Comet country chosen to sacrifice green belt
PLANS to build more than 22,000 homes in Stevenage and North Herts by 2021 are a threat to Green Belt land, and now there are new fears they will endanger village life. Comet country is one of at least 27 areas in the country chosen by Whitehall planners
PLANS to build more than 22,000 homes in Stevenage and North Herts by 2021 are a threat to Green Belt land, and now there are new fears they will endanger village life.
Comet country is one of at least 27 areas in the country chosen by Whitehall planners to sacrifice areas of Green Belt to make way for thousands of homes.
As well as a loss of Green Belt land, there are fears villages and hamlets will be gobbled up and become part of Stevenage.
The East of England Plan, published in May last year, sets a Government target of 22,200 homes to be built in Stevenage and North Herts by 2021.
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The East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) is also currently consulting on housing requirements up until 2031.
EERA is consulting on 18,600 homes being built in North Herts between 2011 and 2031, and 6,400 being built in Stevenage over the same period.
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Cllr Steve Jarvis, a member of North Herts District Council (NHDC), said plans discussed by council officers last week so far include 5,000 homes west of Stevenage, 2,200 homes north of Stevenage - between Stevenage and Graveley - and 3,100 homes north of Great Ashby in the period until 2021, with an additional 2,400 between 2021 and 2026.
He said the plans ignore most of the 800 responses to a public consultation, during which the majority of people opposed development to the north of Stevenage.
The plans also include a new road from Corey's Mill to Great Ashby.
Cllr Jarvis said: "The proposals could scarcely be worse. The proposed plans would result in housing engulfing Friends Green and Warren's Green, with a dual carriageway leading to Corey's Mill."
Cllr John Gardener, Stevenage Borough Council's (SBC) portfolio holder for environment and regeneration, said: "It's accepted by both councils that space has to be found for the new houses in the East of England Plan. Every possible attempt will be made to stop coalescence with settlements."
He added: "It seems to me Cllr Jarvis is scaremongering and isn't interested in providing homes for all those who need them. He would rather see waiting lists grow and people become homeless than adopt sensible and sustainable plan principles."
Forster Country - the last remaining farmland within Stevenage, famous for its connections with novelist E M Forster - looks likely to be preserved as a country park.
Historian and member of Friends of Forster Country, Margaret Ashby, said: "The plans do show a country park but we are very concerned that there are plans to build in the area close to Forster Country. Our hope is for a really big country park for the whole area."
Another meeting to consider amendments will be held by NHDC and SBC on Tuesday, after which the proposals will go before both councils' Cabinets. If they are agreed there will be another public consultation early next year.
Any new Tory Government would scrap all the regional plans, though the Conservatives have not said what they would put in their place.