Conservation in the county

Bird spotting

Eurasian dotterel (Charadrius morinellus) Photo: Natural England/Allan Drewitt

Richard Genochio, of the Therfield & Kelshall Natural History Society, writes:
Therfield has been privileged by the arrival [on 26 April 2017 – and still present by the beginning of May] of two pairs of dotterels on John King’s field to the right of the ridge path.  These beautiful small plovers traditionally move through the chalk hills of south Cambs and north Herts at this time of the year, but very few are reported and I have never seen one on the fields around here. They fly on to their upland breeding grounds in Scotland and Scandinavia. The female is the stunner – she has a warm brick-red breast, with a white crescent stripe over it, and a striking white eyebrow stripe. The males are relatively drab. This is because the dotterel is one of the unusual species the male of which sits on the nest to incubate the eggs. (The phalarope is another example.)
On the field just beyond, there was a pair of wheatears. A merlin also dashed past.
A resident in Therfield also reported seeing six swallows on 30 April. The birds were preparing nests in a barn. Also seen was the rare yellow hammer.

Ragwort – not on my land?


Unnecessary overreaction to ragwort causes ecological damage by encouraging agricultural intensification and unnecessary destruction of other ecological resources.

An FoE briefing also suggests we act on facts [not myths] and grasp the nettle, not the ragwort. It explains how blaming ragwort for various ills is a distraction and waste of public money.

CPRE Herts Rural Living Awards
Ver Valley Society Action Group, winners of 2016 CPRE Rural Environment Award

The awards celebrate efforts made by groups, individuals or businesses to improve life in their community and enhance the environment in Hertfordshire’s villages and countryside. Anyone interested in the future of rural living in Hertfordshire can make a nomination or be nominated.

Closing date: Friday 26 May

CPRE Hertfordshire, 31a Church Street, Welwyn, Herts AL6 9LW Email: Tel: 01438 717587


Sandon Bio Survey


On Saturday 3 September 2016 Sandon Conservation Group/HERC launched the bio survey outside Sandon village hall (Herts SG9). A meteorological challenge on the day but a minor soggy glitch that did not drive away our most important customers – the wildlife on our doorstep.

This project asked Sandon residents to record local wildlife over a fortnight in September 2016 using a form drawn up by the Herts Environmental Records Centre. The animals named for identifying were indicator species, informing the centre scientists, to a certain degree, about the state of the environment and health of habitats.

This survey was a project with few scientific pretensions beyond what HERC could make of the findings. Controls, limiting the survey to a particular day or hour, expert guidance on the ground, ID checks, grid surveillance methods – all missing!

But the value is this: we gained a snapshot of home, a very localised area with its wildlife. The survey can provide a focus, a talking point and maybe the basis for environmental action, for all who are interested. (And HERC wants your recordings.)

For authoritative records on species in Hertfordshire consult:

Survey summary


All species HERC listed were recorded in Sandon this September. The birds seen ranged from the most common here – blackbirds, wood pigeons, blue tits – to our “speciality”, red kites, buzzards, woodpeckers and kestrels.

There were sightings of once common species these days declining in number or distribution – house sparrows and starlings. And several people added to the list, recording barn owls and little owls. Migrants, still here early autumn, included swallows and house martins.

Both the mistle and song thrushes got entries, as did the wren and treecreeper. A Roe Green household triumphed with the sparrow-sized and hard to identify chiffchaff.

Five people recorded seeing a sparrowhawk, and three saw a yellow hammer (Emberiza citrinella). Yellowhammer numbers have dropped a lot in recent decades, a decline attributed to agricultural and land management practices, like hedgerow damage and removal, and use of pesticides. The bird is classified in the UK as a Red List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review, and as a priority species in the Biodiversity Action Plan of the UK.

Besides the oddity of a wandering grey heron (perhaps seeking out a second home), the recordings included that of a fledgling turtle dove. If correctly identified that is a find: the Breeding Bird Survey report highlights a 93% decline in its population since 1994 and it is also a Red-List species in the UK.


Fox asleep -1284512_1920

All the mammal species listed in the survey were seen in or very near Sandon. So on our doorstep we have badgers, bats, shrews, bank voles, grey squirrels, moles, rabbits, foxes, hedgehogs, wood mice, brown rats,  stoats, and the house mouse.

Bat species, when identified, were listed as pipistrelles, and some people reported their flights around gardens. Badgers were sometimes acknowledged through just their setts; they are difficult to see, of course, unless spotted trotting along a road late at night or popping up in the woods as you lie in wait for them.

The survey results compiler reports seeing a weasel on a couple of occasions – one darting across the road near Roe Green, and another peering out of a roadside bank. These were months apart.

We have sightings of moles. In one report this referred to dead moles presented by the cat to the kitchen table; three were retrieved in quick succession, in dry weather, so poisoning by people is the probable explanation.

Respondents also listed other mammals not on the survey – these were hares and deer, including roe, fallow, and muntjac. The latter, an evolutionary curiosity thought to have been around up to 35 million years ago, was introduced to Britain in the 19th century. Given the biological heritage, this small barking creature, whose fossil bones have been unearthed in later Miocene deposits on the continent, might – like our reintroduced fallow deer – be a bit of an old-timer here after all. Britain, say geologists, lost its land link to Europe only about 8,000 years ago when England’s southern marshes transformed into the Channel following a tsunami.



Of the survey butterflies listed only the ringlet and small copper were not seen. Again, we bear in mind that chance encounters with all the rest don’t rule out those two just happening not to hove into view.

So ticked off was: the comma, large white, meadow brown, orange-tip, painted lady, peacock, red admiral, small tortoiseshell, small white, green-veined white, common blue, gatekeeper, silver-washed fritillary.

There were additional sightings of speckled woods, and grizzled skippers.



Of the eight in the survey, residents “returned” one: the common blue damselfly. Two other people saw a dragonfly but could not identify it. Also, this survey’s results compiler saw a brown hawker (not on the list).



Five respondents ticked off the hummingbird hawk moth – Macroglossum stellatarum – the only indicator species listed in the survey. Another biological masterpiece, this nifty moth is a great example of convergent evolution sporting feather-like hairs and hovering in front of flowers just like the hummingbird. It has intriguing eyes, too, set not for nocturnal or crepuscular forays, but for bright daylight.



In the reptile corner, with a pair of possible creatures – just one sighting, and that was of a common lizard. A survey done in May might have produced more sightings – and perhaps, further afield, Royston heath is providing the best habitat for the declining Zootoca vivipara.  (

Bees and wasps


Common wasps and honeybees and bumblebees had several entries in the Sandon bio survey. The buff-tailed bumblebee was also spotted, once. That left the white-tailed bumblebee unremarked.



The survey listed seven possibilities and those ticked off included the 7-spot, 2-spot and cream spot. Quite a hard task determining who’s who in the ladybird world. Proving elusive were the 14-spot, Adonis, and even the harlequin. There are thought to be 46 ladybird species in the UK. But, as the Harlequin Ladybird Survey says, the harlequin can take on many a different guise, sometimes resembling the native ladybirds – though the former seem to excel in blotch-loading, wearing more than 20 spots in some cases.



Four animals listed in the survey, and all four were spotted. The common frog and common toad were seen in local gardens, and a smooth newt in one of the more well-vegetated gardens offering a diversity of micro-habitats.

And great crested newts were discovered on Roe Green – a species classified as endangered under European law and wholly protected, including against damage to, or destruction of, their breeding or resting places, and against obstruction to the access to their resting or sheltering places (either deliberately or by not taking enough care). The government warns against impacts on the newts arising from – among other things – removing dense vegetation, excavating ground, destroying water bodies. The species is now the most threatened species of newt, globally, in the west of Europe.

But – the EU habitats directive, which, besides UK law, protects these amphibians, could now be repealed to aid builders and their profits.

Natural England reckons the “new approach” is an improvement. It says that as part of the project, great crested newt habitat [will be] enhanced or created prior to any development taking place, saving developers time and money, and making newt populations “more healthy and resilient”.

Find out more, by starting here:


Photograph: HARG

ARG Hertfordshire Amphibian and Reptile Group
A group set up to involve the public in the conservation and recording of reptiles and amphibians

Badger Group, Herts & Middlesex
A voluntary organisation dedicated to all aspects of badgers in Hertfordshire and Middlesex

Badger Trust (Facebook)

Photograph: Pixabay

Bat Group, Hertfordshire & Middlesex
Working to further bat conservation. Provides advice and information for the public

Bird Club, Herts
Promotes study and recording of birds in the county and encourages interest in natural history including conservation of wildlife habitats. It has been studying and documenting Hertfordshire’s bird life for more than 130 years

Blagrove Common, Sandon – Herts Wildife Trust

Photograph: Wild orchids, Blagrove Common, Sandon/HMWT

Butterfly Conservation, Herts & Middlesex branch

Conservation Volunteers, Hertfordshire 
A roving conservation group working with local conservation and friends’ groups offering expertise to projects. Includes Chiltern Society Planning Group

County Recorders -Hertfordshire, species experts

Environmental Records Centre, Herts

Photo: Pixabay

Flora Group, Herts – part of HNHS

Friends of Baldock Greenspaces
Contact: Phil Charsley:

Friends of the Earth, North Herts

Fungus Group, Hertfordshire

Hawkins Wood, south of Therfield

Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust

Natural History Society, Hertfordshire

Exploring abroad Photo: Pixabay

North Herts Council – Wildflowers and bees

Royston Wildlife – blog by leader of RSPB Hitchin & Letchworth

RSPB Hitchin & Letchworth

Weston Hills local nature reserve



Climate change


Why it’s so serious, why we all count, why it’s your gig too

It’s local, it’s global and it can’t be denied. What we do individually adds up to a whole and the impact of sitting back and being content to skim below the 2C global temperature rise level is, and will continue to be, enormous and dangerous.
Is there a case for individuals to cut their carbon footprint?

See the article below; after the climate scientists give the low-down on the likely missed ceiling temperature target and likely irreversible environmental domino effects, there is some solid advice for rapid action.


woodland- free

A charter for trees, woods and people

Over the next two years the Woodland Trust, with more than 40 other conservation, environmental, business and social organisations, will call on the general public to join them and build the Charter for Trees, Woods and People.

Their ambition is to put trees back at the heart of our lives and communities and decision-making – where they belong. The charter will be rooted in stories, memories, feelings and principles that show how trees have shaped our society, landscape and lives. It is hoped it will help us to recognise the importance of trees in our society, to celebrate their enormous contribution to our lives, and act so that future generations can benefit too. (Guardian website 15/01/16)

Earth Day 2017 – 22 April

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Earth Day this year was on 22 April. The theme was Environmental & Climate Literacy.
As the organisers said: “We need to build a global citizenry fluent in the concepts of climate change.” 
The Earth Day network works with more than 50,000 partners in 196 countries to create environmental democracy.
They say: “Let’s plant 7.8 billion trees for the earth. Let’s divest from fossil fuels and make cities 100% renewable.”
We say: “What can we do locally? What did you do?
Tell us about it.”


Save Rural Baldock

Stevenage expansion – wildlife


RSPB – Slowing floodwater/blog

Campaign to Protect Rural England

North Herts Friends of the Earth


Town & Country Planning Association

Local bus petition – Sandon etc (now submitted to Herts County Council)

38 Degrees campaigns

The Guardian’s petitionKeep it in the ground

Environmental Justice Foundation

League Against Cruel Sports

Campaigns peacefully against all forms of animal abuse and promotes cruelty-free living. Investigates and exposes animal cruelty, brought to public attention in the media



On this page: Hertford developments; North Herts District Council; planners’ details; housing plans; gov planning portal; Sandon parish council; comment; NPPF; local planning case; National Infrastructure Commission; North Herts planning advice

North Herts Local Plan

Submission 2011-2013. North Herts District Council published the Local Plan draft on 18 October. The Local Plan, proposals map and supporting evidence can be seen at Also at the council offices, the district’s libraries and at Stevenage Central, Stevenage Old Town and Luton Central libraries.

New Sandon county councillor

Steve Jarvis, who is Sandon’s district councillor, was elected as county councillor for Roston West and Rural on 4 May 2017. The Liberal Democrat gained 62 more votes than the previous county councillor, Tony Hunter, a Conservative.

Sandon Conservation Group – comment sent to NHDC

Although there are no sites currently allocated for development within Sandon, we are concerned that as Sandon is a Class A village, general development will be allowed within the settlement boundary and this could lead to a densely populated village with very little green space if developers choose to build houses there. Traditionally the village has had well-spaced houses with large gardens and plenty of green space. Within the settlement boundary there are currently approximately 80 houses and within the past few years there have been at least 9 new houses built as infill, taking up parts of gardens or green space. There are plans to build another 4 that we are aware of. So we have already have had something like a 20% increase in the number of houses within the settlement area over the past few years.  We believe that allowing further general development within the settlement would change the character of the village significantly and have a major impact on the infrastructure. Given that Sandon is very small, has so few facilities and only appears to fall into Category A because it has a school rather than a pub such as Rushden we do feel that either Sandon should be reclassified as Category B or provided with some protection from general development such as a restriction on the overall number of new buildings that can be built within the settlement boundaries and within the parish.

There used to be an Excepted Villages policy which controlled development in Sandon, Ashwell, Therfield and possibly all the Class A villages but that has been removed and the only policy that applies to Sandon is SP2, Selected Hierarchy. Rushden and Wallington still have some protection under the policy CGB1, Rural Areas Beyond the Green Belt, as does Roe Green. However, Roe Green will also be affected by the policy CGB2 Exception Sites in Rural Areas, which potentially allows some development for those areas bordering a Class A village. Policy SP2 states “general development will also be allowed within the defined settlement boundaries of the Category A villages”. The defined boundary for Sandon is essentially the village centre; there is a map in the supporting documentation to the plan which shows it.

Sandon Action Group

This spring some residents of Sandon created a group concerned with proposed developments at Sandon Bury Farm in the village. They are issuing weekly updates.

To contact SAG email:

Mike Ayton & Pete Laskey, co-chairs, SAG

North Herts local plan – The Comet

Groups campaigning to preserve green belt around Baldock and Letchworth reacted with dismay to the approval of the North Herts draft local plan on 22 July, reports The Comet.

The plan calls for up to 14,600 new homes, including more than 3,500 on green belt around Baldock.

Anthony Burrows, acting chair of Save the World’s First Garden City, said the group was totally opposed to any building on green belt land anywhere in North Herts. “If you finally vote to allow building massively on our green belt, any inspector is entitled to assume that you have no objection in principle to building on it,” he told councillors before the vote. “Can any councillor tell us where there is any development in your plan which is not the urban sprawl which for decades has been considered the very opposite of good planning? Moving or increasing the amount of green belt so that the sprawl can be constructed is cynical.”

St Albans blocks property build on green belt  – Herts Advertiser

District council blocks effort by housebuilders, including Taylor Wimpey North Thames and Harrow Estates, to use former airfield for 2,000 houses – using the draft strategic local plan, which proposes retaining the site as green belt.

NHDC Local plan background papers


Hertford housing developments

Residents feel the pressure

North Herts Local Plan

North Herts published this timetable

Location Options

Preferred Options Consultation December 2014 – January 2015

Consideration of comments February 2015 – July 2016

Proposed Submission Consultation August – October 2016

Consideration of comments October 2016 – February 2017

Formal Submission to Secretary of State – March 2017

Pre-examination meeting – May 2017

Independent examination – August 2017

Inspector’s report December – 2017

Adoption – March 2018

Sandon & Weston ward

North Herts Council considering extra 3,000 houses in local plan? Councillor Steve Jarvis writes: “The first they plan to tell anyone is when the next draft of the plan is published in July – shortly before the council is asked to approve it.”

CPRE Hertfordshire’s response to local plan

Honorary Director of CPRE Hertfordshire, Kevin FitzGerald, said: “By pressing ahead with proposals to meet all of the estimated district’s housing demand, plus overspill from Luton and Stevenage, the Council would destroy decades of work to protect the District’s countryside. The proposed Housing Target of over 14,000 will result in permanent and unnecessary loss of huge areas of countryside.”

NHDC planners liberated 

The authority no longer gives public access to the planners list on the NHDC website. But you can see who looks after your area here, on the Sandon Conservation website.

Probity in Planning
A paragraph from a Local Government Association guidance note.
“Planning decisions are not based on an exact science. Rather, they rely on informed judgement within a firm policy context. Decisions can be highly controversial as they affect the daily lives of everyone. This is heightened by the openness of the system (it actually invites public opinion before taking decisions) and the legal nature of the development plan and decision notices. It is important, therefore, that the process is characterised by open and transparent decision-making.”

Photo: Tuomas Lehtinen

North Hertfordshire District Council planning

East team

Covers Letchworth Garden City, Baldock, Royston and parishes of Ashwell, Barkway, Barley, Bygrave, Caldecote, Clothall, Hinxworth, Kelshall, Newnham, Nuthampstead, Radwell, Reed, Rushden, Sandon, Therfield, Wallington, Weston.

West team
Covers Hitchin and parishes of Codicote, Graveley, Hexton, Holwell, Ickleford, Kimpton, Kings Walden, Knebworth, Langley, Lilley, Offley (with Cockernhoe), Pirton, Preston, St Ippolyts, St Paul’s Walden, Wymondley

Simon Ellis Development and Conservation Manager
John Chapman Area Planning Officer for East and West teams

East team
Richard Tiffin Area Planning Officer for Sandon, Royston, surrounding rural area
Jo Cousins  Senior Planning Officer
Anne McDonald Senior Planning Officer
Kirstie Hough Senior Planning Officer
Naomi Reynard  Senior Planning Officer
Melissa Tyler  Planning Officer

West team
Tom Rea Area Planning Officer for Hitchin, St Ippolyts, Ickleford
Kate Poyser Senior Planning Officer (part time)
James Gran Senior Planning Officer
Tom Donovan Planning Officer
Maria Viciana Planning Officer

MP for North East Herts, Sir Oliver Heald – on neighbourhood plans

North Herts Council – agendas, minutes, meetings

N Herts District Council members

Turf roof
Turf roof in Iceland Photo: Pixabay
Government planning portal

Sandon Parish Council
Most recent SPC meeting 10 May 2017.
Unconfirmed dates for SPC meetings: Wednesday 12 July, Wednesday 13 September, Wednesday 15 November.


Current councillors:
Fiona Margaret Cannon, Olivers , Hyde Hall Farm, Sandon, Buntingford, SG9 9 0RU
Keith Charles Chamberlain, 4 Dark Lane, Sandon, Buntingford, Hertfordshire, SG9 0QT
James Sebastian De Uphaugh, Danyells, Sandon, Buntingford
Hilary Gallo, The Anchor, Roe Green, Sandon, SG9 0QE
Jayne Wharton, Micklefield, Payne End, Sandon, Buntingford, Herts, SG9 0QU
Bridget Helen Ruth Wheeler, Walnut Farm, Green End, Sandon, Hertfordshire, SG9 0RL

What’s up for the hood?

UK local authorities and housing targets. A report by the Campaign to Protect Rural England on inaccuracies

Selling off public land

A Telegraph article that in September 2015 told of the government move to cast off public land

The National Planning Policy Framework

Start here to get a grip on what it’s all about and see the guidance for planning law covering England.

The Ecologist: The Land Alliance and The Land magazine look at inequality in the countryside

An extract from the Rural Manifesto, launched 6 January 2016 at the Oxford Real Farming conference

Ramblers – countryside protection and development–north-middlesex/5-protecting-our-countryside.aspx

A planning case: Fulbourn Forum for Community Action

Good News! Refusal of planning permission – Land at Teversham Road, Fulbourn

Which is this:

Fulbourn Forum for community action  Sent 13 August 2015

Re: Outline Application for development of up to 110 dwellings on land at Teversham Road, Fulbourn by Castlefield International (a subsidiary of Hong Kong based Hutchison Whampoa – one of the largest companies on the Hong Kong stock exchange)

Application Ref: S/2273/14/OL

Good news! The above application was unanimously rejected at the South Cambs planning meeting on 5 August, on the advice of the planning officer and after lengthy and in-depth consideration of the issues by the committee. This highly unsuitable development and opportunistic attempt to circumvent local policy was roundly derided – “an unbelievably bad application”; “no-one in their right mind” would consider the proposals suitable for young families; “speculative development of the very worst kind”; the whole proposal was “unsustainable”.

The reasons for refusal include that “the collective adverse impact of the development on the landscape character, setting of Fulbourn Conservation Area, village character and ecological interests results in demonstrable and significant harm which, on balance, outweighs the benefits which arise from delivering…dwellings…….” In addition, the proposed designation of a Local Green Space in the emerging Local Plan, and the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) guidance to protect such sites from development unless there are very special circumstances, was given notable weight due to the site’s close proximity to the community of Fulbourn, and the “demonstrable special significance arising from its beauty, recreational value, tranquility and richness of wildlife.” It was determined that no “very special circumstances” had been demonstrated. And finally, it was considered that the applicant had not demonstrated that the technically difficult, wet site, still only of an outline nature, could deliver new houses within five years, a requirement of the NPPF.

There are many other good reasons why this proposed development should not proceed but we are aware that the District Council has had to be mindful of the current planning hiatus around the Local Plan Examination and any reasons for refusal must have sound basis in both local and national policies.

The full decision notice is attached to this email.

Representatives of Fulbourn Forum, the Save Fulbourn’s Fields campaign, the Parish Council and our two District Councillors all spoke at the planning meeting against the application. Those attending the meeting have commented upon the ‘arrogance’ shown by the applicant’s agents who claimed, amongst other things, that the ecology was not a limiting factor as the site “could be ploughed tomorrow”, there were “limited public views into the site”, and that local residents using the site were guilty of “trespass”. Cllr John Williams told the applicant that they should not appeal as it would be a “waste of public money”, and the the right thing to do would be to offer the site to the local community. 

Castlefield International have six months in which to appeal, if they so wish. We await their decision, but feel that the robust reasons for refusal and the unanimous verdict give cautious optimism that an appeal may not be successful.

Meanwhile, we have reason to celebrate an important victory. It has now been formally confirmed that the urbanisation of this site is not acceptable partly due to its rich ecology which has enormous potential to be protected and enhanced, as has been confirmed by the Wildlife Trust in their submission to the Council. The response by the village to the threat posed by this application has been an important factor in highlighting that the site is demonstrably special to the local community and holds a particular local significance. So thank you to everyone who wrote to South Cambs or supported the actions of the Parish Council, the Save Fulbourn’s Fields campaign and Fulbourn Forum in any way. It really does make a huge difference.

David Cottee, on behalf of Fulbourn Forum for community action,/ www.fulbournforum.or

Planning or non planning?

Here’s a redevelopment scenario (courtesy of the Guardian)

The National Infrastructure Commission

A national consensus on infrastructure? This is a new body, set up October 2015, which could link large-scale transport schemes, like HS2 rail, to housing

Planning advice – North Herts

Change of use and permitted development

From 30 May 2013, a number of changes have also taken place in respect of the Use Class Order and permitted changes for new and extending business premises, as well as agricultural buildings and schools. In summary these additional changes from 30 May 2013 are required to follow a “prior notification” process and in brief include

    • Agricultural buildings under 500 square metres can change to a number of other uses (A1, A2, A3, B1, B8, C1 and D2). For buildings between 150 square metres and 500 square metres, subject to prior approval covering flooding, highways and transport impacts, and noise is required.
    • Premises in B1, C1, C2, C2A and D2 use classes can change use permanently to a state-funded school, subject to prior approval covering highways and transport impacts and noise.
    • Premises in B1(a) office use can change to C3 residential use, subject to prior approval covering flooding, highways and transport issues and contamination.
    • Buildings with A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, B1, D1 and D2 uses will be permitted to change use for a single period of up to two years to A1, A2, A3 and B1 uses.
    • A1 Shops – Shops, retail warehouses, hairdressers, undertakers, travel and ticket agencies, post offices, pet shops, sandwich bars, showrooms, domestic hire shops, dry cleaners, funeral directors and internet cafes.
    • A2 Financial and professional services – Financial services such as banks and building societies, professional services (other than health and medical services) and including estate and employment agencies. It does not include betting offices or pay day loan shops – these are now classed as “sui generis” uses (see below).
    • A3 Restaurants and cafés – For the sale of food and drink for consumption on the premises – restaurants, snack bars and cafes.
    • A4 Drinking establishments – Public houses, wine bars or other drinking establishments (but not night clubs).
    • A5 Hot food takeaways – For the sale of hot food for consumption off the premises.
    • B1 Business – Offices (other than those that fall within A2), research and development of products and processes, light industry appropriate in a residential area.
    • B2 General industrial – Use for industrial process other than one falling within class B1 (excluding incineration purposes, chemical treatment or landfill or hazardous waste).
    • B8 Storage or distribution – This class includes open air storage.
    • C1 Hotels – Hotels, boarding and guest houses where no significant element of care is provided (excludes hostels).
    • C2 Residential institutions – Residential care homes, hospitals, nursing homes, boarding schools, residential colleges and training centres.
    • C2A Secure Residential Institution – Use for a provision of secure residential accommodation, including use as a prison, young offenders institution, detention centre, secure training centre, custody centre, short term holding centre, secure hospital, secure local authority accommodation or use as a military barracks.
    • C3 Dwellinghouses – this class is formed of 3 parts:
      • C3(a) covers use by a single person or a family (a couple whether married or not, a person related to one another with members of the family of one of the couple to be treated as members of the family of the other), an employer and certain domestic employees (such as an au pair, nanny, nurse, governess, servant, chauffeur, gardener, secretary and personal assistant), a carer and the person receiving the care and a foster parent and foster child.
      • C3(b): up to six people living together as a single household and receiving care e.g. supported housing schemes such as those for people with learning disabilities or mental health problems.
      • C3(c) allows for groups of people (up to six) living together as a single household. This allows for those groupings that do not fall within the C4 HMO definition, but which fell within the previous C3 use class, to be provided for i.e. a small religious community may fall into this section as could a homeowner who is living with a lodger.
    • C4 Houses in multiple occupation – small shared houses occupied by between three and six unrelated individuals, as their only or main residence, who share basic amenities such as a kitchen or bathroom.
    • D1 Non-residential institutions – Clinics, health centres, crèches, day nurseries, day centres, schools, art galleries (other than for sale or hire), museums, libraries, halls, places of worship, church halls, law court. Non residential education and training centres.
    • D2 Assembly and leisure – Cinemas, music and concert halls, bingo and dance halls (but not night clubs), swimming baths, skating rinks, gymnasiums or area for indoor or outdoor sports and recreations (except for motor sports, or where firearms are used).
    • Sui Generis – Certain uses do not fall within any use class and are considered ‘sui generis’. Such uses include: betting offices/shops, pay day loan shops, theatres, houses in multiple occupation, hostels providing no significant element of care, scrap yards. Petrol filling stations and shops selling and/or displaying motor vehicles. Retail warehouse clubs, nightclubs, launderettes, taxi businesses, amusement centres and casinos.
    • Thresholds for business change of use increased from 235 square metres to 500 square metres for permitted development for change of use from B1 or B2 to B8 and from B2 or B8 to B.
  • ———————————————————

Local Development

Policy 6: Rural Areas beyond the Green Belt
In Rural Areas beyond the Green Belt, the Council will maintain the existing countryside and villages and, and their character.  Except in Selected Villages (Policy 7), a development proposal will normally be allowed only if:

  • it is strictly necessary for the needs of agriculture, forestry or any proven need for local community services, provided that: the need cannot practicably be met within a town, excluded village or selected village, and the proposal positively improves the rural environment; or
  • it would meet an identified rural housing need, in compliance with Policy 29; or
  • it is a single dwelling on a small plot located within the built core of the settlement which will not result in outward expansion of the settlement or have any other adverse impact on the local environment or other policy aims within the Rural Areas; or
  • it involves a change to the rural economy in terms of Policy 24 or Policy 25.

Policy 7: Selected Villages beyond the Green Belt
In Selected Villages within the Rural Area beyond the Green Belt, the Council will normally permit development proposals if:

  • the site lies within the main area of the village as shown on the Insets of the Proposals Map; and
  • the proposal is in line with the Policy Aims for Visual Character Areas (as set out in part 5 under the relevant Parish), or involves retaining and improving an existing building which contributes to the character or visual quality of the village; and
  • the proposal would maintain or enhance the character or visual quality of the village or the surrounding area; within a Conservation Area, the positive preservation or enhancement of its character will be expected (Policy 20).

The ‘Selected Villages’ are: Ashwell, Barkway, Barley, Great Offley, Holwell, Pirton, Sandon (Church End), Therfield and Whitwell.  Outside the defined areas of Selected Villages, the Council will not normally grant planning permission for development proposals unless the exceptions of Policy 6 apply.


V1    Church End Green
Scattered buildings are surrounded by open spaces of greens, large gardens, cemetery and roads should be retained as essential to village character.

V2    Southern Edge
Village entrance to remain undeveloped and integrated with rural landscape.

Policy 14: Nature Conservation
For Local Nature Reserves, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Nature Reserves of the Hertfordshire and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, and sites of local Wildlife Significance, the Council will preserve their wildlife importance by not normally granting planning permission for development proposals in these sites, or which may harm their value, and will seek their continued management for nature conservation. For sites of Wildlife Value, the Council will not normally grant planning permission for development proposals which do not take account of and encourage the potential nature conservation value of the site.

Elsewhere, or when a development proposal is acceptable, the Council will expect development proposals to take account of, and where possible, to show improvements to the nature conservation value of the site and its surroundings.  In addition, the Council may require the preparation and implementation of a management scheme to maintain or enhance the site’s nature conservation value.

Policy 25: Re-use of Rural Buildings

  • The re-use of rural buildings for commercial, industrial, or recreational purposes will be permitted provided that: the form, bulk and general design of the building are in keeping with its surroundings; the building has not become so derelict that it could be brought back into use only be complete or substantial reconstruction; the new use will not have an adverse effect on the environment or on highway safety.
  • The re-use of rural buildings for residential purposes will be permitted provided that:  there will be no adverse effect on the local rural economy; the building will not require extensive alteration, rebuilding and/or extension; the use of the building and its curtilage will not harm the character of the countryside, or have an adverse effect on highway safety.
  • The re-use of buildings in the Green Belt which are of permanent and substantial construction will be permitted where the above criteria are met and provided that the new use does not have a materially greater impact than the present use on the openness of the Green Belt and the purposes of including land in it.

Policy 28: House Extensions

For house extensions, the Council will normally only permit development proposals if:

  1. the extension is sympathetic to the existing house in height, form, proportions, window details and materials; and
  2. pitched roofs are used where appropriate, particularly if the extension is more than the height of a single storey.

Rear extensions should not dominate adjoining property and should be well related to the levels of adjoining properties, the direction the house faces, and the distance between the extension and the windows in the next door properties.  For extensions less than 3 metres from the rear main wall of the existing house, the Council will normally permit development. Side extensions adjoining a residential plot to the side will normally be refused if, at first-floor level or above, less than 1 metre from the boundary. The Council will normally refuse proposals for extensions which would result in a deficiency or worsen an existing deficiency, of off-street car parking spaces based upon standards in Policy 55.

Policy 29: Rural Housing Needs

For local rural housing needs, the Council may permit specific development proposals for special small-scale housing needs designed to meet a proven local need as an exception to its normal policies in the Green Belt (Policy 2) and the Rural Areas beyond the Green Belt (Policy 6) outside Selected Villages (Policy 7) but only if:

  • the proposal is expressly designed to meet a specific and proven local need;
  • the need cannot be met in any other way;
  • the occupation will be limited to certain people, who immediately prior to allocation were: first time buyers; or retired or disabled people who have lived or worked in the areas specified in (iv) for at least one year; or households living in sub-standard accommodation; or households not having separate accommodation; or persons on or eligible to be on the Council’s Housing Waiting List; or immediate descendants of presently resident persons who have themselves been a resident in the area specified (iv) for the past year; or in permanent employment in the area specified in (iv) or have the offer in writing of a job in that area which will be accepted if a unit of accommodation is offered;
  • future occupants come from the local area which includes (a) the identified parish; and (b) the immediately adjoining parishes;
  • the proposal will in the long term succeed financially in providing for local housing needs;
  • the housing will be managed so as to prevent any part of it becoming available on the general housing market;
  • the proposal is visually sympathetic to the existing character of the settlement to which it will relate and, in the view of the Local Planning Authority, does not detract from that character or the landscape around;
  • the aims of this policy have been secured in a binding legal agreement; and
  • where the proposal is in the Green Belt it is located within an existing settlement and is consistent with the function and purposes of the Green Belt.

Housing proposals which only offer an initial discounted purchase price will not normally be considered as conforming with this policy. Policy 30: Replacement or Extension of Dwellings in the Countryside.

For existing dwellings anywhere in the countryside outside excluded or selected villages, the Council will normally refuse proposals for their replacement or extension if a materially greater impact would result.  A landscaping scheme related to the surrounding will be expected.  Also extensions will normally be refused if they result in a size, scale and design out of keeping with the original building and give the effect of a new dwelling.



Man viewing the solar eclipse

North Herts District Council

NHDC Planning Office

Sandon Parish Council

Save Rural Baldock

Save Rural Knebworth

North Herts District councillors

Royston Crow – Royston mass housing plan

Campaign to Protect Rural England – Herts group


Redlist Revivalcharity working to restore red-listed species, UK Biodiversity Action Plan

Pesticide Action Network UK

Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland

National Wildlife Crime Unit – a vital service now losing its funding. Sign the petition to help secure the long-term future of the unit

Wildlife crime – report it

Wildlife persecution – police action

Hare coursing – illegal in the UK since 2005

Hedgehogs – Bedfordshire

Badger Trust!news/e2g21

Stop the Cull

Cambridgeshire Mammal Group

Bedfordshire Wildlife Rescue – hedgehogs

Animal Aid

Peta – pig farms exposed

Nuisance in the Neighbourhood; irritations, anti-social stuff and more

Courtesy of Save Rural Baldock

WWF’s climate change explainer

Climate and human migration – some views

AFP press article: “2015 a ‘tipping point’ for climate change: experts”
The Green Party says:
♦ International Organization for Migration
♦ Human displacement – Refugees Studies Centre, Oxford University