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East Herts Council pre-emptive bid for 10,000 house Garden City

Monday, 30 May 2016 09:52

Gilston Church Gilston Church

CPRE Hertfordshire is alarmed by East Herts Council’s bid for Government support for a ‘Garden Town’ with 10,000 houses in the Green Belt between Ware and Sawbridgeworth.

The bid could prejudice the emerging District Plan before it has even been published for public scrutiny.
Despite the proposal flying in the face of Green Belt policy, in his report to 24 May District Planning Panel, the Council Leader says it could:

"raise the profile of development in this location and . . . encourage the Government to provide solutions to existing known barriers to development ..."  

The report does not even point out to Councillors that the proposed location at Gilston is in the Green Belt. Ironically it highlights one of the benefits of a successful bid as:

"greater planning freedoms to resist speculative residential planning applications, and continued protection of the Green Belt."

There is still no agreed target for the number of houses that need to be built in East Herts, and no opportunity for this crucial question to be considered at a formal Hearing by a Planning Inspector. Until it is, all housing proposals in the countryside waived through by the Council’s Planners, and all the contentious Green Belt housing proposals by the Council two years ago, are based on speculation and untested assumptions.

CPRE Hertfordshire’s Hon. Director, Kevin FitzGerald said:

"There must be provision for new housing, but the case has not been made for this huge and highly controversial development in the Green Belt, which has been bitterly opposed by residents for years. It risks prejudicing the whole planning process"

Kevin continued:

"The proper time to consider such proposals will come when the Council publishes its formal District Plan for public scrutiny and debate. The Council should withdraw its bid until independent examination of the Plan concludes that the proposal is justified."

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