New threat to green belt - Hitchin

MORE plans have been unveiled that put pressure on Green Belt land in the Hitchin area - including proposals for a massive housing development and a bypass to the west of the town. North Herts District Council (NHDC) released plans on Monday for 126 poss

MORE plans have been unveiled that put pressure on Green Belt land in the Hitchin area - including proposals for a massive housing development and a bypass to the west of the town.

North Herts District Council (NHDC) released plans on Monday for 126 possible development sites across the district including 74 in the wider Hitchin area ranging in size from less than a quarter of a hectare to almost 400.

The sites, including playing fields, allotments, woods and agricultural land were proposed by landowners and developers as part of a consultation on 159 potential development sites last year.

The council invited new schemes to help meet government targets outlined in the controversial East of England Plan for 6,200 new homes in the district by 2021.


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The so-called Land Allocation plans include proposals to build houses on 396 hectares (equivalent to 326 cricket pitches) of farmland and woodland to the west of Hitchin as well as create a south-west bypass linking the A602 with the A505.

As well as farmland to the west, Charlton, St Ippolyts and Gosmore could be swallowed up if the proposals go ahead.

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The plans have caused anger among groups and residents in the town.

Steve Barley, spokesman for the West Hitchin Action Group, said: "Their suggested use to create a Hitchin bypass and additional housing would create a swathe of development through vast areas of agricultural and green belt land. We are vehemently opposed to any development on green belt as this would destroy the character of our town and we believe Hitchin does not need the level of expansion these sites indicate. We will be campaigning strongly for these sites to be excluded from the final Land Allocations preferred list."

Bearton Green resident, Paul Summers, said: "I am surprised by the size of it. And there is no route shown for the bypass. It also borders on the nature reserve area of Oughton Head. I wonder if this is some sort of back way of expanding the town without going through all the normal channels."

While Chris Parker, chairman of Keep Hitchin Special, was concerned about the loss of the town cricket and hockey pitch if the scheme were to go ahead.

Tom Brindley, NHDC planning and transport portfolio holder, said: "This development needs to be sustainable in order to make North Herts a pleasant place to live and work, now and in the future. Your input on how to achieve that is extremely valuable to us."

A public consultation on the plans closes on September 14. Councillors will then choose their preferred options from all 285 sites early next year before opening another round of consultation.

To view the full list of proposed sites and have your say, go to www.north-herts.gov.uk. Or respond by emailing ldfconsultations@northherts.gov.uk or by post to NHDC, LDF Team, Council Offices, Gernon Road, Letchworth GC, SG6 3JF.

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