This section is all about developing the Neighbourhood Plan for the future. The tasks needed to produce our plan can be grouped into 6 key stages, the first two of which are already complete. (We had originally grouped the steps into five stages). The stages are:

Stage 1

Define the Neighbourhood Plan area

This has been done and approved by North Herts District Council as the boundary of the Parish of Preston.

Determine if the parishioners would like a Neighbourhood Plan for Preston

At a public meeting, in our Village Hall on 26th June 2016, a large majority of the 35 residents attending voted in favour of producing a Neighbourhood Plan for this parish.

Stage 2

Identify the issues that will be addressed in the Neighbourhood Plan

This was done by means of a survey and additional information gathering. You have given us your opinions on what you see as the positives of our parish and, if you feel there are any negatives what they are and how they can be improved upon. We have gathered information on:

  • Quality of life
  • Amenities and facillities
  • Housing and development
  • Environment and heritage
  • Transport and communication

The survey results were presented at a meeting on Sunday 30th April, held at Princess Helena College. Printed copies of the “Questionnaire Results” report from our market researchers were provided (one per household attending) at the meeting and then copies delivered to the remaining households in the parish.

Electronic copies of the Questionnaires and Survey Report are available via the Your Say page.

Define Objectives and Draft Plan

The recommended order for developing a neighbourhood plan is to define the objectives and then design the policies to deliver the objectives. Other sections of the plan provide the context and the evidence that supports the policies.

Stage 3 – in progress

Parishioner Review of Objectives

The objectives were made available to parishioners for review. These have been revised to reflect the consensus of opinion and to incorporate useful suggestions both for content and language.

An electronic copy of the draft of the Objectives, as presented to parishioners for review, is available via the Your Say page.

Obtain Independent Professional Help to Finalise Draft Plan

Planning is a complex area and neighbourhood plans are still relatively new. Hence even with the expertise available within our parish it is prudent to obtain independent professional advice and assistance.

Finalise Draft Plan

Ensure (with independent help) that the draft plan meets all relevant criteria and legislation.

Conduct Informal Consultation (Regulation 14)

Before submitting a plan proposal to the local planning authority, there must be an informal consultation with any parties likely to be affected including all residents within the Parish. The aim is to address any issues, where possible, before formal consultation and examination.

This is for 6 weeks, from Monday 8 January to Sunday 18 February.

Stage 4 (Regulation 16)

Conduct the formal round of public consultation, which is required, with the community and also with statutory bodies and others including:

  • The County Council
  • Local Authority
  • Neighbouring Parish Councils
  • The Environment Agency
  • English Heritage
  • Natural England
  • Landowners and any community organisations that will be affected by the Plan.

This should last for at least 6 weeks.

Stage 5

Examination of the Neighbourhood Plan by an independent examiner to evaluate our plan to ensure it meets all statutory obligations.

Stage 6

Referendum conducted and paid for by NHDC – assuming that the examiner recommends that our draft Neighbourhood Plan can proceed. The question that the referendum has to ask is:

Do you want NHDC to use the neighbourhood plan for Preston to help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area?

Anybody registered to vote in the area covered by the Neighbourhood Plan will be entitled to vote. A simple majority of votes (over 50% of those voting) in favour of our Neighbourhood Plan is sufficient for it to succeed.

Stages 4 to 6 are organised and paid for by North Herts District Council.

See also: What is a Neighbourhood Plan?