Progress is being made by St Albans City and District Council over its work with neighbouring local authorities on its Strategic Local Plan (SLP).
A “highly constructive” meeting was held recently with Dacorum, Hertsmere, Three Rivers and Watford councils to discuss issues of mutual concern. Those four councils form the South West Herts Authorities (SWHA).
The meeting was attended by senior representatives from all five councils including leaders, planning portfolio holders, chief executives and senior planning officers.
Topics covered included the approaches to future housing and economic development needs across the whole of south-west Hertfordshire.
It was hosted by Hertsmere Borough Council and independently chaired by Mike Kiely, chair of the Planning Officers Society, on Friday 20 January.
Further meetings are now being arranged to consider in detail the issues raised and any actions that might be considered.
The first of these meetings, scheduled for next month, will be on technical issues and attended by planning officers.
It will help address what strategic cross-boundary priorities will need to appear in each council’s Local Plan.
It will also hear from the consultants who wrote the housing and economic development technical studies about where and why their methodologies differ.
Housing Vision are the consultants who provided St Albans with its housing technical studies. GL Hearn provided the SWHA with their housing technical study and acted jointly with Regenesis to produce the SWHA economic development study.
The outcome of this meeting will be options for consideration at a joint political meeting in March. Attendance at this second meeting is expected to mirror that of last week’s meeting in Borehamwood.
The discussion follows a Planning Inspector’s finding that prior to submission of its SLP, St Albans had not met its duty to co-operate with the other councils.
The SLP sets out policies on development in the District until 2031, identifying land for new housing, infrastructure, commerce, industry and social amenities.
It was produced following two public consultations.
Councillor Julian Daly, the Council’s Leader and Portfolio Holder for the SLP, attended last week’s meeting.
Cllrs David Yates and Iain Grant, planning spokespersons for the Liberal Democrat and Labour groups respectively, were also there.
Cllr Daly said: “Our joint meeting with neighbouring Councils was highly constructive and maps a way forward.
“It was very useful to have everyone around the table, discussing how best we can approach some of the obstacles that stand in the way of adopting a Local Plan.
“We are open to discussions and we hope these meetings will lead to a mutual understanding of how to reconcile the differences we have.
“In particular, we will be looking at the different approaches to assessing future housing and economic development needs in this part of Hertfordshire.”
Cllr Daly gave an update on the meeting with SWHA to the Council’s Cabinet on Thursday 26 January.
For more information about the SLP, please see: http://www.stalbans.gov.uk/planning/Planningpolicy/#slp
Cllr Julian Daly, Leader of St Albans City and District Council and Portfolio Holder for Resources; Chair of the City of Expertise.
Mob: 07775 657200
John McJannet, Principal Communications Officer, St Albans City and District Council. Tel: 01727-296130