Letchworth residents hand over petition in Green Belt land protest
- Credit: Archant
Residents have handed over a petition calling for a proposal to build 1,000 homes on Green Belt land to be scrapped.
Houses could be built on land north of the Grange Estate in Letchworth GC as part of a larger North Herts District Council plan to provide 10,700 new homes across the area by 2031.
A paper and online petition – which together contain more than 1,000 signatures – have been given to landowners Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation in protest, after the organisation held a 12-day exhibition asking for residents’ views on the idea.
The petition calls on the Heritage Foundation to build new towns rather than join existing ones together in a move described as socially destructive and directly opposed to the principals of Letchworth GC founder Ebenezer Howard.
Steve Paffett, who lives in Avocet, Letchworth GC, handed over the paper petition.
The 58-year-old said: “My garden backs onto the fields so this decision affects me hugely. This is Britain’s first garden city and it is the perfect space for people to escape from their back gardens, to run, cycle and walk their dogs. Areas like this give the town a cuddle, and for it to vanish would be a tragedy. I go flying over the area, and I can see that the boundary between the north of Letchworth and the sprawl from Stotfold is exceptionally narrow.
“If these houses are built, there will be more kids hanging around in gangs rather than burning off energy in the open space, and crime will increase. The population will rise, meaning more crammed spaces occupied by unhappy families.”
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A total of 673 people visited the exhibition, which was held at the The Community Hub in Station Road and finished on Friday.
Mr Paffett added: “We were delighted that the Heritage Foundation opened up this period of time in which they listened to what the people had to say. But I think the Heritage Foundation don’t really know what to do and that’s why we were consulted. I don’t think they expected the backlash.”
John Lewis, chief executive of the Heritage Foundation, said: “We recognise this is an important moment in the development of Letchworth and that some residents have legitimate concerns about this proposal.”
Once the results of the consulation have been analysed, further discussions are due to take place with North Herts District Council in January.