GALLERY: Baldock campaigners brave the snow to march against housing plans
- Credit: Archant
Campaigners braved the snow to march on Baldock this afternoon in protest against housing plans they feel will overload the town.
The march was organised by Save Rural Baldock campaigners who are urging local people to have their say on North Herts District Council’s preferred option sites for future development before the consultation closes on Friday.
Despite not having the weather on their side, the group’s ranks were swelled with approximately 500 people, young and old, marching in protest of the council’s housing blueprint.
Nine sites making up 3,414 houses have been allocated to be built in and around Baldock, including one of 2,800 homes at the Blackhorse Farm site to the north of the town.
The number earmarked for the market town is part of the council’s draft Local Plan, which sets out plans to build 14,000 homes across the district by 2031.
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Speaking after the march Save Rural Baldock’s Stephen Proops said: “I think it was great, a bit surreal with the weather, but it went really well.
“We were pleased to have Sir Oliver Heald’s support at the front of the marching group.
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“The main point of this is to encourage people to fill in their forms and have their say – that is the only way we are going to be able to stop this.
“I can’t praise the police and St John’s Ambulance teams highly enough for supervising the march.
“I think it’s incredible what the people of Baldock can achieve when they come together.”
Fellow member Adrienne Waterfield said: “Today we are showing solidarity against a housing plan which we do not feel has sufficient evidence to back it up.
“We want the council to do a good job rather than an adequate one.”
MP for North East Herts Sir Oliver came out in support of building a new garden city as an alternative to the council’s housing plan this week.
Speaking about Baldock’s housing allocation he said: “It is too big and it is in the wrong place. I feel that the council needs to have another look at this.
“Green Belt land is only supposed to be used as an exception – we don’t want ribbon development or an urban sprawl.
“This is why I’m supporting the vision of a garden city which would give the housing plan a North Hertfordshire flavour.”
Before the march there was a public meeting called by Baldock councillors in the community centre to discuss the Preferred Options Plan and the consultation process.
Councillor Jim McNally said: “It is important that if you want to have your say on the plans, you must get your response in.
“If you don’t respond the council will think you are okay with this plan.”
Michael Bingham of the Baldock Society also spoke at the meeting.
He said: “Our number one concern is that not enough work has been done by the council to understand the transport impact building these houses will have, and the affect this traffic increase will have on the character of the town.
“The residual impact on the town would be considerable and unacceptable.”
Earlier this month Save Rural Baldock campaigners took part in a march through neighbouring Letchworth, which saw hundreds take to the streets to protest against plans to build 1,000 homes north of the Grange estate.
Steve Paffet of Save The World’s First Garden City said: “Having read through the plan paragraph by paragraph, I know that it is seriously flawed.
“I think my three-year-old daughter could have done a better job.”
The results of the consultation period – which runs until Friday, February 6 – will be fed into the next version of the Local Plan.
For more details on the march and a guide to taking part in the consultation visit www.saveruralbaldock.co.uk.