Charitable organisation gives green light to Letchworth housing proposal

The proposed site for the housing development is placed in the narrow boundary between the north of

The proposed site for the housing development is placed in the narrow boundary between the north of Letchworth GC and Stotfold. Residents have called for the proposal to be scrapped. - Credit: Archant

A charitable organisation which owns land in Letchworth GC has defended its decision to give the green light to a housing proposal on the Green Belt.

Following a town-wide discussion, the Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation has decided to allow the site north of Letchworth GC’s Grange Estate to move forward to the next stage of North Herts District Council’s Local Plan process.

During the 12-day consultation period which finished on November 29, concerns were raised over the potentially negative transport and traffic impact of any new development – potentially for 1,000 homes – and the loss of agricultural Green Belt land.

John Lewis, chief executive of the Heritage Foundation, said: “We have a huge issue with housing and we had to ask ourselves how do we balance the pressure on the district council to provide houses with the concerns of the public. We thought the town-wide dialogue went very well. We wanted it to be as accessible as possible and we got really good numbers. But I don’t think the fact that we need houses can be in dispute.

“We have to think about the future prosperity of the town. The town centre is not busy enough, shops need more customers and the town needs to benefit economically. A lot of people were asking whether we could build on industrial land but 47% of people in Letchworth work in the town, so we need to keep those industrial areas.

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“The building of these homes would provide much-needed affordable housing for local people and help ensure the future prosperity of Letchworth. It is important to us that the garden city’s founding principles of good design, low housing density and sustainability shape any future developments. If the site is adopted as part of the Local Plan we will ensure issues raised such as transport and the Greenway are addressed.”

The site will now be considered by the district council for inclusion in the Local Plan, which will be the subject of a full public consultation, expected early next year.

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The Local Plan proposes a total of 10,700 new homes to be built across the district by 2031, including 1,500 in Letchworth GC.

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