Preliminary Working Groups Discussions

40 volunteers who live or work in Bengeo Ward attended the interactive session focused on the current status and main themes of Bengeo Neighbourhood Area Plan (BNAP). The meeting organised last Wednesday by BNAP’s interim Steering Group provided an opportunity for the participants to find out more about the Neighbourhood Plan and potential ways of supporting it and getting involved.

Mark Lynch, the Co-Chair of the BNAP Steering Group, opened the meeting by explaining the current status of the BNAP and outlined the process and key stages of creating BNAP. County Cllr Andrew Stevenson, also the Co-chair of the BNAP Steering Group, provided a brief explanation of the structure and the governance of this community-led initiative, which is supported by Hertford Town Council. The designated area of the Hertford Bengeo Ward has now been formally accepted by East Herts District Council.  

At present the interim Community Steering Group includes Chairs of all the existing residents’ associations and other representative groups, including Hertford Civil Society and Councillors. Hertford Town Council have established their own Working Party to monitor progress and assist as appropriate. Membership of the Community Steering Group is open and there is a need to have a balanced representation of the community within the Group.

A Neighbourhood Plan consists of a number of chapters, each of which articulate specific issues of concern to the community, and should respect the District Local Plan for development.

The work of investigating the key issues relevant to the community of the entire Bengeo Ward, which includes Hartham, St. Andrew Street, Folly Island, and Great Molewood, will be carried out by thematic Working Groups. These Working Groups will develop potential proposals, based on gathered information and collated evidence. Chairmen/Leaders of Working Groups will also represent them in the Community Steering Group.

Additionally, central Communications and Management Group holds the responsibility for overseeing the whole BNAP process, coordinating and supporting inputs, and communicating internally and externally on the progress and next steps of BNAP.

The discussions on Wednesday focused on establishing the main issues and areas for BNAP. Aska Pickering, interim Chair of Communications and Management Group explained that a draft proposal of the BNAP constitution and terms of reference will be prepared for discussion at the Steering Group’s meeting on 9th August. The proposal will be based on the discussions and feedback received to date, as well as the discussions at the meeting. Comments and suggestions are welcome from all. It is envisaged that the BNAP teams will have to be flexible and responsive to evolving new ideas.

After interactive introductions of all participants, the discussions moved on to the key issues and ideas that the local residents and businesses believed to be most important to be addressed to shape future Bengeo. More detailed notes capturing thematic areas will be shared shortly.

Cllr Steve Cousins shared his experiences to date from leading Sele Neighbourhood Area Plan. Also present were Cllr Peter Ruffles and Cllr Mari Stevenson who joined the discussions on the main themes. Feedback was also shared from the initial online survey as well as the community meeting in June.

Four main themes for Working Groups have emerged from the activities and discussions. These were: 1) culture, leisure and community, 2) environment and green spaces, 3) homes and development, and 4) transport and traffic (including cycle lanes and parking). These themes echoed the results of the initial online feedback and the comments at the community meeting on 24th June. However, during the discussions it was suggested that another potential should be businesses and enterprise. It was also suggested that culture, leisure and community covered too wide an area and should be split into two or that leisure could become part of environment group. All these themes are subject to further discussions, and will be proposed at the next BNAP Steering Group meeting.

We are now calling for volunteers who would like to be involved in any of the suggested Working Groups or who have ideas for other working groups as well as those who would like to be considered for the Community Steering Group.  Please let us know if you would like to be invited to next meetings in September. In the meantime we can send you further information.