Pirton construction access route fight goes on

PUBLISHED: 06:59 11 December 2017

Holwell residents make their point next to the entrance to the proposed off-road construction access route. Picture: Danny Loo

Holwell residents make their point next to the entrance to the proposed off-road construction access route. Picture: Danny Loo

Danny Loo Photography 2017

Off-road is the safest route – that’s the message from villagers as a developer continues to advocate a construction access route that has been repeatedly rejected on safety grounds.

HACT's proposed off-road construction access route. Picture: Danny LooHACT's proposed off-road construction access route. Picture: Danny Loo

CALA Homes has planning permission to build 78 homes south of Holwell Road, on the eastern edge of Pirton, and hopes to send up to 60 heavy vehicles a day through the lanes of either neighbouring Holwell or both villages for at least three years.

North Herts District Council’s planning control committee deferred a decision on construction access in May in the hope that a purpose-built route bypassing both villages might be possible. In September, it rejected both village routes.

CALA’s Philip Wright said at the September meeting that the financial cost of an off-road route would make the project unviable – and the firm has now appealed against the refusal of access through Holwell, as well as making two more applications for the same route.

John Burden, of Holwell Against CALA Traffic, said CALA had dismissed the off-road option over concerns about rights of way – and this week told the Comet that the landowner was willing to co-operate with the developer.

John said: “The route just passes over fields, much of it along an existing track, and as a whole passes very few buildings once it leaves Hitchin. We have been assured by the Highways Authority that in principle mitigation measures can be put in place to safeguard rights of way, archaeology and ecology.

“Unlike the village roads through Pirton and Holwell, two HGVs can pass each other safely along the whole of this route without the need for significant mitigation measures. In stark contrast, this would certainly be needed for the sub-standard lane through Holwell.”

He added: “Even at the September planning control meeting, two councillors stated they knew it was wrong but still voted for the Holwell route against their better judgement.

“Let’s hope that next time the councillors will have the courage of their convictions and that common sense will prevail.”

Ahead of the next committee meeting on December 14, district council planning officer Simon Ellis has recommended refusal for CALA’s latest application for access through Holwell.

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