Applicant won’t attend West of Stevenage inquiry

West of Stevenage

West of Stevenage - Credit: Archant

AN INQUIRY on plans to build 3,600 homes will not be attended by the original applicant, prompting calls to withdraw the application.

Plans to build the houses to the west of Stevenage were quashed by a High Court judge in 2011, who overturned planning permission in 2009 for the development.

But this February, authorities learned the plans were once again back on the table after a letter from the secretary of state said the inquiry would be reopened.

In a North Herts District Council Cabinet report released this week, officers said they had written to the planning inspectorate stating reopening the inquiry was “not the appropriate course of action”.

They also said without the applicant at any inquiry, the process would not be fair.

“With the applicant not prepared to attend there is no mechanism for meaningful negotiation or discussion,” says the report.

“Officers have written to the planning inspectorate indicating that to reopen the public inquiry in this situation is not the appropriate course of action.

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“We have also given notice that we may pursue a claim of costs against the applicant for unreasonable behaviour in not withdrawing an application they are no longer prepared to defend.”

And North Herts District Council leader Lynda Needham added: “This relates to an application first submitted to the councils over a decade ago.

“The application is now so out of date it seems surprising that the secretary of state is even considering opening the inquiry, particularly as we understand the applicant is not going to be there.”

Plans for the development, which would be situated between Todd’s Green and Norton Green near Wymondley, also include leisure and community facilities and shops.

The land spans both North Herts and Stevenage districts.

Cllr Sharon Taylor, leader of Stevenage Borough Council, said: “We need housing in Stevenage, we have a waiting list of 7,000. We want to see, for the sake of those people waiting and for the sake of the economy, some building taking place.

“I hope the public inquiry will be successful.”

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