Monday, 29 November 2021

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Leaflets promoting 'Barclay Grange'

Leaflets promoting 'Barclay Grange'

Clarification from the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group

In July you may have received a leaflet by post entitled ‘Barclay Grange, London Road.  Public Consultation’.   Recently, towards the end August 2021 further leaflets were posted to homes in Hertford Heath

It is important to point out that this material was NOT distributed with the knowledge and consent of either the Parish Council or the Neighbourhood Plan team.  It was delivered on behalf of the landowner and the developer, who have not identified themselves in ANY of their promotional materials and are relying on a third-party messaging service as a means of contacting them without revealing their identity.

As you may know, the Neighbourhood Plan was developed following several consultation exercises, surveys, research, and analysis.  To meet Government housing requirements, 84 new homes are to be built by 2033.   As all these could not be accommodated as “in-fills” within the village, a larger site was needed.  Only two were identified – the site proposed by Haileybury and the London Road site (now presented as ’Barclay Grange’).

Both sites were considered carefully and the Haileybury site was chosen after considering all the arguments put forward by both developers, environmental factors, AND the opinions of residents.  The Haileybury site is now the ONLY site suggested in the Neighbourhood Plan.  The London Road site was rejected.

The pre-submission document provides full information and CAN BE FOUND HERE, although we realise that this is a long and complex document.  In the first leaflet delivered the landowner of the London Road site chose to repeat some of the earlier promises made.  However, they have since modified suggestions they previous made so it may help to review a summary of the conclusions reached following input from residents:

  1. Whilst a medical centre would be welcome, this is not within the power of the landowner.  Our research showed that due to the size and location of the village it is extremely unlikely that such a facility could be developed. Indeed, local medical facilities are being consolidated rather than expanded.  WE NOTE THAT IN THE SECOND LEAFLET DELIVERED, ANY REFERENCE TO MEDICAL FACILITIES HAS BEEN REMOVED.
     
  2. Commercial operations such as village shops need enough local customers to exist.  We currently have one shop.  Others have closed due to insufficient business and not as the London Road landowner suggests that they were. quote ' Not fit for purpose'.  In the second leaflet entitled 'Barclay Grange Update' the landowner states that the local community is very supportive of a new community store.  It is true that many residents would welcome another store but the reality is that businesses must be commercially viable.  The landowner cannot guarantee that anyone would see this as a potential business opportunity and the size and demographic of the village suggests that there would be insuffient footfall.

  3. The second leaflet now suggests the inclusion of a Post Office.  This could only occur if it was a 'Community Post Office' (housed within another store).  Again, this would need to be commercially viable and an additional business venture by anyone occupying a new store.   Please remember that the land owner is only suggesting building empty premises.  They have no control over what businesses might operate in them.  Suggestions of a general store, post office, tea room are just that - suggestions - not promises to deliver these things.
     
  4. A ‘community hub building’ would be handed to the Parish Council, with all the costs associated with maintaining that.  In the second leaflet, the landowner suggests that this would not be a burden on the Parish Council by providing a lifetime peppercorn rent.  This is a new suggestion, made well afer all the Neighbourhood Plan consultations.   However, there would still be considerable costs involved in the running of such a building. The alternative Haileybury proposal involves discussions about improving the existing village hall which have no cost implications.  The landowner also now suggests that removing the Parish Council 'equipment and files' from the village hall would free up capacity for community groups.  This is not the case.  Anything stored in the viillage hall by the council has no impact at all on availability for community groups.
     
  5. Traffic calming measures and crossings are the responsibility of Hertfordshire County Council Highways department and NOT any developer.  For any development, the planning application would require a comprehensive Transport Assessment.  The landowner has suggested three options for road/crossing layouts and has asked for feedback on these plans.  We stress that any feedback provided to the landowner is nothing to do with the Neighbourhood planning process.  They do acknowledge that final decisions would be reached in conjunction with the Parish Council and in agreement with Hertfordshire County Council Highways so at this stage, any suggestions are irrelevant.
     
  6. A car park with charging points would be especially useful, but the feedback was that it would not solve pavement parking in other areas of the village as it would be too far away.  Some local businesses are already in the process of installing charging points.
     
  7. The offer of a ‘financial sum’ towards the cost of footpath extensions is only useful if permissions can be obtained to build the path on private land.  You may know that there is something called ‘Section 106’.  This is an agreement between any developer and East Herts Council to fund community improvements to mitigate the impact of development on the local community and infrastructure.

  8. The landowner suggests that consultations may have misled people into thinking that there may be an option for one smaller site as the original Haileybury site was considered as two separate plaots.  This is clearly NOT the case. As well as promoting every stage of consultations via regular newsletters and updates, all relevant documents were published on the Neighbourhood Plan website in a timely manor and a record kept of the number of viweings and downloads of all documents.

We would stress that the previous ‘consultation’ requiring comments by 23rd July was NOT part of any Neighbourhood Plan consultation process.  Of course,residents are free to engage with the developer but if you do so, we suggest you email them your specific concerns as the feedback form provided on the developer’s website appears to only provide an opportunity to support the London Road scheme but not to challenge anything.  WE NOTE THAT THE LANDOWNER HAS NOT PUBLISHED THE FEEDBACK THEY SAY THEY HAVE RECEIVED.  All OFFICIAL feedback received during the process can be downloaded from the HHNP WEBSITE.

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