January

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Application to redevelop the GP Surgery at 1 Stevenage Road

Negotiations are continuing to find a better building for the Knebworth and Marymead Medical Practice. I have had meetings with Stephen McPartland and Richard Thake to establish how to move forward on this problem. The owner of the existing surgery had submitted a planning application to redevelop the site, although this has now been withdrawn. The site currently occupied by Knebworth Library in St Martins Road is currently the preferred location. Plans have been produced to redevelop this site to become a building which can house both the library and the surgery.

Pondcroft Road, Milestone Road, Gun Lane Draft Traffic Regulation Order

I attended a meeting with Transport Officers at NHDC on 17th November. Both Cllr. Richard Thake and Cllr. Julian Cunningham, portfolio holder for Transport were present. We discussed preliminary proposals to further restrict parking on Watton Road and also a Traffic Regulation Order to create a Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) covering Milestone Road and Pondcroft Road, which currently suffer from parking by commuters and both visitors and employees using the shops and offices in London Road. Our decision was to leave the parking arrangements in Watton Road unchanged, as there was too little support for the proposed changes, and to introduce the CPZ. A number of recommendations on relatively minor amendments to double yellow line positions in Station Road and Deanscroft were also accepted.

Norton Green Common

I am pleased to report that Knebworth Parish Council has entered into a Stewardship Agreement with Natural England for the management of Norton Green Common. This agreement comes with over seven hundred pounds of grants from Natural England to restore the Common to a good condition. However the work needs to be done and the subcommittee are looking for volunteers to do it! It is planned to hold a stall at the Christmas Fete to attract interest. It is hoped that two days of will be organised in the New Year when volunteers will be invited to work on clearance of the Common. For more information please contact the Clerk of the Parish Council. In addition to the grant from Natural England, now the Common is registered it is eligible for payments from the Rural Payments Agency. This would not have been possible without a lot of hard work on the part of Rosemary Pateman, Karen Robinson and the Clerk.

Local Plan

After a fairly tempestuous NHDC council meeting in the sports hall at the North Herts Leisure Centre in Letchworth, where over three hundred members of the public turned up, the council decided to agree to go to consultation on the current draft of the Local Plan. This plan is intended to shape development in the district up until 2031 (and in reality at least five years beyond this date). It is the biggest change to planning in the district since 1996. The plan includes forty two documents specifying policies on all aspects of development, and represents a huge effort on the part of the planning policy officers and the portfolio holder, David Levett. It includes a ‘Preferred Options’ document which list the sites which are most suitable for development, and therefore, in many cases, are proposed to be removed from the Green Belt. These sites include two which are in Knebworth, providing space for 411 homes and a new primary school.

The plan is available online on the NHDC website, and at Knebworth Library. The consultation period will have already started by the time you read this, and will continue until the first week of February. The Parish Council is a statutory consultee in this process, and will welcome your views. You may also send them direct to NHDC Planning Policy: just go to the ‘Current Policy and Projects Consultations’ page. The consultation process is a part of local democracy, and this is an important opportunity for you to have your say. I strongly encourage you to take part. I will ensure that any emails or letters I receive will be fed into the consultation process.

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