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.