Why a Plan for Radlett?
Radlett is a property hotspot and one of the most prosperous places in Britain. The demand for homes has increased significantly and new Permitted Development Rights are putting further pressure on land used for local employment, services and light industry. Due to the Green Belt boundary around Radlett’s settlement area, growing demand will be potentially only met through in-fill or redevelopment of existing brownfield sites within the settlement area.
An adopted Neighbourhood Plan, once adopted through a positive public vote, cannot prevent development, but it articulates what sort of development is encouraged, supported and expected by many. It informs landowners, investors and Hertsmere Council's Planning Committee about the characteristics, opportunities and unique challenges of Radlett.
Video explaining Neighbourhood Planning:
Geographical scope of the Radlett Plan
It was agreed that the Plan should be limited to Radlett, the urban centre of the Parish, as the development pressures relating to the outlying villages and hamlets are different and largely addressed via robust Green Belt policies. Policies in the Radlett Plan only apply in this area:
In recent years, much of our housing land supply within the Radlett Plan area has come from windfall sites – sites which were not specifically earmarked for development in the Hertsmere Borough’s Local Plan. This has given rise to the concern that this type of piecemeal development is causing harm to the character of the village.
Such small scale speculative developments also make it more challenging to secure the funding necessary to deliver supporting infrastructure improvements and affordable housing. In our view, a number of factors are driving an increased demand for residential development in Radlett, such as:
- A large proportion of residents aged 65 years and older (18.5% of the total population per the 2011 Census, compared to 15.6% for England), creates a high demand for smaller ‘downsized’ properties e.g. bungalows, well designed flats or small houses. However, 45% of existing local homes have 4+ bedrooms compared to 21% in Hertsmere Borough Council as a whole;
- Larger, modern family homes are nevertheless sought by an increasing number of families who move out of London into our attractive, affluent rural commuter village;
- The demand for larger family homes has stimulated developers to buy up sites (often occupied by bungalows or smaller houses) and redevelop these into very large family homes/mansions with six to seven bedrooms
Residents have been concerned for some time about this imbalance in the local housing market and how in parts the Local Plan and development control processes are being applied to Radlett, namely:
- The loss of smaller homes, particularly bungalows, despite the previous Hertsmere Borough Council Local Plan 2003 policy H6 Policy: Retention of Existing Residential Accommodation;
- Large re-developed homes are altering the character of streets, townscape and landscape;
Following the introduction of the Localism Act 2011, the Parish Council recognised that in preparing the Neighbourhood Development Plan there would be an opportunity to study the character of Radlett, address some of these concerns and shape local development informed by a better understanding of the prevailing character as well as facts and figures from the 2011 Census.
What is a Neighbourhood Plan?
Neighbourhood Planning was introduced by the 2011 Localism Act to allow communities to shape development in their areas through the production of Neighbourhood Development Plans, Neighbourhood Development Orders and Community Right to Build Orders.
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) states in paragraph 150 that: ‘Local Plans are the key to delivering sustainable development that reflects the vision and aspirations of local communities. Planning decisions must be taken in accordance with the development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise’. Policies should be consistent with the principles in the NPPF, including the presumption in favour of sustainable development.
The Radlett Plan does support the National Planning Policy Framework’s “presumption in favour of sustainable development” and is in general conformity with the NPPF’s and with HBC’s strategic planning policies. However, if there is more detail or a departure from the existing non-strategic policies in the HBC’s Local Plan, the Radlett Neighbourhood Development Plan (The Radlett Plan) policies can take precedence subject to robust and relevant evidence.
Once adopted, the Neighbourhood Development Plan Policies carry legal weight when planning decisions are being made within the Radlett Neighbourhood Plan Area (click1st yellow box).
The Radlett Plan must be taken into account when HBC, which are the Planning Authority, are deciding whether or not to grant planning permission. There is a presumption in favour of adopted Neighbourhood Plan policies unless material considerations indicate otherwise. Emerging Neighbourhood Plan policies can constitute ‘material considerations’ in determining planning applications.
This is the first time that local communities have the opportunity to create planning policies with this degree of formal weight.
When a planning application is submitted to HBC, the Borough Planning Officers are required to refer to the Radlett Plan (alongside the Borough’s own Local Plan and the National Planning Policy Framework) and check whether the proposed development is in keeping with the policies stated in the Radlett Plan. In planning terms, the policies set out in Section 3 of this document are the most important part of the Radlett Plan.
All matters that require planning permission fall within the remit of Neighbourhood Plan Policies. However, there are some limitations to what Neighbourhood Plans can achieve, for example:
- They cannot promote a lesser number of homes than is set out in the Local Plan.
- They cannot override national Green Belt policy or re-draw Green Belt boundaries.
- They deal essentially with spatial issues such as the where, how and what can be built; they cannot address enforcement issues such as speed limits, traffic management measures, parking regulations, designate conservation areas or enforcement of Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) and matters of Licensing.
- While service issues such as the funding of a bus route is not spatial, NPs can encourage funding for these through developer contributions and identifying them as Community Infrastructure Levy Priorities and in the Community Priority Projects Section of the plan.
Community Priority Projects
During the development of our Neighbourhood Plan, a number of initiatives were proposed to enhance the neighbourhood socially, economically and environmentally. These do sometimes not fall within the remit of town and country planning or can be delivered through a Neighbourhood Development Plan. However, these issues were extremely important to the community and it is clear that these are areas which need to be addressed and dealt with to provide the results that the local people want to see. We have called these initiatives “Community Priority Projects” and have included them in Section 4 of the Radlett Plan..
We propose to advance these projects through Aldenham Parish Council (APC), working as needed in partnership with HBC, Hertfordshire County Council (HCC), developers and other partners including local groups and associations. It is the intention that these projects should be financed where possible by the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), S106 monies from developers and other funds as they become available.
Lifespan of the Radlett Plan Policies
The Radlett Plan has a lifespan of 18 years, taking us to 2036, which is in concurrence with the Hertsmere’s New Local Plan. We recognise that the Plan will be delivered and implemented by different stakeholders and partners and that it is not a rigid blueprint; instead it provides a framework for change through its stated vision, objectives, policies and projects. As new challenges and opportunities are likely to arise over the plan period, the intention is for the Radlett Plan to be reviewed every five years in line with the latest regulations.