Housing plans which could see Baldock double in size leads to campaign against overdevelopment
PUBLISHED: 17:32 24 September 2014 | UPDATED: 17:42 24 September 2014
Housing plans which could see Baldock double in size has led to calls for the town to unite in a campaign against overdevelopment.
Around 300 people from the town turned up to a meeting on Monday night to hear from district councillors, who explained how land surrounding Baldock could be used to build about 5,500 homes.
As part of North Hertfordshire District Council’s Local Plan, the authority is expected to build about 12,000 homes by 2031 – and 45 per cent of those could be in Baldock.
Potential sites, which could include a proposal for 3,500 homes on land north of Baldock and a plan for 45 homes on land east of Clothall Common, will be put forward in a draft version of the Local Plan at a full council meeting on November 27. Once agreed, housing developers will be able to submit planning applications.
Speaking during Monday’s meeting, held at St Mary’s Junior School, Councillor Andrew Young said that the breakdown of houses required for the district could see Hitchin with eight per cent of the total, Royston with 9.5 per cent, Letchworth with 15 per cent and Baldock with 45 per cent, with the remainder going to other parts of North Herts.
He said: “One of the problems in building houses in North Herts is that we have four towns and numerous villages.
“We have always tried to be equal, but for the first time we are worried that there will be inequality as to where these houses are going to go. 45 per cent is a huge chunk to accept as we are the smallest town, so it would have a massive effect on Baldock.
“We are not against housing as we need new housing for our children to live and we need the prices to come down. All we want is for Baldock to get an equitable amount to the other towns and villages. Our fear is that this may not happen.”
Christine Watson, from campaign group Save Rural Baldock, said: “I was shocked that so few people in Baldock appeared to know how big an issue this is. It seems grossly unfair that 45 per cent of the new housing needed by North Herts should be dumped on Baldock while the much larger towns of Hitchin, Letchworth and Royston are supposedly getting between eight and 15 per cent of it.
“The proposal will more or less double our current population of 10,500, bringing with it all sorts of unwelcome changes to the character of our ancient market town, plus requiring huge developments in infrastructure and amenities and destroying vast swathes of Green Belt.
“Surely it’s possible to share this out a bit better? It’s not as if this concentration of housing in one area would best serve the needs of the entire county. Baldock people must unite to fight this inequality, sign the petition and our website – www.saveruralbaldock.co.uk – to share their constructive thoughts.”
Bob Dunn, who has lived in Baldock for 23 years, said: “Herts County Council owns much of the land and they will be able to say that they provide the infrastructure. There is certainly a disparity with how many houses will be built in each town. My main concern is that overdevelopment will completely change the character of the town.”
A consultation on November’s draft Local Plan opens on December 5 and ends on January 30.