Councillors have made a decision on the next steps of a process that will set out the future of development in Hertsmere over the next 15 years.

Earlier this year, Hertsmere Borough Council announced it had "shelved" its draft local plan after nearly 18,000 comments flooded in - many of which objected to the threat to green belt to meet housing targets.

However, local authorities up and down country are legally obliged to draw up local plans by Government and Hertsmere is no exception.

At a full council meeting on April 27, councillors were asked to vote on the next step of the local plan process which has already cost the council £855,000.

The options were to continue to work on the current version of the plan; to set aside the current version of the draft plan, but continue the plan-making process; or lastly, to cease all work on the new plan and rely on the existing adopted local plan, which will become increasingly out-of-date.

Borehamwood Times: Areas in light blue showed how existing settlements, in dark blue, could be expanded by homes and employment space in the draft local plan which went out for public consultation in 2021. Credit: Hertsmere Borough CouncilAreas in light blue showed how existing settlements, in dark blue, could be expanded by homes and employment space in the draft local plan which went out for public consultation in 2021. Credit: Hertsmere Borough Council

Councillors unanimously voted to proceed with the second option. It will be funded with £515,000 from the council's New Homes Bonus reserves.

Cllr Dr Harvey Cohen, responsible for planning said: "By opting for this next step, we are resolving to put aside the current version of our plan, but continue the plan-making process, while taking into account any planning reforms announced by the government.

"It shows we are committed to doing all we can to positively shape growth in the borough and ensure local people can have a say on where they want development to happen, and how much."

Cllr Cohen warned there will be a "risk of speculative applications for development coming forward".

His comments came after Stephen Balsam, from campaign group Save Radlett said Hertsmere residents should be "worried" after new documents submitted to the council indicated a developer's interest for 195 homes on land in Radlett that had been in the draft local plan. A similar application has gone in on land in Shenley.

Borehamwood Times: A blimp over Hertsmere that says 'save our green belt'. Credit: Save Radlett Campaign GroupA blimp over Hertsmere that says 'save our green belt'. Credit: Save Radlett Campaign Group

During the meeting on April 27, the leader of the Hertsmere Labour party submitted an amendment to which he said "genuinely" shelved the draft local plan, but it was voted down by the ruling Conservatives.

Cllr Jeremy Newmark said officers should draw up a new plan within six months saying Hertsmere and its "residents" had been "left in limbo". He also claimed the Tories had ditched the draft plan after "panicking" about losing seats at the 2023 local elections.