No, I did not vote to develop sites around Knebworth

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TL;DR:

In the NHDC Council Meeting of 11th April 2017 I voted to save public consultation responses from the shredder. My political opponents are painting this as if I voted to build on fields all around Knebworth. As I have repeatedly said in the past, I am opposed to all Green Belt development around the village.

The actual resolutions I voted for:

I have had a number of local residents contacting me stating that I voted for development to take place on sites around Knebworth. This is simply untrue. In the meeting of the full Council on 11th April 2017, I voted for the following motion:

(1) That the results of the Proposed Submission consultation, as set out in the Regulation 22 Consultation Statement attached as Appendix 1 to the report, be noted and recorded;

(2) That the new Local Plan for North Hertfordshire, attached as Appendix 2 to the report, together with the Schedule of Proposed Additional Modifications attached as Appendix 3, and other associated documentation, be approved and submitted for examination by the Secretary of State;

(3) That the revised Local Development Scheme for North Hertfordshire, attached as Appendix 4 to the report, be approved with effect from 12 April 2017;

(4) That delegated powers be granted to the Head of Development and Building Control, in consultation with the Executive Member for Planning and Enterprise, to produce such additional documentation as is required (including documentation requested by the appointed Inspector and the proposing of main modifications) before and during the examination of the Local Plan; and

(5) That Officers continue to regularly update Members on the progress of the Examination through the Strategic Planning Matters reports which are submitted to Cabinet.

REASON FOR DECISION: To ensure that North Hertfordshire continues to progress a new Local Plan for the management of development in the District.

Further details of the meeting, including Appendix 1 mentioned in the resolution may be read on the NHDC website here.

This motion is purely about allowing the public consultation that took place in late 2016 to be examined. This is not about the Council ignoring this consultation: under the very rigidly defined process for producing a Local Plan, responses to the consultation on the Draft Plan are examined by a Planning Inspector on behalf of the Secretary of State.

There is no possibility of me voting to approve the Local Plan. Members of NHDC do not have the power to do this. This power is vested in the Secretary of State for DCLG. The Examination in Public finished last month, and the Inspector will use this as the basis on which to write his Report, which will be submitted to the Secretary of State for adoption. This may happen in 2019, at the earliest.

As I have written before, the Local Plan does not give permission for the development of any sites around Knebworth. Before any sites on the periphery of the village are developed they will have to obtain full planning permission which will include the normal consultation process that is required before planning permission is granted. This will be withheld unless applicants can demonstrate that access and supporting infrastructure are adequate.

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