It’s time for the protest to stop

I M of the opinion that the campaigners who are protesting against the sale of a plot of land in Baldock to housing developers are suffering from a severe case of nimbyism. North Herts District Council owns the land in question, which lies off Yeomanry Dr

I'M of the opinion that the campaigners who are protesting against the sale of a plot of land in Baldock to housing developers are suffering from a severe case of nimbyism.

North Herts District Council owns the land in question, which lies off Yeomanry Drive on Clothall Common, and wants to sell it.

For a number of years, members of the campaign group Save Our Green Spaces, otherwise know as SOGS, have claimed the land should be afforded village green status, giving it the legal protection so that it can never be built on.

To achieve this status it must be proved the land has been used for recreational purposes for a period of 20 years.


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The campaigners have repeatedly failed to do this. An inquiry was held in 2006 and reopened in January this year. Both times an independent inspector sided against the campaigners claiming there is no substantial evidence the land has been used for recreational purposes during this period.

The council's participation in the initial inquiry, and subsequent reopening of the case, is undoubtedly costing the taxpayers money.

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I think it is wrong for a small minority of people to force the council to spend part of its budget on an issue such as this, when it is clear the grounds for such a protest are weak.

The council claims the land has been earmarked for development since 1984. Therefore any solicitor worth their weight would surely have pointed this fact out to any homeowner who has bought a property in the area since then.

Just because it has taken more than 20 years to come to fruition, doesn't mean the council should now be blocked from selling the land to developers.

Yes, homeowners may have got used to having a green on their doorstep but, instead of baulking at the idea of a housing development which has been on the cards for 24 years, they should be grateful for the two decades they have been allowed to enjoy the open space.

More housing, particularly the affordable variety, is desperately needed. Plans for the land have included some affordable housing and, to my mind, this can only be a good thing.

High house prices have been forcing first time buyers out of the area. Attracting people to North Herts with affordable housing will bring with it new skills and new money.

The sale of the land stands to make £2m which has already been included in the council's budget.

Barrie Jones, head of the council's financial services, has previously issued a stark warning - failure to sell the land could have a significant impact on spending elsewhere and could result in a rise in council tax.

So, for the sake of a few, all taxpayers in North Herts could lose out threefold. The council is using taxpayers' money to represent itself in the inquiry and if the sale of the land does not go through we have been warned to expect a rise in council tax and a significant impact on spending as a direct result.

I think it's clear the SOGS campaigners are being selfish in their actions.

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