Compromise call over Stevenage Green Belt housing plan

A map showing the Stevenage borough boundary with potential greenfield sites in brown which could ca

A map showing the Stevenage borough boundary with potential greenfield sites in brown which could cater for up to 5,300 new homes - Credit: Archant

A CAMPAIGN group which seeks to stop Green Belt land becoming housing has urged a council to consider a compromise.

Friends of Forster Country (FOFC) has had its say on the Stevenage Borough Local Plan – which sets the vision for the town through to 2031 – calling for another housing option to be considered.

In the draft plan, which is under public consultation until July 22, Stevenage Borough Council has put forward three options for housing – with a preferred figure of 5,300 homes to be built.

If backed by the public, it could mean Green Belt land being reduced on the outskirts of Stevenage.

That would put land to the north of the town, named Forster Country as a result of author EM Forster’s residence in the late 19th century, under threat.

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FOFC chairman John Spiers has instead suggested a revised figure of 4,200 homes.

He said: “This would mean developing the infill and brownfield sites covered in option ‘A’ (for 2,800 homes), together with some other sites already earmarked, but leaving free the northern possible area around the only two Grade I-listed properties in Stevenage, St Nicholas Church and Rooks Nest House, and the surrounding Forster Country.”

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Mr Spiers described the area as a “green lung” for residents and said the north and east of Stevenage had already taken on a “massive development with Great Ashby”.

He added: “If that part of Forster Country within Stevenage is developed for housing or workplaces it is very likely that North Hertfordshire will also build on adjacent land immediately to the north, blocking all possibility of open countryside within walking distance for many Stevenage residents and raising the spectre of coalescence of Stevenage, Hitchin and Letchworth.

“This is a very far cry from the original concept of Stevenage which included providing more space and freedom for many of those living in overcrowded conditions in London.”

Councillor Sharon Taylor, leader of Stevenage Borough Council, said: “I’m very pleased that they’re responding as Friends of Forster Country have in the past helped us to develop better plans for the town than we would have done otherwise.

“I welcome their feedback along with other groups and we are well aware that it is a site of historical importance.”

To comment on the local plan, visit

Alternatively, write to the council at its offices in Daneshill House, Danestrete, Stevenage, SG1 1HN.

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