Campaigners set provisional date for Letchworth protest march against housing plans

Steve Paffet speaking at a Save The World's First Garden City meeting.

Steve Paffet speaking at a Save The World's First Garden City meeting. - Credit: Archant

A Letchworth campaigning group has set a provisional date to march on the town to protest against housing plans which they deem to be unfair.

Save The World’s First Garden City members are currently negotiating with police over plans for a march through the town earmarked for Saturday, January 10.

North Herts district councillors voted to move their Preferred Options draft to the consultation stage at a packed out North Herts Leisure Centre in November – which saw vocal protests from Letchworth and Baldock campaigning groups before the meeting.

The draft plan sets out the district’s housing requirements until 2031 – which currently stands at 12,100 homes.

Letchworth’s draft allocation contains 11 sites making up 1,537 homes which are still to be built, including 1,000 dwellings on land north of the Grange estate.

Steve Paffet of Save the World’s First Garden City said: “We are strongly opposed to plans to build on swathes of the Green Belt, particularly in Letchworth where it goes against all of the garden city principles.

“I really hope that there are several hundred of us with banners and boards, raising awareness but in a peaceful and cheery way. We want families to participate, not just adults.”

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The group propose to meet at the Broadway Fountains at about 11am and take part in an hour-long march on the Broadway, Station Road, Norton Way South, Leys Avenue and East Cheap, before meeting back at the fountains.

Mr Paffet added: “As someone who comes from the Isle of Wight, I know how important a natural habitat is to keep your life in balance.

“When I moved to Letchworth I found it hard to adjust. The only way I was able to settle here was to get out on the edge of the town and really enjoy the Green Belt.

“Medieval hedgerows, endangered bird species, not to mention the Letchworth Gravels – all this heritage will be gone and gone for good.

“This government and the Labour one before have put unimaginable pressure on councils to provide thousands of homes, but we feel these figures are out of touch, too many too fast at the cost of our environment.”

Residents and businesses will be asked for their opinion on the Preferred Options with a public consultation set to run for seven weeks from December 18 until February 6.

The results of the consultation will be used to prepare the final version of the Draft Local Plan to be put forward, following a further consultation, for examination by the Planning Inspectorate next year.