Letchworth residents form committee to combat 1,000-home plan

The proposed site for the housing development is placed in the narrow boundary between the north of

The proposed site for the housing development is placed in the narrow boundary between the north of Letchworth GC and Stotfold. Credit: Steve Paffett - Credit: Archant

A committee has been formed to combat plans to build 1,000 homes on Green Belt land north of the Grange estate in Letchworth.

The decision was made at a meeting attended by residents and councillors from North Herts District Council last week.

Trustees at the Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation put forward the housing proposal to be considered for inclusion in North Hertfordshire District Council’s Local Plan in December of last year.

If the proposal is included in NHDC’s adopted Local Plan, which aims to provide 10,700 new homes across the area by 2031, further consultation will take place later this year.

Ellen Barnes, who resigned from the Heritage Foundation after the charitable organisation supported the application, is among those to join the committee. Speaking at the meeting, held at the Grange Community Centre in Middlefields, she said: “Letchworth is the jewel in the crown as the world’s first garden city. The Heritage Foundation go around the world singing the praises of garden cities, while at home they are supporting proposals that will destroy aspects of the design of our garden city. If these plans go ahead we are selling off the family silver by building on Green Belt land.”

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Steve Paffett, who lives in Avocet, Letchworth, handed over a paper and online petition containing more than 1,000 signatures to the Heritage Foundation in December calling for the proposals to be scrapped.

After joining the committee, he said: “The Ebenezer Howard concept and principals of Letchworth would be wiped out by this socially destructive proposal. We feel like our voices were ignored by the Heritage Foundation so now we need more numbers and fresh ideas. Nick Clegg proposes to build more garden cities, but what about what’s happening to the first one?”

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NHDC councillors Lorna Kercher and David Kearns also spoke.

Councillor Kercher, chairman of Letchworth area committee, said: “We must remember that Jackmans and the Grange were built on Green Belt land. So we can’t be selfish and say we’ve got our houses so never mind about anyone else.

“But there are issues with infrastructure. There is a lack of parking in Letchworth. Are there enough schools and doctors for the 1,000 homes? I am not totally against the building of the houses, but I am not totally for it until I see what the infrastructure will be.”

Councillor Kearns, who lives on the Grange, said: “Central government instructs local councils to develop a plan for their areas to deal with the housing problem, and there is a need to build houses in North Hertfordshire. But there are certainly traffic concerns here and they may have to build a multi-storey car park.”

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