Agenda item

South West Herts Joint Strategic plan


J. Doe introduced Chris Outtersides.  CO reported on some key points on the work undertaken on the JSP.  The JSP is a strategy plan focusing on strategic housing, employment, infrastructure and green belt and AONB issues.  The JSP will also look further than growth at issues such as Climate Change and Negative Carbon etc.  

Cllr Birnie asked whether 1.4 bullet point 3 extends to water and sewerage CO confirmed that it does and discussions have already begun with Thames Water and Affinity Water about the long term strategic growth opportunities across SW Hertfordshire.

CO explained the benefits of the JSP which will allow us to unlock infrastructure investment now, the ability for us to look at planning across the larger canvas which does allow us to have a better conversation with government about infrastructure funding and the plan could be adopted in 2024/25 giving us 12 years to get the infrastructure in place before the growth comes along.  The other benefit is that although CO works for DBC he does represent the other four districts in the County in the JSP, and gives us the bigger canvas to make decisions in terms of future growth and the best approach for growth across SW Hertfordshire. The benefits of a JSP will be about the capacity of SW Hertfordshire to deliver good growth in the long term and looking at how to deal with growth and the infrastructure interventions that are needed to deliver the growth. The sovereignty of the JSP will rest with each of the Districts and the Boroughs in the County and there is no intention to form a joint committee. 

Cllr Birnie asked does that mean that it is not a first step towards a unitary council.  CO confirmed that it is exactly means that it is not a first step towards a unitary council and he could not emphasise the point enough that this is a SW Hertfordshire’s Boroughs and Districts plan.

In terms of the work done to date, CO summarised the success of the SW Hertfordshire “Your Future Engagement” that took place last year.  It was largely an online consultation and not about the JSP and did not mention housing and planning, but it was more an engagement exercise to reach out to the people of SW Hertfordshire.  There is now a body of about 600-700 people who volunteered to be used for workshops, testing, focus groups etc. to evolve the thinking about the evolution of the plan.  Also work has been undertaken on the Growth Locations Study which is a complicated piece of planning work that is effectively trying to knit together five Local Plans in terms of the growth that the Local Plans are producing and looking at the potential available growth options moving forward and the sustainable transport interventions that potentially will be needed.  This work is currently not ready for publication.  However, one of the key interventions and inputs into this **report is to ensure that all infrastructure stakeholders that have a part to play in the long term strategic growth. 

Another piece of work that CO is undertaking is to lift the profile of the JSP.  There is a very active planning group, a strategic members group and a chief officer steering group.  A Strategic Planning Member Group meeting took place in March and a 2021/22 Work Programme was agreed.  It is an ambitious Work Programme and will mean that work on the JSP will be stepped up and also means that we will be going back to first principles in terms of what do we want the JSP to achieve.  There are four key strands of work that CO is proposing in the 2021/22 Work Programme that are set out in bullet point 2.3, and there is a statement of common ground that is currently being drafted which will be brought back through each of the various delegations and planning committees and cabinets through the partnership which will really commit to the JSP moving forward.  It will set the scope of JSP and it will set the timing and budget implications which CO is expecting to come through late summer/early autumn.  There is a statement of Community Involvement for the JSP which is a procedural planning document that needs to be prepared before we can move to the statutory plan making in the JSP.  The third bullet point is an Envisioning and Engagement piece which will reach out to Members, the public and stakeholders and communities and businesses to establish what the vision is for the JSP.  Then there will be a more formal consultation of the JSP simply be on the Vision and the Engagement.

In conclusion, paragraph 2.8 and the relationship with Government.  Whilst the White Paper was not great news for Strategic Planning CO is confident that in the future the revisions to the planning system will reflect Government support.

Cllr Birnie thanked CO for his report and asked if there were any questions.

Cllr Silwal asked with regard to 1.3 and the plan being reviewed in 2036/50 if there would be any change in the date Also, if any of the five Councils withdraw then what would happen to the JSP? CO replied that in terms of the date the JSP is a post Local Plan matter and the JSP will take the Local Plans as read across the five SW Hertfordshire Districts and the start date will have to reflect the Local Plan dates across the five Authorities and they are all different.  The 2050 date can be pushed out and there is no reason why it cannot be amended but the ability for the JSP to be brought forward is limited at this point in time due to Local Plans dates. Regarding any of the Authorities withdrawing, its effect on   the JSP will depend on how far down the line it is.  Part of the mitigation is that CO will be available to Committees such as this to ensure that as many people as possible are kept informed.

Cllr Stevens asked about paragraph 2.8 and where it takes us CO responded that was not a great deal of Strategic Planning reference in the White Paper.  The Strategic Planning Members Group put a submission back to the Government about the lack of reference.  Since then it has been recognised that this was an oversight

Cllr Timmis was interested in the polls that were conducted online with over 600 people responding and the third bullet point of the key findings was about what people’s priorities were and one was better health facilities.  She asked whether there was anything SW Hertfordshire’s project could do about this  Also another question was about making it easier to get about.CO replied a lot of this was done prior to Covid and people put their hands up for better health facilities.  CO attends a recently formed meeting co-ordinated through HCC and the NHS and CCG’s across SW Hertfordshire looking at how better to join up health provision facilities and feed back into planning applications and Local Plans.  J. Doe also said that there was better engagement with the health service now and there is a cross county working group now to get into the wider more strategic elements of the health care needs.  With regard to the strategic transport it is a slightly longer term plan and that will enable us to plug into how people’s behaviour changes as a result of Covid which will need to be taken into consideration.  There is a further piece of ongoing work is the Hertfordshire Mass Transit Project which will run between Hemel Hempstead and Harlow.

The report was noted.


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