Fears over growth plan

PUBLISHED: 12:39 02 February 2006 | UPDATED: 09:32 06 May 2010

MAJOR plans for Stevenage over the next 15 years are under the spotlight this week. They include thousands of new homes – and a local campaigner has voiced his fears for the future. John Hepworth is a founder of Friends of Forster Country which is determi

MAJOR plans for Stevenage over the next 15 years are under the spotlight this week.

They include thousands of new homes - and a local campaigner has voiced his fears for the future.

John Hepworth is a founder of Friends of Forster Country which is determined to save from development an area to the north of Stevenage associated with the novelist EM Forster who lived there as a child.

There is a prospect of 8,000 homes being built in and around Stevenage between 2001 and 2021.

"It is barely believable that something so enormous should be wished on this part of the county," said Dr Hepworth. "It doesn't make sense.

"This is greater Stevenage, a regional city with a 125,000 population which is being put forward within the Stevenage development scheme.

"It doesn't seem to add up to anything coherent or sensible. I am astonished."

Plans for the town are being discussed at the Examination in Public (EiP) on the draft East of England Plan at The Spirella Ballroom, Letchworth GC, today (Thursday, February 2).

The draft plan includes a number of specific proposals including:

* Regeneration of the town centre

* Eight thousand of the 15,800 new homes in northern Hertfordshire being in the Stevenage sub-area, 3,600 of them West of Stevenage

* Substantial employment growth

A major aim of the draft plan is to align jobs and housing growth to discourage long distance commuting and transport congestion, and provide for the region's affordable housing needs.

Cllr John Reynolds, chair of the East of England Regional Assembly's Regional Planning Panel, said: "The draft East of England Plan identifies the regeneration of Stevenage city centre as a key priority in supporting employment and housing growth in the area.

"However, significant investment in public services and infrastructure will be required by central government to support the plans for growth."

The final version of the draft East of England Plan will guide planning and development across the region to the year 2021 and encompasses economic development, housing, the environment, transport, waste management, renewable energy, sport, culture, recreation and more.

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