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Hertfordshire’s growing gains

Published: 28 January 2020Hatfield Market on bright sunny dayHatfield Market

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Last month, we outlined our joint commitment to supporting the delivery of good growth in Hertfordshire. Our pan-county approach to growth issues and the growth agenda has been moving at pace since the formation of the Hertfordshire Growth Board in 2018, although we have certainly been planning for significant growth for some time.

The collaborative working across our two-tier system involves the county’s 10 district and borough councils, as well as the Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). There is a common will to work together, for the good of our county.

The creation of the Growth Board, chaired by the leader of Hertfordshire CC, David Williams, and the work we have done over the last 12 months, signals our focus on a joined-up approach to our residents and businesses.

The Growth Board’s main aim is to respond to key challenges facing the county over the coming years, providing effective place leadership and governance while also being the single point of contact around the delivery of our place ambitions with central Government.

The most recent evidence of this commitment is that the council, all of the district and borough councils and the Hertfordshire LEP are in the process of approving a joint memorandum of understanding confirming the commitment to close collaboration and joined-up working between councils and the nurturing of beneficial partnerships across the public and private sectors.

In Hertfordshire, we have a polycentric mix of towns, new towns and garden cities with a rich mix of diversity, culture and historical significance and a unique, pivotal location right at the heart of the so-called ‘Golden Triangle’ between London, Oxford and Cambridge.

Our local economy is strong, and we make a net contribution to UK Plc. That said, with success also come challenges and housing affordability, congestion and climate change issues are some of the key ones we face.

Together, we are preparing for our county’s population to go up by 175,000 by 2031 – a rise of nearly 15%. The estimated population of Hertfordshire in 2018 was 1,184,400, according to Herts Insight.

This growth will require the delivery of at least 100,000 new homes and 100,000 new jobs and the infrastructure such growth needs for it to be socially, economically and environmentally sustainable. This infrastructure has a price tag of nearly £6bn and we recognise we can only do justice to this challenge by working together.

Delivering quality place-making is fundamental to the work the Growth Board is leading and we have recognised the only way to achieve successful place-based outcomes is by working effectively with others countywide, on matters such as planning, economic growth and infrastructure.

We have a rich diversity of towns that characterise Hertfordshire and an interesting history of strategic planning interventions that have supported its growth previously. This can be seen in the first garden cities at Letchworth and Welwyn, as well as in post-war new towns such as Stevenage, Hatfield and Hemel Hempstead and in the declaration of the metropolitan green belt.

There are a wide range of development models being delivered as part of the current growth agenda in Hertfordshire, from new garden towns and villages, to urban extensions, town centre regeneration and village growth.

We have recognised in Hertfordshire that we are all part of something much bigger – and acknowledged that in order to succeed for our residents and business, the only way to work is together.

Over the last nine months, our council leaders, the Hertfordshire LEP chair and all chief executives have jointly developed a place-based programme that responds proactively to our growth ambitions and challenges now and in the future.

This broad-based, multi-faceted programme will integrate new and existing work across such issues as climate change, economic growth, housing affordability, digital delivery, infrastructure and strategic planning.

We are now moving into implementation of our joint programme and, through our partnership, are developing a systems leadership approach across our local government and Hertfordshire LEP teams.

Having worked in this sector for the last three decades, I have been impressed by the clear ambition and determination to work together effectively that I have seen since I came to Hertfordshire.

The Growth Board journey continues and the will to be proactive in supporting good growth, place-making and the continued success of this county is clear for all to see.

“There is a common will to work together, for the good of our county.”
Patsy Dell, Director, Hertfordshire Growth, Hertfordshire Growth Board