Hunsdon Parish Neighbourhood Plan

An Opportunity for YOU to Influence Hunsdon’s Future

What is a “Neighbourhood Plan”?
Well, a Neighbourhood Plan is a way for local communities to influence the future of the area in which they live and work. It can be used to:

  • Develop a shared vision for the neighbourhood.
  • Chose where new homes, shops, offices and other development might be built.
  • Identify and protect important local green spaces and features.
  • Influence what new buildings should look like.
But isn’t someone already doing something about a Neighbourhood Plan?
Yes – so let’s explain. About two years ago, Hunsdon Parish Council decided to join with Eastwick & Gilston Parish Council in jointly developing a Neighbourhood Plan – the Hunsdon, Eastwick & Gilston Neighbourhood Plan (HEGNP). That seemed a sensible course when any large-scale development in the Gilston Area was just one of several possibilities and, in any case, was a long way off – so the two parish councils could concentrate on each of their local issues before jointly addressing the open land between the two parishes. All that changed, however, when East Herts Council – for reasons still unexplained and unsupported – suddenly included the proposal for 10,000 houses in ‘the Gilston Area’ in its final draft of their District Plan. Those proposals would envelop the existing Gilston and Eastwick villages and so completely undermine any proactive neighbourhood planning they hoped to undertake, as well as have a huge impact on parts of Hunsdon outside the village core. Consequently, the HEGNP group has focussed on responding to the rapidly developing proposals from EHC / Places for People – and any separate neighbourhood planning for the unaffected part of Hunsdon has, regrettably, been on the back burner.
The HEGNP group has achieved a huge amount and is now largely ‘calling the shots’ in its dealings with EHC and the developers – so attention can be turned back to Hunsdon parish outside the Gilston Area. Clearly it doesn’t make sense to address that from within the joint NP group, so a separate NP group – the Hunsdon Parish Neighbourhood Plan (HPNP) group has been formed to undertake that work. Now you might be forgiven for asking why we don’t finish with one before starting with the other; the answer is that East Herts Council has imposed a deadline for plans to be in place by 2021; if we haven’t produced our own plan for how we want to see the village develop by then, then we will have lost the opportunity altogether.

The intention to produce the HPNP has been initiated by Hunsdon Parish Council and been endorsed by East Herts Council, but the work to produce the plan must be independent of the Parish Council. The PC has, then, invited a handful of ‘likely candidates’ to start the ball rolling, however the constitution of this group is by no means fixed or exclusive and one of the purposes of this piece is to invite any resident who has an interest in the future of Hunsdon and feels they have some skill and / or effort to contribute to make contact. Our Parish Clerk, Carole Page, has taken the role of secretary of the group and should be the first point of contact (clerk@hunsdonparishcouncil.org).

The group’s first intention is to engage professionals to guide us through the complex process of producing a plan as efficiently as possible – ie to achieve a plan which expresses our needs but yet meets all the requirements for a document which will, ultimately, be part of the formal planning process, and to do that within a demanding timescale. Once an appointment has been made then we can start to construct a detailed plan of action, and regular communication with and consultation of the community will be an essential part of that. So – if you think you can contribute please contact Carole, come and meet some of the current team at the Village Fete & Dog Show on 16th June or otherwise watch out for further news as the Hunsdon Parish Neighbourhood Plan starts to take shape.