Draft Local Plan 2020 to 2038

Living Magazines Dacorum Local Plan

The below provides further information on the Draft Local Plan from Berkhamsted Citizens Association. You can also read more on a previous article we shared.

Dacorum Borough Council has prepared a new Draft Local Plan covering the period 2020 to 2038. This went to public consultation on 27 November 2020 and the consultation period runs until Sunday 7 February 2021. Once adopted, the Local Plan will replace the Site Allocations Development Plan (adopted July 2017), the Core Strategy Development Plan (adopted September 2013) & those ‘saved’ parts of the Dacorum Borough Local Plan (adopted May 2004). The link to the Local Plan consultation on the DBC website is: http://www.dacorum.gov.uk/home/planning-development/planning-strategic-planning/new-single-local-plan.

Please Note: The Chiltern Society have grave concerns about this plan and have organised a virtual event on 14 January to discuss. More on The Chiltern Society website.

The Core Strategy document from 2013 was intended to cover the period up to 2031; however, the ‘weight’ that can be given to policies that were adopted more than five years ago is diminishing, and in any case the Core Strategy Inspector did identify that a wholesale review of the Plan would be required after five years or so. There have also been several changes to the planning system nationally since the above documents were adopted and the new Local Plan should reflect these national policies and frameworks.

The new Draft Local Plan follows on from the ‘Issues and Options’ consultation, to which DBC received 22,000 responses from 2,000 individuals and organisations such as Berkhamsted Citizens. Whilst the Draft Local Plan document does reference the concerns ‘raised by residents’ to, for example, the insufficiency of local infrastructure to support development, it appears that the primary driver behind the Local Plan is the need to comply with requirements imposed by central government in the form of the changes to planning, the need to increase house building and to ‘build, build, build’.

In the ‘Issues and Options’ document, three years ago, DBC considered three target figures for growth: the draft Government figure of 602 homes a year; the ‘locally assessed level of need’ – of about 756 homes a year – set out within DBC’s Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA). An ‘upper range’ Government target set a figure of about 1,100 homes a year. In the current Draft Local Plan, DBC’s target is now 922 homes per year, yielding 16,596 new homes over the 18 years of the Plan. The majority of this growth is focused on Hemel Hempstead (10,650 dwellings), with 2,230 in Berkhamsted and 2,730 in Tring. Much lower new homes targets are set for Bovingdon, Kings Langley, Markyate and elsewhere. The method of determining the numbers of new homes required – also referred to as ‘housing need’ – is a contentious subject and there have been many challenges, locally and nationally, to the determination of the level of housing need and the ways of satisfying that need. How to ensure that the right numbers of new homes is provided and the right mix of accommodation types and tenures is a complex problem to solve.

In addition to significant releases of Green Belt land to the north and north-east of Hemel Hempstead, the Draft Local Plan includes releases of Green Belt land to the south and west of Berkhamsted, along with sites east and south-east of Tring. An extension of the employment site at Bourne End is also envisaged, and part of the development to the south-east of Tring is earmarked for employment opportunities.

Interestingly, the euphemistic term ‘Growth Sites’ (which number thirteen in Berkhamsted), reflects the nomenclature in the government ‘Planning for the Future’ White Paper. ‘Growth Sites’ automatically clear the first Planning hurdle by having outline planning permission automatically granted.

The ‘Growth sites’ include a number of discrete areas between the fringe of the existing built-up area south of the town and the A41. The area between Darrs Lane and Bell Lane in Northchurch is earmarked for development, and several ‘infill’ sites e.g. the Jewsons site in Billet Lane, the ‘Lidl’ site in Gossoms End, and land at the rear of the Civic Centre are scheduled for housing. These ‘Growth Sites’ would yield about 2,000 new homes in total.

Please visit the link to the Local Plan consultation on the DBC website is: http://www.dacorum.gov.uk/home/planning-development/planning-strategic-planning/new-single-local-plan, scroll down to where it says Have your Say and either click on the button or email responses@dacorum.gov.uk.