Introduction

In May 2016, a Steering Committee (SC) was set up with volunteers from the village. This followed the proposal from a Parish Councillor that we develop our own Neighbourhood Development Plan (NP). An initial meeting was held with those interested, terms of reference for the SC were agreed, and the task of preparing a NP for Little Hadham was underway.

It was agreed early on that the NP must involve the views of everybody in the village, and like other NP’s, an initial short survey was the best way to do this. Over the next few months we appointed consultants’ and they advised us at our monthly meetings to generate a plan of action.

In October 2016, a flyer was included in the Parish Magazine, which is delivered to every household. This was the questionnaire but it also gave villagers the option of using Survey Monkey (our preferred method). Additional copies of the hard copy were available on request (contact details given) plus copies of the questionnaire were left at the Village Hall.

We made use of the memorable 5th November date as the deadline to complete the survey. We encouraged everybody in each household to complete it, so that we could collect the views of different age ranges. Everybody had up a month to complete their surveys.

The survey asked the following questions –

  • What things do you like most about living in Little Hadham ?
  • What things do you least like about living in Little Hadham ?
  • What do you think should be done to improve Little Hadham ?
  • Are you aware of the draft East Herts District Plan which will shape the future of East Herts (including Little Hadham) to 2031 ?
  • How long have you lived in Little Hadham ?
  • How old are you ?
  • Please tell us roughly where you live ?

By the 5th November we had received 71 responses, which we used to generate 6 main themes. These themes included all the other suggestions made. These themes became the focus of the first public consultation meeting for December.

These themes are –

  • Transport
  • Public spaces
  • Environment / utilities
  • Community
  • By-pass / traffic
  • Housing

First public meeting – Village Hall – Saturday 10th December

The purpose of this first public meeting in December was to –

  • Inform the community of the progress made so far on the NP
  • Raise awareness of the work of the NP
  • Provide feedback to the community on the results of the initial survey undertaken in October / November 2016
  • Invite people to explore and comment on the emerging themes.

We publicised this meeting in the November edition of the Parish Magazine, put up posters in the Parish Noticeboards, erected a sign outside the Village Hall and on the day itself attached a 6 metre banner outside the Hall. We also offered free minced pies and mulled wine to entice more attendance.

Every response and suggestion in each theme was added to large A1 sheets that were displayed, along with maps of the area, and other interesting information about the village. We asked everybody to stick green dots on the sheets by ideas they agreed with and red dots by the ideas they disagreed with. There were also post-it stickers available allowing people to provide and add further comments on each theme.

On the day the session was open from 10am until 5pm. 75 people turned up. These comprised a complete range of age groups and distribution from the various hamlets in the Parish. There were 77 suggestions / improvements from the survey in these 6 themes. The people who came along to the Village Hall engaged with the display and members of the SC. This public meeting confirmed many of the ideas that came out of the survey, and generated many more suggestions, another 28 in all.

Number of responses
Issue Total suggestions Other suggestions Agree –

Green dots

Disagree –

Red dots

Transport 11 3 229 2
Public spaces 13 4 225 26
Environment / utilities 10 2 230 17
Community 17 7 205 3
By- pass / traffic 10 9 198 54
Housing 16 3 187 38

An analysis of the green / red dots showed us that the majority of people did agree with many of the survey responses. It also showed us that with three of these themes, public spaces, by-pass / traffic and housing, there is the need for more debate and consultation during 2017. It also showed to a lesser extent that with environment / utilities, more debate and consultation is needed.

So, what next ? There are a number of tasks to work on with the involvement of villagers –

  • Character Assessment – this is a document that describes the distinct appearance and feel of the area. It records the physical features, the landscape, characteristics and buildings that give a village its distinctiveness and unique identity. During January and February 2017, this is being carried out by members of the SC and other willing volunteers.
  • Site Allocation / Viability and Housing Needs – One of the key aspects of a NP is that it gives the community influence over planning decisions. It has become apparent through the questionnaire and the public meeting that villagers are keen to influence:

– the number, style and location of new homes. Number and style are      relatively easy matters, but consideration needs to be given to whether the      NP allocates sites;

– housing tenure. No single agreed housing ‘need’ has arisen through the          process, albeit opinions are seemingly strong but are not based on evidence.   A specific housing needs survey is therefore an important next step to be             considered.

  • Another public meeting will be held to develop all these ideas further in order to create a ‘Vision’ for Little Hadham and the objectives to achieve this.
  • The draft NP is targeted for the end of 2017.

Generally there will be on-going articles in the Parish Magazine about the SC work, and updates to and from the Parish Council about issues which have been raised to date.

The NP has its own logo and identity, and all articles and published material will clearly use this style guide in order to build instant recognition.