which will be addressed by the Neighbourhood Plan at a later consultation event.

lego table 1

Free Lego Event

Redbourn Neighbourhood Plan is hosting a free Lego event at the Parish Centre in the Easter holidays. The event will take place on Tuesday 5th April from 12.30 – 3pm. We want children and their families who live in Redbourn to come along and build our village of the future out of Lego. They can make their dream home, ideal car, design a playground etc and in so doing tell us what kind of development and communities facilities they would like to see in Redbourn. Lego experts Awesome Engineers will be on hand to help with ideas and there will be prizes for the best models. A free buffet lunch will also be provided.

There will also be information about the work we have done to date including the vision statement, aims and objectives of the plan, possible sites for development and assessments. Come along and tell us what you think.

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