Plans for 800 homes on Forster Country approved for second time
- Credit: Archant
A last ditch effort to save Forster Country in Stevenage from major development has been quashed, as the borough council’s planning committee voted to approve the plans for a second time last night.
The proposals to build 800 homes and a primary school on the land between North Road and Weston Road – which includes author EM Forster’s childhood home Rook’s Nest House – were given outline planning permission, with seven votes for, five against and one abstention.
Friends of Forster Country representative John Spiers made a presentation objecting the plans once again, going over new factors that have arisen since the previous approval in February.
READ MORE: Plans for 800 new homes on Stevenage’s Forster Country given go-ahead despite objectionsHe said: “Housing projections for the Stevenage plan are based on 2014 housing projections, which suggested an additional requirement on 7,500 dwellings.
“This has since been updated for the latest Office for National Statistics projection for housing in Stevenage for 2011 and 2031 being just 3,500 additional houses. This is less than half the number currently being planned for.
“The officers report fails to recognise the huge change of circumstances.
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“Secondly, some of the housing in Stevenage is intended for London commuters. They are now working from home, people can work from further afield.
“Who does this benefit? This will bring £50 to £100 million profit to the developer.
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“On the basis of irrefutable requirements for fewer houses, the long term impact of the coronavirus pandemic on working practices and reduced commuting, the adverse impact on the environment and the permanent loss of a valuable community asset, which has added crtical mental health benefits, we urge you to exercise you democratic power and reject this application.”
The application was put on hold after it was called in to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, but the call in was thrown out in June this year.
READ MORE: Stevenage’s Forster Country: Campaigners see ‘hope snuffed out’ as hold on 800 homes plan is liftedWhile the application was on hold, new rules took effect, which meant a different charging regime, leading to a lower contribution requirements for the developer.
Instead, there will be a community infrastructure levy (CIL) of £2.5 million to help the council deliver further infrastructure.