Hertfordshire Local Plan Watch - Spring 2023

17.5.23 2 MINUTE READ

Image of herts spring

Progress at last! Sometimes in planning, we have to take the small wins - the fact that three Local Plans in Hertfordshire have taken a step forward is a very welcome sight!

Firstly, three cheers for North Hertfordshire! After only…27 years, the authority now has an up-to-date Local Plan! Time will tell if the authority will deliver on the early review mechanism (Policy IMR2) requiring a review of the plan by the end of 2023. It is notable that Policy IMR2, when discussing an early review, acknowledges the need for a broad alignment with the review of local plans for Stevenage and East Herts (required by November 2023 and May 2024 respectively). In view of the cooperation seen elsewhere in Herts, it is highly possible that we will see these plan reviews come forward in parallel towards the end of the year.

For Welwyn Hatfield, the question being asked is: “is the end in sight?” After a tumultuous Local Plan Examination process (spanning 6 years!), the Council have now consulted on a schedule of main modifications. The results of this consultation are pending, but there is now a slither of light at the end of the tunnel that the 2005 plan may soon be replaced.

Completing the trio, Watford also adopted their new Local Plan in late 2022.

Moving forward, consultations are pending for Dacorum, St Albans, Hertsmere and the Joint Strategic Plan. 

Outside of the Local Plan process, there is the sense that the development industry are fighting back in Hertfordshire, a feeling that has felt absent for a while in the context of stalled Local Plans and protectionist Green Belt rhetoric.

In Hertsmere, a number of proposed allocations from the abandoned Local Plan are now being progressed as applications. There are three appeals on Green Belt land in Hertsmere arguing Very Special Circumstances (all of which were proposed allocations in the withdrawn Regulation 18 draft plan) and more appeals are expected to join the party in the immediate period (both speculative and former proposed allocations).

Similarly, in East Herts, there were recent appeals (1 Whempstead Road, Benington – PINS Reference: 3303408, 3303413 and 3288702) which determined that the Council could not demonstrate a five-year housing land supply.

It is also notable that the first planning consents have been signed off by Dacorum following the moratorium on all planning decisions since March 2022 (see Suzi’s previous blog for more info). Whilst not entirely out of the woods, the progress made in establishing a mitigation scheme for Beechwoods Special Area of Conservation and identifying Suitable Alternative Greenspace (Bunkers Park and Chipperfield Common) marks a move towards normality for the authority.

The recent local election results from May 2023 could, however, cause a bump in the road moving forward, with the Conservatives only controlling one of the 10 Councils within Hertfordshire after losing their other 4 seats to the Liberal Democrats (in Dacorum) and to no overall control (in East Herts, Welwyn Hatfield and Hertsmere). The fall out of these elections will be one to monitor going forward.

In summary, there are surprisingly a number of promotional opportunities anticipated in the next period in Herts, including: Dacorum, St Albans, Hertsmere and the Joint Strategic Plan. 

For detail on emerging Local Plan position in Hertfordshire please click on the map below.


Our Planning team


Suzi Green

Principal Planner, Planning

Working across Herts, Beds, Bucks, and Northants, Suzi has expert knowledge and understanding of major planning and policy updates.

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Natasha Abbott

Senior Planner

Personable and professional, Natasha consistently delivers clear and comprehensive advice to her clients.

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Our Local Plan Watch provides an update on the progress of the Local Plans coming forward across our region to allocate new land for development and highlights the key opportunities for landowners, promoters and developers. 

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