Massive blow to Green Belt invasion
PLANS to build on a massive area of North Herts Green Belt were thrown into chaos this week as one of the authorities involved called for the scheme to be scrapped. In a surprise move, the Labour controlled Luton Borough Council (LBC) decided on Tuesday
PLANS to build on a massive area of North Herts Green Belt were thrown into chaos this week as one of the authorities involved called for the scheme to be scrapped.
In a surprise move, the Labour controlled Luton Borough Council (LBC) decided on Tuesday night to unanimously drop plans to build thousands of homes on countryside across their borders.
The scheme to build 5,500 houses and associated infrastructure to the east of Luton in the Lilley valley would not only destroy a valuable area of North Herts countryside, but cause traffic chaos in Hitchin and the surrounding area.
An LBC spokesman said the council strongly opposed the plan due to insurmountable traffic problems and the quality of the environment.
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"The land to the east of Luton is an exceptionally attractive landscape offering much needed breathing space for residents of both Luton and the rural area.
"None of the access roads are capable of any significant improvement - congestion experienced every day shows that the only possible access points cannot cope with the traffic they carry now and adding another 5,500 families can only produce morning and evening traffic jam nightmares." She said.
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The move means that the joint planning committee set up to meet government housing targets in Luton and Central Beds, made up of six councillors from Luton and six from Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC), is now split.
The committee up until now has pushed forward with the plan, despite huge opposition from affected residents, MPs, North Herts District Council (NHDC) and Herts County Council.
The remaining members on the committee, all Conservative Central Beds councillors, must now decide whether to keep supporting the plan.
David Barnard, NHDC southern rural committee chairman, who has attended the committee meetings on behalf of the district council, said: "The massive drive to the east of Luton is now in doubt. We have been banging long and hard that the transport infrastructure is totally ineffectual to deal with that level of traffic.
"The danger that we now face is that the other six members represent areas around Luton that have their own Green Belt. If they join the vote against the east of Luton it could be moved to their areas. It would be like turkeys voting for Christmas.
"My glass is half full, but we still have a lot of work to do.