Hertfordshire council blames pandemic for local plan delay

A Hertfordshire local authority has pushed back the publication of its new draft local plan from this year to next spring, saying coronavirus measures have held up the public consultation process.

View of Shenley, within the borough of Hertsmere - image: Peter O'Connor / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
View of Shenley, within the borough of Hertsmere - image: Peter O'Connor / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Hertsmere Borough Council's new local plan would be used to guide decisions on the delivery of new homes, schools, employment and services across the borough up to 2036.

According to the council, the process of creating the new local plan began in 2016.

As part of the plan-making process, an issues and options consultation was held in 2017, followed in 2018 by an eight-week consultation on potential sites for housing and employment.

A statement from the council said that a submission draft of the local plan had due to be published this year, but, due to the coronavirus pandemic, this timetable has now slipped.

Head of planning Ross Whear said: “The decision to delay publication of our plan has not been taken lightly. However, it has become apparent that the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the need for additional preparatory work means it would be impossible to keep to our original timetable.”

He added the delay “means we can spend more time getting everything right and ensuring a smooth progression to the next stage of the local plan process”.

Portfolio holder for planning, councillor Harvey Cohen, said: “Coronavirus has made it more difficult to run public consultations in the usual way by holding exhibitions or inviting people to speak to members or councillors face-to-face.”

He added: “All through the pandemic, we've been working tirelessly towards this goal – and that work will continue apace, until we have adopted a new local plan and a clear way forward for our borough’s growth.”

According to the council statement, following the publication of the plan, there will be a six-week consultation period when members of the public and other interested parties will be asked to give their views on the plan, before it is submitted to the secretary of state for examination.  

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