Major Stevenage expansion ruled out

A plan to greatly expand Stevenage by building 20,000 new homes by 2026 has been dealt a deadly blow after the case was thrown out by a planning inspector.

Council plans to build the houses, half of which would have been built across its borders in North Herts, were rejected as undeliverable this week. The inspector ruled that North Herts Distrist Council does not have to plan for the growth of the town into its boundary, a move necessary for the plan to go ahead.

Apart from a development to the west of the town, which has planning permission for 3,600 homes, the wider expansion plans are no longer feasible.

John Gardner, executive member for environment and regeneration at the council blamed neighbours North Herts District Council for not backing their plans.

“We are very disappointed at the inspector’s decision and at the lack of co-operation from our neighbouring authority in the implementation of our housing and employment growth proposals.

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“Housing is one of the main priorities for the council and for people in Stevenage. We currently have around 6,900 people in Stevenage waiting for homes and our waiting list increases by 100 people each month.

“Stevenage needs housing growth in order to sustain the local economy to the benefit of the community. Schemes like the regeneration of the town centre and the neighbourhood centres are inextricably linked to the growth of the town.

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“The need to meet the housing needs of local people and increase the economic prosperity of Stevenage remains at the heart of our planning objectives. We will continue to concentrate our efforts on meeting these objectives.”

Tom Brindley, portfolio holder for planning and enterprise at NHDC, said the authority had always opposed the plans which were based on top down housing targets imposed by the last Government.

“These targets took no account of development being either sustainable or deliverable and did not relate to meeting local needs,” he said.

“Stevenage Borough Council is seeking to attribute the rejection of their core strategy on North Hertfordshire District Council as we have suspended work on the Stevenage and North Herts Area Action Plan following the announcement by central Government that it intends to revoke the Regional Spatial Strategies.

“North Hertfordshire District Council has taken the right and proper steps to review its position in relation to the impending change in national legislation, as it was so opposed to the level of growth that the previous Government were requiring Local Authorities to accommodate.

“Requiring 15,800 to be built within North Hertfordshire, without the necessary infrastructure improvements that would be needed, would be a catastrophe to the Green Belt, our local environment and the infrastructure in the area, which is already suffering badly. We believe Stevenage can meet its own housing need for the foreseeable future within its own administration boundaries.

“My council will shortly be considering its approach to meeting development needs over the next twenty years. I can assure you that North Hertfordshire District Council is supportive of sustainable and deliverable development to meet local needs and we will be promoting that in the forthcoming consultation on our own Local Development Framework.”

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