Planning application for 42 homes on Norton playing field site refused
- Credit: Karyn Haddon
A controversial planning application for a residential development on the former Norton playing fields site in Letchworth has been refused.
The plans, by Vincent and Gorbing, would have seen up to 42 new homes built on land between Croft Lane and Cashio Lane. The site is a conservation area, in close proximity to a number of listed buildings and buildings of local interest.
Addressing a meeting of North Herts District Council's planning control committee last night, planning officer Sam Dicocco said the "significant benefits" of sustainable housing outbalanced the potential harm to the conservation area, which he described as "on the lower end of less than substantial".
Claire Newbury, of Vincent and Gorbing, added that the development "will provide market and affordable housing to meet identified needs within the district".
However, Kevin Hinton - who has lived in Croft Lane for 37 years, and chairs the Norton Action Group, said the proposals would have a harmful impact.
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He said: "The proposed use of Croft Lane to access this development will detract from an historic lane that we are proud to live in, harm the setting of the heritage buildings, lead to a loss of trees and wildlife and prejudice our living conditions with a harmful impact on the environment.
"It will also result in a loss of safety for our families, walkers, cyclists and other users of Croft Lane. This means children waking or cycling to school or walkers to Norton or the Greenway will have additional vehicles to contend with on a lane that is not designed for heavy traffic."
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According to highways experts, the plans would cause a 350 per cent increase in traffic between 8am and 9am, precisely when families are taking children to school.
Cllr Daniel Allen, who represents Letchworth Grange, supported the campaigners. He said: "The main issue is the utter disdain for health and safety and disregard for transparency and honesty that I haven't seen in my time on planning, with giving the information that has been requested."
A decision on the application had previously been deferred twice this year, once in April and once in May.
Out of eight councillors voting on the proposals, four voted against, three voted for and one abstained.