Local plan blueprint for homes in North Herts is put back again

Councillor David Levett

Councillor David Levett - Credit: Archant

Delivery of the controversial draft of the Local Plan blueprint for housing development across North Herts has now been put back until next summer.

The plan – expected to be completed before Christmas – sets out North Herts District Council’s preferred options for the allocation of housing requirements until 2031.

The delay until next July, revealed at a cabinet meeting of the district council on Tuesday evening, will result in the report not being ready for a further seven months.

A clearly disappointed David Levett, the councillor responsible for presenting the plan following the Local Plan Preferred Options consultation, said at the meeting: “We had hoped to submit the report before Christmas, but unfortunately it will not now be ready until July.

“No-one is more disappointed than me that July is now going to be the earliest date for submitting the plan.

“My team an I have worked so hard on this, so we are all very disappointed. But the plan is such an important issue we simply have to get it right – and we would rather a delay of a few months than present something that would not work.

“I have to stress the date for submission has to be next July.

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“It is the ‘drop dead’ date. If we don’t do it by then, it will mean that we won’t ever be able to do it.”

Processing the huge numbers of responses during the consultation period, which saw more 8,500 individuals, business and developers have their say on the project during the period the public was encouraged to have their say, along with changes in government policy relating to the plan, helped contribute to the extra delay.

Hitchin Forum chairman Bill Sellicks told the Comet: “We understand the reasons for the delay in submission of the draft Local Plan.

“We hope the delay will allow time for a more considered response to the large number of submissions from local people and result in a stronger vision of the development of North Herts for the next 16 years.”

Councillor Michael Weeks, who is on the Baldock area committee, added: “It is good that the people of Baldock have responded in such numbers, which shows the strength of feeling in the town.

“I am sure that the campaigners will be pleased that their efforts have caused concern at the district council and that more time will be taken to deal with their responses – which were huge in number when compared with other districts.”

However, not all were satisfied at the delay. Councillor Frank Radcliffe, North Herts Labour group leader, said: “I’m very disappointed – people need new homes now.”

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