No room for a view if Graveley development goes ahead say campaign group

Forster Country

Forster Country - Credit: Archant

A group fighting to protect Graveley from development says other options need to be explored before Green Belt land is built on.

Forster Country

Forster Country - Credit: Archant

The Friends of Forster Country – a group set up in 1989 to protect the rural area north of Stevenage from development – has accused North Herts District Council of failing to seek alternatives after it announced a series of potential large scale developments in the area.

These include building 1,000 homes on undeveloped farm land in the parish of Graveley – something the Friends of Forster County vehemently opposes.

John Spiers, who chairs the group, said: “We are shocked that these proposals have been brought forward.

“Local government minister Eric Pickles said in a statement earlier this month that councils should do everything they can to protect Green Belt and only build on it in exceptional circumstances.

“I do not think this is an exceptional circumstance and other options should be explored. For years there has been talk about developing Stevenage town centre, why can’t more house and flats be built there?

“Forster country inspired EM Forster to write Howard’s End and is a beautiful place we should preserve for the next generation.

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“If this development goes ahead it would be lost, which would be a great shame.”

Councillor David Levett, who oversees the council’s planning and development portfolio, said: “We recognise the concerns of local people in wanting to protect the Green Belt and this is always at the forefront of our minds.

“However, we have to balance this against the needs to provide housing, schools and employment opportunities for our growing population.”

Full plans of the proposed housing sites, including the one in Graveley, will be presented at a meeting of the full council on November 27.

After this a consultation will be opened for the public to have their say before the draft plans go back to the district council for approval.

The council says the

Local Plan blueprint, once confirmed, will help address the area’s housing shortage

by building 12,100 houses by 2031.