20,000 homes: New development plan is put to the test

PUBLISHED: 11:32 09 February 2006 | UPDATED: 09:35 06 May 2010

The development area

The development area

BOB BRYANT reports on the public examination of the draft East of England Plan involving 20,000 new homes west of Stevenage and North Herts. Delegates, including those from Stevenage Borough Council, North Herts District Council and the Campaign Against S

BOB BRYANT reports on the public examination of the draft East of England Plan involving 20,000 new homes west of Stevenage and North Herts. Delegates, including those from Stevenage Borough Council, North Herts District Council and the Campaign Against Stevenage Expansion made contributions to an independent panel from the East of England Regional Assembly.

OVER 22,000 affordable homes could be built in the west and north of Stevenage and North Herts by 2021.

But the regeneration of Stevenage town centre could be slower with developers blaming its hostile environment.

If the plans eventually reach fruition it could mean over 14,000 jobs being created in the town's growth plan.

But one delegate warned: "If you do not create jobs Stevenage will just become a commuter town."

These facts sparked considerable debate and opposition when the Government's East of England Draft Plan involving Stevenage and North Hertfordshire was discussed by councils, developers and other organisations.

The in-depth discussions at the Spirella Ballroom in Letchworth GC last Thursday drew significant contributions from Stevenage Borough Council, North Hertfordshire District Council, Bedfordshire County Council, Campaign Against Stevenage Expansion (CASE) and Transport 2000 North Herts as well as other major organisations.

Questions were tabled for the 23 delegates concerning the draft version of the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) by the East of England Regional Assembly which was overseen by the independent panel of chairman Alan Richards and inspector Roy Foster.

Under the current policy document 14,000 home are earmarked for the wider Stevenage area and a figure of 7,800 set aside for North Herts.

Kevin Fitzgerald of the Campaign for Rural England (CPRE) said: "We don't agree with these figures. They are not justified and are excessive and will involve more people commuting into London to work.

"They are not sustainable and are taking up the Green Belt. The Green Belt is precious and must be fought for."

The panel will now consider all the information from the meeting and formulate the final recommendations for the Stevenage plan and it is expected a full report will be published later this year.

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