Ickleford residents have voted "overwhelmingly" in favour of a new neighbourhood plan that aims to protect the village's countryside setting and heritage assets.

Following a referendum on Thursday, March 14, 379 'yes' votes were recorded to 32 'no's meaning that the plan will now be enforced.

A neighbourhood plan allows communities to choose where they want new homes, shops and offices to be built, have their say on what those new buildings should look like and the infrastructure that should be provided.

The Ickleford neighbourhood plan provides a shared vision for the village, promoting sustainable development, improvements to the village's road network and the preservation of community assets.

The new plan will have an impact on the design of new developments in the area, with the document stating: "Good design is not just about appearance, but also functionality and the relationship to surroundings and it is not about copying past styles or preventing innovative modern design.

"The aim is to create site-specific creative design."

The neighbourhood plan also states that "new dwellings should not be more than two storeys in height unless the context is appropriate".

Any new developments must integrate car parking within their plans, so that cars "do not dominate" the streets.

All new properties must also be of an appropriate scale and density to the surrounding area and be of a design with a locally inspired or distinctive character.

Five area types have been identified within Ickleford, to identify challenges to proposed developments.

These five areas include the historic core, settlement, rural countryside, Green Belt and new development.

On the issues that will be considered for proposed developments in these areas, the document adds: "Well designed places have a network of streets, footpaths, junctions and crossings and parking and servicing. New development needs to allow connections with services and facilities.

"New developments should mitigate any detrimental effects that they impose on the natural environment, while enhancing the existing landscape features and promoting habitat creation."

Outside of new homes, new and existing facilities within the village will be encouraged and supported.

The document adds: "Insofar as planning permission is required, proposals for the improvement, extension or partial replacement or redevelopment of buildings, structures and land use for community purposes will be supported where their design respects the character of the village and will not have an unacceptable impact on the amenities of residential properties."

Seven key community facilities have been identified by the plan, for which future proposals will only be supported if the facility is no longer viable or an alternative new facility has been provided.

These key community facilities include the village hall, Ickleford Stores, The Sport and Recreation Club, The Old George Public House and carpark, The Plume of Feathers Public House and car park,  The Cricketers Public House and carpark and the village's bus shelters.

This neighbourhood plan will be reviewed every five years, to ensure that progress is being made to achieve its vision and objectives.

Speaking after the vote, co-chair of the plan steering group Ruth Bryer said: "The Ickleford Neighbourhood Plan has been voted in!

"Thank you to everyone for all your help and support on this project.

"The voice of Ickleford residents is now stronger, with a set of home-grown Ickleford policies that must be used in the review of planning applications in the parish."


Cllr Louise Peace, North Herts councillor for Cadwell ward added: "A significant amount of development has been granted in Ickleford recently and there is more to come. 

"The neighbourhood plan is a welcome addition to the planning process; any new development should have infrastructure to support it and include affordable homes that are warm, cheap to heat and produce zero emissions." 

Ickleford joins Ashwell, Preston and other North Herts villages in adopting a neighbourhood plan.