Decision on 42 homes at Norton playing fields deferred for second time

A map showing how the new development between Norton Road, Cashio Lane and Croft Lane in Letchworth

A map showing how the new development between Norton Road, Cashio Lane and Croft Lane in Letchworth might look - Credit: Herts County Council

An application for up to 42 new homes on the former Norton School playing field site in Letchworth has been deferred for a second time, as councillors seek clarification over access from Herts Highways.

The proposals by Vincent and Gorbing would see homes built on the land between Croft Lane and Cashio Lane, with access via Croft Lane, and is in close proximity to a number of buildings of local interest and listed buildings.

The North Herts District Council planning committee heard of the application once again in Thursday meeting, with concerns raised regarding increased traffic and the safety of pedestrians -  as the proposed access in Croft Lane is without a footpath in places, and is narrower than Highways' requirements.

The development has been opposed by the Norton Action Group since it's inception, with campaigners aiming to protect the conservation area in Croft Lane and Cashio Lane.

Lisa Wallman spoke in objection to the application on behalf of Norton Action Group chair Kevin Hinton.

She said: "At the public consultation, Vincent Gorbing stated that the access was the Achilles heel of the application.

"Croft Lane is 3.8 metres at it's narrowest with no footpaths for 220 metres towards Norton Road. According to the traffic report, the development would increase vehicular movement by 350 per cent from 8am to 9am - precisely the time families are walking children to school.

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"The proposed use of Croft Lane to access this development will detract from this historic lane that we are proud to live in, it will harm the setting of heritage buildings and their foundations, leading to a loss of trees, wildlife, and prejudice our living conditions, with a harmful impact on the environment.

"The impact on the conservation area has not been properly considered in this application and is not outweighed by the benefits of the proposals. I therefore urge you to refuse the application on highways grounds, and on conservation, environmental and heritage impacts."

Nathan Hanks, from Director Transport Planning Associates, also spoke against the proposals, citing that Herts County Council Highways had initially objected due to the narrow access of Croft Lane. An objection which has since been lifted. 

Councillors Daniel Allen and Simon Bloxham also spoke as member advocates against the application.

Claire Newbury - from Vincent & Gorbing - spoke on behalf of the developer in support, stating: "Detailed and lengthy discussions have taken place with planning  officers at North Herts, and Highways to develop at scheme that is safe in highways terms and minimises impact on the conservation area."

Following the debate, councillor Tony Hunter proposed to defer the decision in order to schedule a time to discuss the matter with HCC Highways present to answer questions. The motion was seconded by Cllr Terry Tyler, and later carried by six votes to four.

Cllr Michael Muir also proposed to refuse, on highways and safety grounds, seconded by Cllr Sue Ngwala.