NB provided a map showing the outline of the Hemel Garden Communities including wider routes shown with green arrows. The area hatched pink on the map was shown as the Hertford Innovation Quarter commercial area.
There has been a policy update with the Department for Transport’s decarbonising plan and 2021 has seen a spatial vision presented that has been endorsed by the Council’s cabinet and by Hertfordshire County Council, as well as it being noted by St Albans.
NB explained that other work streams include the framework plan. This particular piece of work is looking at delivering a spatial plan and strategic infrastructure for the growth areas. Work on the transport plan is continuing at pace with a range of stakeholder and council engagement activities since May 2021.
The Council has received funding from the government and significant commitments of contributions from the 3 authorities. There has also been further work on communications of engagement as well as a draft strategy with branding and a website that should be delivered by February.
NB showed a diagram showing the key workstreams. The spatial vision is the overarching document that influences all of the work that is done. The key workstreams include the transport plan, the framework plan, the infrastructure delivery plan and the transformation workstream. The transformation workstream will include some further evidence such as green infrastructure strategy and working alongside the Hemel Place team to make sure transformation is delivered together.
NB explained that the transport plan runs to 2050 and it’s key for informing the local plans. The transport plan will also set a vision, goal and aims as well as costed transport interventions with a phasing delivery plan. This includes an active travel network focusing on walking and cycling and delivering transport hubs or multi modal transport interchanges. They will be focused at local centres and key destinations. The idea is to create a network for the bus improvements.
Another big move, NB noted, is the Hertford and Essex rapid transit system. This cuts across the town, starting at Hemel Hempstead railway station and working along the A414 corridor towards Harlow.
The future sees improvements to the bus network, behaviour change, low traffic neighbourhoods, changes to parking, freight and emerging technologies, such as electric vehicle charging, e-scooters and e-bikes and whatever comes forward in the future. The framework plan is a concept spatial plan that sets out spatial and infrastructure framework requirements for the new growth areas and transformational requirements for the wider town. This will set out the scope of the strategic infrastructure that is needed to support the new integrated neighbourhoods with the new local centres, the commercial development, as part of Herts IQ, social infrastructure services and facilities and supporting active and sustainable travel infrastructure and much more.
The Hemel Garden Communities Programme has a governance structure that includes member engagement through the delivery board and it is through the councillor visioning group that meets regularly. This comprises 5 representatives from St Albans, 5 from Dacorum and 1 from the County Council. There are also engagement activities with members as the strategy develops. In addition, there is a webinar on 15th December to share specialist knowledge on sustainable transport. In addition, public engagement activity during February on the transport survey is expected.
Cllr Birnie asked what 40% of affordable homes means in real numbers.
NB replied that HGC of the 11,500 homes that are planned to be built as part of future housing delivery (which includes 5,500 in St Albans), 40% overall will be affordable. NB will deliver more information about the mix and tenure when this is known.
Cllr JT spoke about the impact of future homes being built in Great Gaddesden on its residents with the number of homes proposed to increase from 600 to 6,000. PT also asked for more information on the proposed road linking the M1 to the area.
NB explained that the Great Gaddesden parish was being consulted already. The proposed road is part of the framework plan and transport plan. The road is about delivering local links to the town and not about have orbital movement between the M1 and Leighton Buzzard Road. As part of the consultation on the road the Council has workshops taking place currently.
Cllr RB did not feel that e-scooters should be encouraged as part of the plan when they are not currently legal on the roads, unless they are part of a trial.
NB said that all types of transport were being looked at because this plan goes up to 2050. The Council was looking at what infrastructure is required for e-scooters to have them in the borough.
Cllr AE felt that with the borough being quite hilly e-scooters should be encouraged in the future, noting that it was important that pedestrians were protected from harm from e-scooters as well.
Cllr Birnie asked what form of transport the ‘rapid transport’ network was envisaged to be.
NB confirmed that this was work being managed by the County Council and buses were the most likely option but this is currently at the consultation stage.
Cllr AE asked for an update on the Nicky line extension.
NB responded that one of the proposals was to make it more than a leisure route, but a feasibility study needed to be carried out first.
NB stated that for private car use, the aim is to encourage local traffic, rather than establish rat runs by through traffic from outside of the borough. Bus gates and breaks in routes are being considered to help prevent this. The aim to reduce private car use also involves mobility hubs. Residents will still be able to have their own private cars, but the attitude to private car usage it is hoped will change in the next 20-30 years. Parking will still be catered for as part of the growth plans and parking standards will continue to apply to planning permissions. But walking and cycling will be encouraged as well as the reduction in the use of the private car. The parking strategy will be the next step in the transport plan and more detail will be presented to the Council . It is expected more will be known in the summer of 2022.
Cllr Birnie noted that the problem for much of the transport plan and the development generally is creating the necessary infrastructure and obtaining funding from sources other than S106 contributions.
NB said that a costed approach for infrastructure was required and it needed to be implemented in a phased manner. An infrastructure study will be carried out that sets out all of the infrastructure requirements that are needed for the Garden Communities Programme. Other Garden Communities have secured large amounts of government funding towards infrastructure but it is important that the project does not wipe out all of the borough’s access to other infrastructure funding.
Cllr AA spoke about the infrastructure that was needed to support the building plans across the county. The Herts/Essex rapid transport project is open to consultation at the moment. People will use the most convenient mode of transport.
Cllr Birnie supported the idea of an improved bus network but was pessimistic about establishing it because of commercial constraints.
The County Council will present at a future meeting on the transport plan when greater detail is to hand.
The report was noted.