Is the current proposal the same as Rickneys extension?
No, this is a completely different proposal in a different location. The Rickneys extension covers a large area to the east of the existing site beyond St.John’s Wood and reaches to within 100m of Chapmore End village and Rickneys Barns. This application covers an area south of St.John’s Wood, the boundary being less than 200m from homes in Bengeo and 30m from those on Sacombe Rd.

What is a Local Planning Authority?

A Local Planning Authority is a council responsible for formulating planning policy and processing planning applications. In Hertford, responsibility for planning is split between Hertfordshire County Council and East Herts District Council.

The District Council is responsible for homes, shops and industrial buildings.
The County Council is responsible for schools, waste facilities, roads, fire stations and mineral extraction.

As well as handling planning applications, each council is also responsible for  planning policy, which means forward planning and the outline allocation of land use. These are commonly referred to as Local or District Plans and cover a period of years looking in to the future, typically 15 to 30 years.

What is the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)?

The NPPF sets out the UK government’s planning policies for England and how these are expected to be applied at a local level. The planning policies and decisions made by local councils should adhere to these overarching national policies.

What is the Green Belt?

Green belt land refers to an area that is kept in reserve for an open space. The main purpose of the green belt policy is to protect the land around larger urban centres from urban sprawl, and maintain the designated area for forestry and agriculture as well as to provide habitat to wildlife. Gravel extraction is permitted on Green Belt land as it is deemed a “temporary activity”.

What is the Minerals Local Plan?

By law, the County Council is required to prepare Waste and Minerals Plans for the county. These set out planning policies for mineral extraction and waste management in the county. They also identify potentially suitable sites for such facilities. The current Minerals Local Plan covers the periods from  2002-2016. A new plan to cover the period until 2030 is currently being formulated.

» View Minerals Local Plan 2002-16 Documents at HertsDirect
» Read more about the Minerals Plan Review at HertsDirect

What is the Emerging District Plan?

The term Emerging District Plan is used to refer to the draft District Plan being drawn up by the District Council that will guide development until 2031.

What is a Preferred Area?

In terms of minerals extraction, a Preferred Area is a piece of land that has been identified by the County Council as an area where minerals extraction can take place. However, before any extraction takes place, a detailed planning application must be submitted and approved by the Council. A planning application to extract minerals from an area that is outside a Preferred Area is much less likely to receive planning permission.

Is the County Council obliged to approve an application because it is in a Preferred Area?

No. The council can still reject the application if they decide it is not acceptable, or they can approve it but with strict conditions to mitigate the quarry’s affect on the local environment.

Is the proposed quarry within a Preferred Area?

Most of it is, yes, but not all. The planned gravel extraction would take place in four geographical phases. Phases 1-3 are within a Preferred Area, whilst Phase 4 is outside a Preferred Area.

Who is responsible for extracting gravel?

A mining company or landowners can submit a planning application to extract gravel.

What is a Section 106 Agreement?

Section 106 (S106) Agreements are legal agreements between Local Authorities and developers; these are linked to planning permissions and can also be known as planning obligations. They are named after Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

What is the current stage of the planning process for this proposal?

At present (April 2016) the application is out for consultation, which means that the application documents have been made available to the public for their comments.

» Background information

» See the planning documents at HertsDirect

Can I attend the planning meeting when the application goes to committee?

Yes, the meeting is public. However, you will not be able to speak or address the committee unless you have prior permission.

How many lorries are there likely to be getting into the proposed quarry?

The planning application mentions an average of 50 lorry movement in and 50 movement out of the site. There is no mention of when these movements will take place, although the site operating hours are stated as 7am-6pm Monday to Friday and 7am-1pm on Saturdays. The applicant claims that there will be no material impact on capacity of the surrounding road network.

What is the situation with housing proposals in the Bengeo nursery area?

The Bengeo Nursery Area is currently Green Belt land. Planning permission to build 58 homes on the site was refused in 2013 for this very reason. The area will remain Green Belt until a new District Plan is approved. At present the District Council do not provide an estimated date for the adoption of the new District Plan. However a further public consultation will take place before it is submitted to national government for approval. Only after this approval will it be adopted.

How will the new quarry affect Sacombe Rd and A602?

We do not have the necessary tools to predict the exact impact on the road system. The applicant claims that there will be no material impact on the local road system. HCC Highways are expected to comment on the application, and these comments may well include a view on how the road will be affected.

What is Rickneys?

Rickneys is the mothballed gravel pit to the northwest of the proposed Bengeo pit. It is named after the farm between St John’s Wood and Chapmore End.

What is the current situation with Rickneys extension?

Planning permission to work a northern part of the Rickneys site was granted in 2006. Condition 2 stipulated that work should begin no later than 23rd December 2013. This did not happen. A further planning application was submitted in 2013 to vary the condition, extending the period for commencement until 23rd December 2017. The application went before the planning committee in February 2014, at which it was agreed that planning permission should be granted subject to the legal agreement of conditions attached to planning approval. As yet, this agreement has not been reached and therefore no Decision Notice (ie planning permission) has been issued.

I keep seeing abbreviations that I don’t understand. What do they mean?

Here are some of the abbreviation that you might comes across and their meanings, some of which you can click on for a fuller explanation.

LPA Local Planning Authority
NPPF National Planning Policy Framework
EHDC East Herts District Council (sometimes shortened to EHC for East Herts Council)
LMP Local Minerals Plan
S106 Section 106 Agreement, a condition attached to planning permission