Letchworth Heritage Foundation 'committed to open dialogue' over housing development plans
PUBLISHED: 14:56 20 June 2019 | UPDATED: 14:56 20 June 2019
The Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation has said it is "committed to an open and ongoing dialogue with the community" over plans to build houses on land it owns - and says it shares residents' passion for garden city principles.
The foundation's development director has spoken to the Comet in a bid to reassure residents on the the organisation's stance on possible
developments in the town - should North Herts District Council's Local Plan be approved.
The foundation has been met with mixed reactions to its involvement in the housing proposals, but wants to make it clear why it made what is described as a "difficult decision" to put forward land north of the Grange Estate and east of Talbot Way for potential development.
David Ames, executive director for stewardship and development, told the Comet: "We were pleased to recently announce the winning entry of our Re-Imagining the Garden City competition and were impressed by the quality of entries submitted from architectural practices across the globe.
"We were encouraged that so many members of the public took the time to help the judges select a winner and I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who voted and commented for your support and feedback.
"The Foundation encouraged entrants to create design concepts for modern day garden city living, based around the largest site allocated for Letchworth in the council's Local Plan for future housing development - land north of the Grange Estate.
"Should the Grange site be adopted in the Local Plan, we will have an opportunity to benefit from these designs to help shape plans that support our town to be the very best it can be. "We know that housing development is a long and complex process and that the people of Letchworth feel passionately about the future of the town.
"I can reassure you that the foundation shares this passion and commitment to garden city principles.
"As landowner of the two largest sites allocated in the council's Local Plan for future housing development in Letchworth, the land north of the Grange Estate and land east of Talbot Way and Kristiansand Way, we are committed to an open and ongoing dialogue with the community throughout all stages of any future housing development.
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"I'm keen to confirm these sites will only be developed if they are adopted in the Local Plan.
"As a community benefit organisation, the foundation seeks to ensure any surplus generated from the estate, including these housing sites, is reinvested back into the town for the benefit of the community.
"Agreeing to allocate land for the Local Plan was a difficult decision for the foundation and was based on evidence of the need for local housing and to help sustain the long-term future of the town.
"Phase two of our Future of Letchworth community engagement consultation process is now taking place across the town and provides a genuine opportunity for local people to meet with us, find out more information, give feedback on illustrative sketch plans for the largest sites, discuss key topics such as transport, sustainability and ecology and to complete our surveys.
"We're pleased to be engaging with young and old, as well as working age adults, by facilitating these events and holding focus groups at schools and housing facilities for older people.
"Please visit us at these events if you can. We're keen to hear from as many people as possible. If you're not able to make these events, our website, letchworth.com/consultation, has further information, online surveys and advice about how to get involved.
"All feedback received during phase two of our consultation will be formally analysed and published as a report which we'll make available on our website.
"Thank you to everyone who has been involved so far in helping shape our emerging plans and thinking. With your involvement we can capture some of that pioneering spirit from the early days of the garden city, to shape, plan and design housing in Letchworth to be the very best it can be."
The foundation's next engagement event will take place at Armed Forces Day next Saturday, June 29, and Willian Fair on Sunday, June 30.
It will also host an ecology surgery at the One Garden City Offices on Broadway Gardens from 4.30pm to 7.30pm on Thursday, July 11, with an additional event at the Grange Estate - at Stonehill School from 4.30pm to 7.30pm on Tuesday, July 16 - for those who have not been able to attend to date.
To find out more, go to letchworth.com.