Time is running out to get North Herts Local Plan moving

Terry Hone

Terry Hone - Credit: Archant

A decision has been taken to push ahead with a new Local Plan timetable despite questions about whether there’s enough time set aside to consider the concerns of the people of North Herts.

Time was the buzzword at North Herts District Council’s offices at a meeting on Thursday when members agreed to adopt a timetable which will see a proposed submission draft of the Local Plan – the district’s development blueprint for the next 15 years – to a meeting of the full council in July.

Officers have been considering 8,500 representations already received about proposals which identify the need for at least 14,400 homes to be built across the district by 2031.

Councillor Terry Hone said: “There could be a detrimental effect on the amount of money we could get from the government for our New Homes Bonus if we do not have a Local Plan in place.

“This means that £2.5m – or part of it – could be in jeopardy.”

Councillor Steve Jarvis said: “The first time which the proposals become visible to anyone could be as little as two weeks before the council meeting.

“I think that because of the scale of the considerations, it will be very difficult to manage.”

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Councillor Ian Mantle said: “It is incredible that it has gone on this long – I think it is about to set a record. It has been pushed back and forward by people, and not helped by people in government who seem to think you solve the housing crisis by waving the magic wand. I would urge that we put some speed behind this to get it adopted.”

District councillors also debated – some reluctantly – on the issue of members’ allowances, the result of which saw them approve the Independent Remuneration Panel’s recommendations of not increasing allowances and reducing the mileage rate to bring it in line with HMRC guidelines (45p per mile).

Councillor Judi Billing said: “We have been arguing for years that it would be sensible to go to the HMRC rate for mileage so I welcome that.”