Frustration’ over homes plan

PLANS for the building of at least 3,600 new homes on greenbelt land in Comet country are not adequate, according to the county council. Hertfordshire County Council is in negotiation with the West Stevenage Consortium – the body behind plans to build tho

PLANS for the building of at least 3,600 new homes on greenbelt land in Comet country are not adequate, according to the county council.

Hertfordshire County Council is in negotiation with the West Stevenage Consortium - the body behind plans to build thousands of new homes to the west of Stevenage - over the provision of infrastructure for the development.

County councillor Derrick Ashley, executive member for strategic planning and partnerships, said: "We are extremely concerned that the proposals put forward by the WSC do not offer sufficient certainty that facilities will be provided to a satisfactory standard.

"The current legal agreement is not adequate to support a development of this scale and does not guarantee delivery of necessary provisions such as roads, public transport, schools, and community and leisure facilities.


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"We have worked long and hard to try and reach an agreement on a joint document with the WSC and it's frustrating that we've been unable to do so."

If the WSC's plans are approved, they will contribute a package of measures worth £70m, (£19,444 per home), which will go towards providing facilities to support the new development.

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Cllr Ashley said: "We're not asking for more money from WSC. We simply want some cast iron guarantees from them, and so far we've just not had any.

"We are very keen to ensure that we do not sell the residents short in this area once this development gets under way."

Project director at West Stevenage Consortium, Andrew Dutton, said: "The West Stevenage Consortium accepted the Secretary of State's requirement to provide greater certainty to the delivery of infrastructure and community facilities, and the new legal agreement submitted late last year now includes guarantees.

"The consortium has agreed to provide a series of bonds that will guarantee the delivery of £70m of infrastructure - the items covered by the bonds, the value of the bonds, the indexation, the timing and the third party that will guarantee the bonds (a respected financial institution) have all been agreed with the councils involved, including the county council."

John Gardner, executive councillor for the environment and economy at Stevenage Borough Council, said: "We are anxious for it to get moving but it has to be a high quality development and sustainable.

"Now it [the plan] is in front of the Secretary of State, we will be making positive suggestions to her.

"We won't be arguing over how many roads, etc, there should be. We are simply strengthening some clauses in it."

Public consultation is currently under way and will end on March 9.

This will be the final opportunity for residents to comment on the plan before it is finalised in the spring.

The county council will be considering its detailed response in February.

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