Independent Public Examination – The Process
The development of Symondshyde was proposed by Gascoyne Cecil Estates and was included in Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council’s draft Local Plan. The Local Plan will identify which developments will take place in the Borough until 2032. The draft Local Plan was subject to public consultation in 2016. The Save Symondshyde campaign submitted a thorough response, as did a huge number of our supporters.
Despite hundreds of objections, WHBC submitted the Local Plan unchanged for Public Examination. The examination is being conducted by an independent inspector who will determine whether the Plan is ‘sound’ (ie. compliant with national policy). If the Plan is unsound, the inspector may suggest changes or reject the Plan entirely.
The public examination of the Local Plan has now begun. Following our successful fundraising activities over the summer and as a result of our supporters’ generosity, we have been working hard alongside our expert planning consultant to prepare our submissions for the examination.
The hearings are presided over by an independent inspector and began on 21st September. They are split into four stages:
- Stage 1 – Legal Soundness and Duty to Cooperate
- Stage 2 – Overarching Strategy and Associated Policies
- Stages 3 and 4 are still to be clarified, but will concern Topic Specific Policies, Settlement Policies and Site Allocations
Stage 1 was held in September 2017 and was mainly concerned with WHBC’s compliance with the legalities of producing a Local Plan – we observed these sessions with interest!
Stage 2 although not directly concerned with Symondshyde, is still very relevant. Prior to the hearing, the inspector raised some specific (and encouraging!) points about Symondshyde that we had expected to come later in the process. We therefore became fully engaged in Stage 2, which was held in October 2017.