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Parish Neighbourhood Plan

Residents of the Parish voted to adopt the Neighbourhood Plan

On Thursday 5th May 2022 residents of St Stephen Parish had the opportunity to vote in a Public Referendum on the St Stephen Parish Neighbourhood Plan. The question asked of the residents on a ballot paper will be: Do you want St. Albans City and District Council to use the Neighbourhood Plan for St. Stephen to help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood – Yes or No? Of those voting, 82% voted Yes with only 18% voting No.
The next stage is for St Albans City and District Council to ‘make’ the plan, i.e. adopt the plan, at the Full Council meeting on 20 July 2022.

What is a Neighbourhood Plan?

In simple terms a Neighbourhood Plan is designed to give ‘locals’ a greater say in matters that affect the area they live in. It gives communities direct power to develop a shared vision for their neighbourhood and shape the development and growth of their local area. Neighbourhood planning provides a powerful set of tools for local people to plan for the types of development to meet their community’s needs and where the ambition of the neighbourhood is aligned with the strategic needs and priorities of the local area.

In numerous respects, the Neighbourhood Plan will play a fundamental role in shaping the future face of Bricket Wood, Chiswell Green and Park Street over the coming years.

Neighbourhood Plan is not about development – it’s about controlling development

Although some development is inevitable – the government will see to that – a Neighbourhood Plan is designed to ensure that when development happens, it puts the needs of the community to the fore. In essence, a Neighbourhood Plan shapes, directs and helps to influence local planning decisions.

Once a Neighbourhood Plan has been brought into force, and where there is an area of conflict, the Neighbourhood Plan (and the policies contained within it) takes precedence over the existing non-strategic policies of the area’s Local Plan – in this case the St Albans City and District Council Local Plan.

The ‘active’ part of the St Stephen Neighbourhood Plan comprises a suite of policies; and it’s against these policies that, once the Plan is adopted, future planning applications will be assessed.

These policies cover five distinct areas:

  • Housing
  • Green Spaces and the Environment
  • Transport and Movement
  • Community Facilities
  • Business and the Local Economy

In addition, the St Stephen Parish Neighbourhood Plan also identifies a number of other community needs and aspirations which, as not directly related to the planning process, fall outside of the Plan’s remit and cannot form policies.

These are, however, still included in the Plan as ‘Aims’.

Although not a panacea, the St Stephen Neighbourhood Plan will serve as a catalyst to help form the future character of the Parish’s villages.

A collaborative effort

Although the Plan is primarily the work of a team of representatives from the Parish’s three villages, with the support of St Stephen Parish Council, perhaps more importantly residents have also been involved from the outset, contributing their suggestions, opinions and comments throughout the Plan’s gestation.

In the autumn of 2021 the District Council  invited comments on the submission version of St Stephen Neighbourhood Plan in accordance with Regulation 16 of the Neighbourhood Plan (General) Regulations 2012. This consultation has now closed. Further information can be found through the link below;

Examination Correspondence

The St Stephen Neighbourhood Plan has now been submitted for examination. Please see correspondence between the Examiner, the Council and St Stephen Parish Council below:

The St Stephen Neighbourhood Plan is based upon the thoughts, concerns and aspirations of local residents, as identified by the Community Survey – sent out to every household in the Parish – and the numerous public meetings that have taken place.

The Plan covers five distinct subject areas:  Housing, Green Spaces and the Environment, Transport and Movement, Community Facilities, and Business and the Local Economy, and contains 29 related policies.

The Plan has recently concluded its Pre-Submission stage – the Public Consultation – enabling residents and other interested parties to comment on the Plan and its policies.

Any necessary revisions will be made to the Plan which will then be sent to St Albans City and District Council, who will organise a further round of consultation. Following this the Plan will then be placed in the hands of an external Examiner for comment. The final stage will be the Public Referendum with residents voting – with a simple Yes or No – on the Plan and its influence on the face of the Parish over the coming years.

View the plan:  St Stephen Neighbourhood Plan – Pre-Submission (Regulation 14) Consultation
View the slides from the Public Meeting held on Zoom on 9th November: Presentation Slides
View the presentation in full on YouTube: 9 November Public Presentation

Although closely linked, the St Stephen Neighbourhood Plan and the emerging St Albans City and District (SADC) Local Plan are two separate entities and should not be confused.

The St Stephen Neighbourhood Plan has been developed in anticipation that the St Albans City and District Local Plan would be adopted before the Neighbourhood Plan. As a result, the policies in the St Stephen Neighbourhood Plan conform both to the adopted saved policies of the St Albans District Local Plan Review (1994) and also synchronise with the policies of the emerging Local Plan.

There is now a strong possibility that the emerging St Albans Local Plan will not progress as previously scheduled. If this occurs, it will directly impact a number of the proposed policies in the Pre-Submission St Stephen Neighbourhood Plan, namely:

  • Policy S1: Spatial Strategy
  • Policy S2: Housing Scale and Location
  • AIM 3: Community facilities at the Donkey Field
  • Policy S20: Burston Nurseries
  • Polices S25 to S29: Site allocations

If the emerging Local Plan does not progress, these policies would not form part of the Submission Version Neighbourhood Plan. However, pending a decision on the emerging Local Plan, these policies are retained for the purposes of the Consultation and your views on these are welcomed.

For further information, please see the Important Notice from the Chair of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group.

In 2011 the government introduced the Localism Act. One of the objectives of the Act was the devolution of decision-making powers from central government control to individuals and communities with, for example, local communities being able to produce Neighbourhood Plans for their local area.

In essence a Neighbourhood Plan is a community-led framework, containing visions, aims, planning policies and proposals for improving the area and / or providing new facilities for the benefit of the community. Neighbourhood plans relate to the use and development of land and associated social, economic and environmental issues such as housing, employment, heritage and transport.

Quick Guide to Neighbourhood Plans

Benefits from adopting the St Stephen Parish Neighbourhood Plan

ü  The St Stephen Neighbourhood Plan will help to ensure that the Parish remains a viable and attractive community for residents and their families.

ü  The St Stephen Neighbourhood Plan will protect vital green spaces within the villages for the continued enjoyment of residents against inappropriate development.

ü  The St Stephen Neighbourhood Plan will go a long way to ensuring that the three main villages in the Parish will remain individual settlements and not merge into one larger entity.

ü  The St Stephen Neighbourhood Plan will ensure that any development in the Parish will prioritise the needs of the community; such as homes more affordable to younger families and properties tailored towards the requirements of its ageing population.

ü  The St Stephen Neighbourhood Plan will help to deter development that is not in keeping with the scale and character of the area. Further, that any development meets additional criteria; for example the provision of adequate off-street parking, suitable green landscaping and easy access to local shops and services and local transport.

ü  The St Stephen Neighbourhood Plan addresses the problems of local traffic volumes and flows as well as the need for enhanced public transport services.

ü  The St Stephen Neighbourhood Plan seeks to maintain and improve local community facilities to address the needs of existing and future residents, including those of the younger generation.

ü  The St Stephen Neighbourhood Plan supports the development of suitable local businesses to both service the needs of the community and provide employment to local residents.