New rules for housebuilding in Hertsmere are not expected to come into force until at least 2024.

And decision makers at Hertsmere Borough Council have admitted the ability to turn down inappropriate planning applications is “weakened” without an up-to-date local plan.

The council had drawn up a local plan - primarily outlining sites to meet housing targets - but withdrew it at its draft stage following backlash from thousands of residents during a public consultation.

Borehamwood Times: A protest to 'save the green belt' in HertsmereA protest to 'save the green belt' in Hertsmere (Image: Newsquest)

At a meeting on November 23, Cllr Dr Harvey Cohen, in charge of planning, said there is “no agreed timetable” for when a new local plan will be in place.

Responding to a public question, Cllr Cohen said: “The 2023 [target] has been shelved because we have shelved the previous draft local plan. We don’t have an agreed timetable but it certainly won’t be ready for 2023 – it is more likely to be 2024 or 2025.”

Cllr Dr Cohen added: “Part of the reason for this was the need to obtain clarity from the government regarding the calculation of housing need and changes to the national policy.”

Borehamwood Times: Cllr Harvey Cohen, left, and Hertsmere Borough Council leader Morris BrightCllr Harvey Cohen, left, and Hertsmere Borough Council leader Morris Bright (Image: Hertsmere Borough Council)

The previous draft plan set out a need for 12,160 new homes across the 15-year period to 2038 – a figure based on Westminster government housing targets.

Many of the sites earmarked for development are green belt with land across the borough at risk.

Cllr Dr Cohen said the plan was shelved in April 2022 following community feedback and the need to “reduce pressure” on the green belt by looking at the amount of brownfield or previously developed land in the future.

Conservative-run Hertsmere Borough Council’s existing local plan, which was adopted in 2013, is considered out of date because the planning authority can only demonstrate a 2.5-year supply of land for new homes in the area.

A council report from April 2022 noted the plan will become “increasingly out of date” as new evidence is produced, for example, if the government identifies there is a different housing need in Hertsmere from the initial 12,160 new homes figure.

In March 2020, a government white paper set out that all local authorities should adopt up-to-date planning policies before December 2023, a deadline which Hertsmere is now set to miss.