No plans for a Wynd of change

SIR – Wynd of Change – Comet headline last week about NHDC s approval of the latest town centre proposal. How wrong in almost every respect. A wind of change would have been a plan that embraced the two greatest issues we face in the future, as a town

SIR - "Wynd of Change" - Comet headline last week about NHDC's approval of the latest town centre proposal. How wrong in almost every respect.

A 'wind of change' would have been a plan that embraced the two greatest issues we face in the future, as a town and as a society - climate change and out of control consumption - rather than harking back to the 1990s clone town centres, 'shopping offer' (to quote the landlord's never ceasing mantra) and increasing private car transport.

I witnessed what to me was a bemusing process throughout this in which concerns and objections were raised and conceded by those charged with the decision only for them to conclude that 'on balance' the plans should be approved - and even now that approval is conditional on the Highways Department completing a study of the traffic chaos I predict will ensue from the plans, etc. I also witnessed what I interpreted as a significant opposition to these plans amongst local people but also a great resignation.

But I must not carp too much - the landlord and freeholder of most if not all of the area concerned, the Heritage Foundation, submitted a planning application as is their right, the planning authority and guardian of the local conservation area, NHDC, approved that plan, for whatever reasons, within our democratic process and planning procedures - although I cannot see it as a 'wind of change' and do rue the great opportunity Letchworth has missed to leap once again to the vanguard of radical progress (social as much as planning) just as Ebenezer Howard and co did 100 years ago.


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One 'wind of change' this does herald, perhaps we could at last be completely pragmatic and ditch the constant references to Ebenezer Howard and Garden City ideas or at least stop pretending to be furthering and maintaining them, and just get on with aspiring to be a (more busy) shopping centre and dormitory town, not very green, working to rather old models of "redevelopment"', firmly amongst the ordinary (and nothing wrong with that, you might say) - just as this plan and its acceptance confirm.

MICK BEE

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Letchworth

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