As it turns out, planning is a complex issue. This is something the KNP Steering Committee has learned during the past four years of developing the Draft KNP, sometimes to their cost. There have been some disappointments when a lot of time has been spent on a topic that the residents of Knebworth have very strong views about and they are later revealed to be ‘out of scope’ of what a Neighbourhood Plan is allowed to cover, ie “not planning”, according to our specialist consultant. However we have used many of them in our Action Plan to be taken forward independently.
On the other hand, we have learned a lot and have developed an understanding of the process. An official government process that needs to be followed does exist. We have listened carefully to the views of local residents and stakeholders. Our open days and various consultations have been well received on the whole and we have listened intently to what you want. This was the basis of the Draft KNP, ie how to make our neighbourhood the best it can be under the guidelines as far as we can under your direction.
There were several times that we wondered if we would ever get to the end*, there were events that conspired to prolong the process. After all, who could have imagined that a viral pandemic would have hindered the latest consultation process? As usual, we overcame the problem, this time by extending the consultation period until midnight on 31st May and giving everyone a further chance to comment on the Draft Plan. So, if you read this before the 31st, please get your comments in.
However, actually, we haven’t reached the end yet. We cannot get the Plan finally ‘made’ until next May due to Coronavirus related delays in the final referendum event, as declared in a recent Government announcement that no more referenda can take place until May 2021, this includes Neighbourhood Plans. However we can continue with the final consultation and Planning Inspector review stages before this. As we go through those final steps, the KNP will have an increasing weight of significance with respect to planning applications.
All comments received will now be recorded in a document. The KNP Steering Committee will then have to consider each comment and decide whether or not to make any changes as a result. These changes need to be justified and agreed as to what the changes will be.
Following any amendments resulting from the pre-submission consultation stage, the revised Neighbourhood Plan has to be submitted to the local planning authority, in this case North Herts District Council. This submission has to include the KNP area map, a Consultation Statement detailing the consultations undertaken in order to prepare the Plan and a statement on how the Plan fulfils the basic conditions, shown below:
Meeting the Basic Conditions for Neighbourhood Plans which are specified by law:
- must be appropriate having regard to national policy
- must contribute to the achievement of sustainable development
- must be in general conformity with the strategic policies in the development plan for the local area
- must be compatible with human rights requirements
- must be compatible with EU obligations**
*The “end” will be when the Plan is ‘made’ following a referendum.
**We’re not sure if this still applies and are seeking advice.
Knebworth Neighbourhood Plan Steering Committee