New threat to Green Belt battle ground 'imminent'

AN area of Green Belt that has become a battleground between neighbouring councils is under renewed threat by developers as a new housing plan is declared imminent. The area of North Herts countryside to the east of Luton, which has been at the centre of

AN area of Green Belt that has become a battleground between neighbouring councils is under renewed threat by developers as a new housing plan is declared imminent.

The area of North Herts countryside to the east of Luton, which has been at the centre of a housing fight across the county border, is the focus of a new 1,000 home planning application. Developer Bloor Homes said it will apply to North Herts District Council within days.

The news comes in the week that Luton Borough Council officially dropped support for a larger development of 5,500 homes in the area after cabinet members voted in support of a full council motion opposing the scheme.

Bloor Homes was behind this original plan, commissioned by members of a Luton and Mid Beds joint planning committee, to meet housing targets in the two districts. But now the company has struck out on its own, without waiting for official council backing.


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A company spokesman said the new plan had been made after considering the response to the original scheme. Despite massive resistance by the public, politicians, action groups and now one of the original backers, he said the company still considered it the "most appropriate place" for expansion.

The new plans would see Luton expand east from Wigmore to Cockernhoe, Mangrove Green and Tea Green.

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Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, who is opposed to any development in the area and is trying to close a loophole in the law which would allow any cross border building scheme, said: "This is a smaller development than the one originally put forward, and the developers tell me they do not intend to extend house building further east into the Lilley valley.

Even so, I remain very afraid that this is just the thin end of the wedge. The proposal would create zones on the outskirts of Luton which other developers would soon hope to fill in.

"Apart from the loss of a swathe of beautiful English countryside supposedly protected as Green Belt, such a development threatens the essential character and identity of these individual settlements.

"There should be no prospect at all of building in North Hertfordshire to meet their housing targets.

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