Neighbourhood planning in St Albans

Workshop is part of a 2-year project offering free support to neighbourhood planning groups

26 June 2015

At a sustainable-energy workshop held in St Albans earlier in the month, CSE’s Harriet Sansom and Dan Stone helped two neighbourhood planning groups explore how sustainability issues can be addressed within Neighbourhood Plans.

Around 20 people attended from Colney Health and Sandridge parish councils in Hertfordshire, plus two from the Building Research Establishment and the University of Hertfordshire’s Centre for Sustainable Communities. Colney Heath and Sandridge are in the early stages of preparing Neighbourhood Plans, and the workshop forms part of an ongoing relationship with CSE.

This workshop is part of a 2-year project offering free support to neighbourhood planning groups who want to embed climate change and fuel poverty issues into their neighbourhood plans (details below). 

The workshop kicked off with a discussion of why sustainable energy is a critical issue for communities and, using CSE’s PlanLoCaL model (photo), how renewable energy can be accommodated into the urban and rural landscapes. They also looked how some communities have benefitted from community-led sustainable energy projects.

After lunch, attendees got inspired by looking at what other planning groups have done to integrate sustainability into their neighbourhood plans, e.g. making sustainability and resilience a key theme running through their plan, supporting renewable energy schemes with a strong community benefit, or supporting sustainable transport. The two groups then thought about what the key sustainability issues are for them, and how these could be addressed through their neighbourhood plans. “It has encouraged me to continue to fight for local issues, including sustainable energy. All the information will help in our plan,” said one attendee.

Dan Stone explained why CSE's work with neighbourhood planning groups is so vital. “Neighbourhood planning is a fantastic opportunity for communities to proactively plan to ensure their communities are more resilient – to rising energy prices, extreme weather events, cuts in services and even economic fluctuations.

"The recent changes* to the planning rules – requiring onshore wind sites to be specifically identified in Local or Neighbourhood Plans as a precondition for getting consent – highlights the need for this proactive planning and why it is so important for community energy and transition town groups to get involved in the longer-term project of shaping local and neighbourhood planning policy.

"It will not be possible in the future for such groups to develop onshore wind proposals without taking their wider communities with them,” he added.

* For CSE's response to these changes, announced by Communities Secretary Greg Clark on 18 June, click here.


This workshop is part of a 2-year project offering free support to neighbourhood planning groups who want to embed climate change and fuel poverty issues into their neighbourhood plans If your neighbourhood planning group is interested, then please get in touch with Harriet (harriet.sansom@cse.org.uk | 0117 934 1428) or Dan (dan.stone@cse.org.uk | 0117 934 1469) to find out more.   


Back in 2011 CSE made a series of films about community energy for our PlanLoCaL project, including these two which are relevent here:

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