August Update

For those of you trying to keep up to date with everything that’s changing in Knebworth and our neighbouring villages, here’s the current situation with the Neighbourhood Plan.

Following on from the policies documents that were accepted by the Parish Council in June, we are now in a position to present drafts of the important Consultation Strategy and Consultation Statement for review by the Parish Council at their July meeting. These are required as part of the official process and will need to be submitted to NHDC for scrutiny. We were surprised just how many consultations and surveys we have conducted to get to this stage.

After three years of working on the Knebworth Neighbourhood Plan, the Steering Committee felt pleased that the end of the exercise is in sight within the next 12 months. However, we have been alerted to a recent call for development sites by Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council and have been
particularly disheartened to see what they are planning for their own Local Plan, specifically with reference to additional housing in Woolmer Green. The effects on the amenities and infrastructure in Knebworth will be significant, especially traffic issues and local services such as the GP Surgery. More detailed information on the impact of these proposals will become clear once we have had the opportunity to study the details more fully.

So the work of mitigating the effects of these developments continues and it highlights how important it is to have a Neighbourhood Plan in place as soon as we can. You will be asked to take part in a local referendum as part of the process.

Knebworth Neighbourhood Plan Steering Committee

July Update

The current position

We have been working on mitigating the impact of the huge developments allocated by the North Herts District Council Local Plan for nearly three years now. Your contributions have helped and the revised policies were presented to the Parish Council at their meeting on 12 th June by the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Steering Committee. Various queries were raised and explained, with the result that the proposed acceptance of the revised KNP policies document was carried without objections.

We are now in the process of writing the actual Knebworth Neighbourhood Plan (KNP) document. This will demonstrate the work that we have undertaken to get to this stage and show that we have met the legal requirements for producing a Neighbourhood Plan. Heavy stuff!

We will include some background history of the development of Knebworth, collate all the research information around the concerns highlighted by consultation with residents and stakeholders and include some photos. Looking through some of these photos, to determine which to include, has reminded us of Knebworth’s intrinsic character and what we are trying to preserve.

Our next deadline is the July meeting of the Parish Council when we hope to present the KNP document to be used for the Pre-submission Consultation.

Knebworth Neighbourhood Plan Steering Committee

June Update

As mentioned last month, the Steering Committee has revised and refined some of the policies following your feedback at the Open Day at the beginning of March. Thank you to everyone who came along and gave us your comments.

The Chair and Vice Chair of the Steering Committee both spoke in some detail about the Knebworth Neighbourhood Plan (KNP) during the Annual Parish Meeting of the Parish Council on 1 st May, particularly regarding what can and can’t be done under a neighbourhood plan.

For example, the allocation of over 700 homes in and around Knebworth is a result of the NHDC Local Plan. It is NHDC who have allocated and allowed the Green Belt to be designated for development. There have been opportunities over the past two years to comment to NHDC regarding their proposals, but the consultation period has now closed. Knebworth Neighbourhood Plan is trying to mitigate the consequences of these allocations. You can view our efforts so far on the website.

There was a lot of comment from the Open Day regarding the lack of restaurants, wine bars and new shops. As residents ourselves, we agree with what you are saying but, although the KNP Steering Committee would welcome all of these enterprises to enrich the lives of local people, unfortunately the initiative to open these undertakings has to be from people or companies wanting to start new businesses here in Knebworth. If you know of anyone looking for a suitable location for a new enterprise, then please direct them to one of our vacant premises.

There were several suggestions for new family homes to be built, with adequate parking places on site, rather than any more retirement residences. We are trying to influence these requirements with our policies. Similarly, we are trying to influence the provision of better road access to the new areas and other parts of the village.  Once finalised, Knebworth Neighbourhood Plan will have a legal status, North Herts District Council and the developers are obliged to take notice.

Unfortunately, despite there being many comments about the train service, the KNP cannot insist that extra trains are run every day, however there is a very active Knebworth Rail Users Forum – https://www.facebook.com/groups/knebworthruf/ – for anyone who is interested – it is a public group. For those wanting improved local bus services there is Bus Users Group Stevenage (BUGS) – https://www.bususers.org/your-local-group/bugs-bus-users-group-stevenage/about-us. They are “an independent group committed to campaigning for good quality bus services in Stevenage and the surrounding areas as well as speaking up for bus users in the area. Bus Users Group Stevenage works closely with local bus operators, Hertfordshire County Council, Stevenage Borough Council and other interested parties locally. We arrange public meetings on issues affecting local bus users, campaign on transport related issues and assist passengers with resolving their complaints.

Environmental and flooding concerns can be addressed on the Hertfordshire County Council website at: https://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/services/Recycling-waste-and-environment/Water/Flooding-in-Hertfordshire.aspx. There are many more useful links to contacts for various services on the Knebworth Parish Council website at: https://www.knebworthparishcouncil.gov.uk.

Our revised policies will now be scrutinised by the Parish Council and, if agreed, will then be presented at an initial meeting with NHDC for discussion. There will be further consultations with residents later in the year.

Knebworth Neighbourhood Plan Steering Committee

May Update

We have now had the opportunity to review the comments that you gave us at the Open Day in March. On the whole, the feedback was quite positive with between 67.35% – 89.36% in favour of the policies, the rest having reservations about aspects of some of the policies, or no view on them.

As anyone who lives in Knebworth would expect, there was very strong support for avoiding coalescence with Stevenage; Knebworth’s distinctive village identity is important to residents. Traffic, Transport and Parking (TT&P) produced the most comments and continued concerns. As a result of some very helpful observations from a local expert, the TT&P working group has scoped an application for funding for Technical Assistance on Transport. NHDC never seem to understand the problems and concerns that everyone has on these issues, despite many residents responding to their consultations in the past.

We are currently updating some of the policies in light of the feedback we have received. We then have to gather and collate all of the supporting reference documents, evidence, charts, photos and tables to prepare the consultation documents that need to be produced for NHDC. Also, we intend
to produce an Action Plan to keep us focused on what everyone requires to be achieved during the course of the process.

Watch this space!

Knebworth Neighbourhood Plan Steering Committee

April update

We would like to thank everyone who attended the Open Day on Saturday 2nd March. Hopefully, the displays of maps, photos and spreadsheets helped everyone to understand the processes that have been undertaken over the last couple of years in order to arrive at our current point. Thank you too for standing and reading the policies, despite the daunting amount of print, and for listening to the presentations.

If you missed the event, but would still like to be up to date on what is proposed, the link below will take you to a page which contains documents that were available at the Open Day – https://www.knebworthparishcouncil.gov.uk/neighbourhood-plan.html.

Now we need to review the feedback that you gave us, summarise the significant things that we need to address and decide how we incorporate any suggestions into the existing policies/text/appendices/action plan etc. These are our next steps and we will keep you informed on what happens.

Knebworth Neighbourhood Plan Steering Committee

February Update

Neighbourhood Planning is actively promoted by the Government through the Localism Act and “gives communities direct power to develop a shared vision for their neighbourhood and shape the development and growth of their local area. They are able to choose where they want new homes, shops and offices to be built, have their say on what those new buildings should look like and what infrastructure should be provided, and grant planning permission for the new buildings they want to see go ahead. Neighbourhood planning provides a powerful set of tools for local people to ensure that they get the right types of development for their community where the ambition of the neighbourhood is aligned with the strategic needs and priorities of the wider local area.

Well that’s the theory anyway! It turns out that planning is far more complicated than you might think and there are numerous complex and problematical rules to understand and comply with.

We recently had a review of all the local green spaces in Knebworth, plus the local iconic and heritage buildings. This was interesting stuff, but it was hard to understand at times why some areas/buildings met with “approved” criteria and others did not.

For an opportunity to review the policies and objectives that have been developed for Knebworth, come to the Open Day on Saturday 2nd March in the Village Hall, 10am-4pm, with short presentations every hour between 10am and 3pm. Please come along and comment. More details next month.

Knebworth Neighbourhood Plan Steering Committee

January Update

The first news for 2019!

Useful information from the team can be found at https://knebworthneighbourhoodplan.org.uk.

Over the last two years, members of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Committee have met on a regular basis to progress the feedback from the six working topic groups, this is all based on research undertaken within the village.

We have drawn up objectives and are in the process of developing policies. In January, we hope to be able to submit these draft policies for review to Knebworth Parish Council. If supported and agreed by the Parish Council, a draft document outlining these objectives and policies will be delivered to each household in Knebworth for consideration.

We will then hold an Open Day, probably in early March. This will be a critical opportunity for you to come along to ask more questions and discuss anything within the document. Please look out for the date of this important presentation.

We are always pleased to hear from residents and local businesses with your views on the future of Knebworth. If you have some thoughts or ideas you feel would be helpful in producing a good plan for our area, we would love to hear from you. Please email the team at: neighbourhood-plan@knebworthpc.org.uk.

Knebworth Neighbourhood Plan Steering Committee

Winter Update

Here’s the latest from the team.

All six working groups are continuing to develop their objectives and policies based on information obtained by research and consultation with stakeholders.

The Traffic, Transport and Parking group have recently been out daily noting car parking patterns that cause so many problems on Knebworth roads. We will be able to see from this survey whether or not these difficulties are due to commuters or other unidentified issues.

Some young people took part in a Youth Focus Group led by our planning professional. It was agreed that this direct approach would be better than the originally intended survey form. We were very impressed by the knowledgeable and reasoned responses we got from these youngsters.
If you know of any other young people who would like to be consulted on future issues, please ask them to contact us at jacqueline@govresources.co.uk.

The Knebworth Neighbourhood Plan website continues to develop and can be found at https://knebworthneighbourhoodplan.org.uk.

If you would like more information or would like to give us feedback on the Knebworth Neighbourhood Plan, we would very much like to hear from you. Contact: neighbourhood-plan@knebworthpc.org.uk.

Knebworth Neighbourhood Plan Steering Committee

October Update

The Neighbourhood Plan working groups are:

  • Traffic, Transportation and Parking– aiming to improve infrastructure and parking issues. Suggestions include electric charging points and free and easily accessible parking.
  • Local Economy, including retail, restaurants and bars, looking for ways to maintain current facilities. Other ideas also put forward involve satellite hubs for mixed use, eg small businesses, offices, retail, entertainment and commercial.
  • Environment and Flooding– all aspects of local green spaces, conservation and pollution. Work has been done to preserve and protect current amenities.  Historic flooding problems have been examined with a view to ongoing improvement.
  • Built Environment, which covers housing density and character. An important and central part of the Plan. Current proposals are looking at development opportunities that choose appropriate designs to improve and enhance Knebworth’s housing stock and minimise infrastructure impact.
  • Schools and Education– covering pre-school, primary and secondary provision. A crucial group which has been looking at sustainable provision, with innovative solutions that meet current and future needs in as many ways as possible.
  • Wellbeing, which includes medical and public services, aiming to ensure that residents’ welfare is well served with access to recreation, sport and leisure facilities in addition to health and public information availability.

The six working groups have objectives and are developing policies that aim tomitigate the effect of the housing allocations imposed by the NHDC Local Plan, the work being done by the Knebworth Neighbourhood Plan is aiming to be positive and achieve the best outcomes.

Some of the groups have overlap areas within them, for example local green spaces are covered by both Wellbeing and Environment groups.  Similarly, Knebworth traffic and parking problems are fundamental issues affected by, and having an effect on, the local economy and housing character.  This crucial aspect of Knebworth planning is now being addressed with some urgency and any help in this area would be appreciated.

One of our committee members conducted a retail survey of 45 businesses in the village.  The main issues were again parking, traffic and the retention (hopefully) of The Station Pub.  I don’t suppose there are many Knebworth residents or business owners that wouldn’t recognise these concerns.  If anyone has expertise in the business sector, we would welcome their help.

We now have our own Knebworth Neighbourhood Plan website, where we hope to be able to keep everyone up to date. It is still being developed, but do have a look and let us know what you’d like to be kept informed about.    Knebworth Neighbourhood Plan website can be found athttps://knebworthneighbourhoodplan.org.uk/

Once again, we’re appealing for more residents to help us.  If you would like to help develop the Knebworth Neighbourhood Plan, we would very much like to hear from you.  Contact:  neighbourhood-plan@knebworthpc.org.uk