The Shenley Neighbourhood Plan

Policy, Strategy + Design Guidance
The Shenley Plan

The adopted Shenley Neighbourhood Plan combines a range of strategic spatial land use and design policies supported by a design code, a precedent study and extensive photographic evidence




Maintaining and improving our distinctive character and heritage as a beautiful rural village, surrounded by farmed land and countryside, with accessible facilities, better serving the needs of our growing community, is at the heart of our vision. In our Neighbourhood Plan, developed together with the residents, we present a vision supported by 13 objectives. We aim to deliver this framework through implementing policies, design principles and codes when planning applications are developed, decided upon and delivered.

We have further developed 12 Community Priority Projects, to be delivered with CIL and in partnership with local organisations and landowners.



There are seven policies in the Shenley Plan, supported by eight Design Principles and Codes. The polices cover SH1 Rural Character, SH2 Local Green Space, SH3 Housing Mix & Choices, SH4 Connecting Shenley Village, SH5 Community Infrastructure Facilities, SH6 Local Knowledge for Good Design and SH7 Building for Life. The Design Principles and Codes cover SC1 Local Patterns, SC2 Design Scrutiny, SC3 Layout | Rural Settlement Pattern, SC4 Buildings | Less is More. Simplicity, SC5 Buildings | Massing & Roofs, SC6 Boundaries & Edges, SC7 Rural Landscape and SC8 Healthy Trees & Hedges

Together, the policies and codes with provided precedent study aim to deliver our vision for the parish to grow. Our Plan is, we believe, unique as it combines a range of more strategic design policies aimed at protecting and reinventing tried and tested principles of ‘Rural Village Character‘ for 21st century living and working with more specific Design Codes, supported by a detailed precedent study and photographic evidence. The latter is important to us. It aims to assist design teams, officers and planning committee members to develop a richer understanding of the cherished and valued characterises of our rural built and landscape environment, as well as our social fabric which is most vibrant in our hubs, made up of schools, churches, synagogues, pubs, sports and leisure spaces, shops, GP services and other employment clusters. This while shaping and supporting rural and not suburban low-density settlement patterns, biodiverse, informal and productive landscapes and rural building typologies all firmly focused on addressing some of the unique but also co-dependent aspects of climate, biodiversity, affordability and social isolation crises. We address those from more strategic scale to detail, especially when it comes to housing mix and choice, street- and landscape design, boundaries and edges as well as building design.



Our Neighbourhood Plan secures more 'Local Knowledge for Good Design' (SH6) and it asks developers to demonstrate in their Design & Access Statement how the ‘Building for Life’ questions (SH7) are addressed. We believe local engagement and more relevant information provided prior to submission of planning applications are two important instruments in our strategy to contribute, improve and scrutinise site specific proposals. The policies, supporting text and codes give all involved more information to consider and a more shared language. We believe this empowers us in the process and lays the foundations for better design processes and outcomes for our growing rural and vibrant community.

The draft codes included codes for courtyard buildings, farmstead type clusters and terraced cottages, because of their excellent thermal and social faculties, as well as a code for passive solar design. They were removed by the examiner who was otherwise complimentary of our design-coding work for the Parish.

"I commend the quality and the clarity of aspirations set out in the Design Principles and Code - it is some of the best design guidance I have seen and is particularly well illustrated." John Slater | Independent Examiner

The incredible environmental and social performances we recognise in our historic rural settlement, spaces and buildings, which we aimed to support through policy and codes, hit a few barriers. The issue is related to Neighbourhood Plans having to be 'in strategic conformity' with Local Plans, the NPPF as well as Building Regulations and the traffic policies that have not responded yet to climate, affordability, social isolation nor biodiversity crises adequately. We have made a few inroads with our Plan by as soon as the new Local Plan is adopted, an update of our Neighbourhood Plan will be carried out. This is expected no later than in 2024.

Project Team

Shenley Parish Council
Shenley Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group

Key Facts

Area: 1400 hectares
Timescale: 4 years
Approximate cost: £41,000 plus substantial time commitment from parishioners
Funded by: Parish Council and Locality

Judges' Comments

"A model example of a community led adopted Neighbourhood Plan combining a range of strategic
spatial land use and design policies supported by a design code, a precedent study and extensive photographic evidence."