Council reveals plan to build homes on North Hertfordshire Green Belt

A COUNCIL is to discuss future housing targets next week with a view to putting forward a proposal to build thousands of homes on Green Belt land.

North Hertfordshire District Council’s (NHDC) Cabinet will meet next Tuesday to consider housing provision in the district for the next 20 years, with a preferred option of 7,000 homes outlined.

The proposed figure - which would see an estimated 2,580 affordable homes built - is less than half that of a regionally imposed housing target of 15,800 under the East of England Plan (EoEP), which is soon to be dropped by central government in a move which will see local councils set their own targets.

Cllr Tom Brindley, NHDC portfolio holder for planning, transport and enterprise, defended the preferred option of 7,000 homes by saying that it was “viable” unlike the East of England Plan, and that the 15,800 target had been imposed to meet a regional need, not one specific to the district.

“North Hertfordshire District Council is not anti-growth - we recognise that we’ve a need and a responsibility to provide housing for our residents and their families,” he said, before describing the council as “custodians of the environment”.

“We do want to protect the Green Belt as it is part of the reason that makes North Hertfordshire such a fantastic place to work and live.

“We need to get the right balance. There are some parts of it that are more open and therefore are more environmentally sensitive than others but small encroachments will be required and we do accept that.”

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Cllr Brindley also said the district council would work with neighbouring authorities such as Stevenage, but ultimately would look after their “own numbers”.

Under the EoEP, Stevenage Borough Council had wanted to build 3,600 homes between Todd’s Green and Norton Green in North Hertfordshire despite NHDC’s objection, and a judge quashed the planning permission in the High Court last summer.

The latest plans will see eight options for future housing provision discussed at next Tuesday’s meeting, ranging from 15,800 dwellings to 2,500 on Brownfield sites.

Once an option has been recommended, a six-week public consultation will start on February 17.