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Consultation website problems trigger delay

Hertsmere Borough Council has announced an extension to its draft local plan public consultation – just four days after it opened.

The consultation to allow residents to have their say on sites put forward for housing and employment redevelopment was meant to last for six weeks.

But the council has now confirmed the consultation period will end on December 6 rather than November 22.

Council leader Morris Bright says the council is aware some people “experienced difficulties” with the consultation website on the day it launched (October 11) including registration struggles.

His colleague, Cllr Dr Harvey Cohen, who is leading on the planning process, has added he is aware some households may not receive a newsletter about the consultation until potentially ten days in so a decision has been taken now to extend the consultation period by two weeks.

There have also been accusations that the consultation website has been difficult to navigate. The Hertsmere Liberal Democrats, who voted not to send the draft local plan out to consultation yet at a meeting on September 30, described it as “not fit for purpose”.

Potters Bar Labour councillor Chris Myers said: “I have spoken to dozens of residents who told me how difficult, or impossible, they have found it to engage with the online consultation process.

“I attempted to login myself to see if I had the same experience. What I found was one of the most user unfriendly websites found this side of Windows 2000.”

Cllr Cohen has admitted there has been some confusion because there are two separate sites in which residents can make comments related to the draft local plan.

Comments on specific sites within the draft local plan should be made via a separate online consultation portal, while more general comments can be made via www.hertsmerelocalplan.com

Cllr Cohen says he is hopeful clearer links will be provided higher up on the www.hertsmerelocalplan.com homepage within the next 24 hours or so, to make it easier for residents to view specific documents, such as the draft local plan itself, or find the consultation portal.

He added: “A fair number of people have engaged so far and obviously we want that to continue.

“Our online consultation portal is an important channel by which you can submit your comments – but it’s not the only one. You can also email in your comments to local.plan@hertsmere.gov.uk, write to us or complete our online survey (via Have Your Say on the local plan website).

“Our message is simple – we want to hear your views, so by whatever means you choose, please respond to our engagement and help us shape how the plan moves forward and how the borough grows over the next 15 years and beyond.”

Hard copies of the draft local plan, response forms and pre-paid envelopes are also available at libraries and parish and town council offices.

The council says there will also be a further opportunity to comment on the final plan next year, before it is submitted to the Secretary of State for formal examination.

 

Article originally posted by Borehamwood Times

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