North Herts green belt ‘invasion’ gets reprieve

A CONTROVERSIAL Bedfordshire regeneration project which proposed to build on green belt land in North Hertfordshire has suffered a major setback, after the strategy was scrapped.

A joint core strategy between Luton and Central Beds councils suggested, among other things, an expansion to the east of Century Park, which would have impacted on land within North Herts.

But due to concerns expressed by the planning inspector, a decision was made by the chairman of the joint planning committee to withdraw it.

The proposals had been refuted by North Herts District Council (NHDC), residents in the area and MP Peter Lilley.

Cllr David Barnard, who has campaigned against the proposals, said that he hoped the move would result in the committee looking to the west of Luton for development.

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He added: “The joint committee will go back to investigating all sites. My feelings on that are by all means come back, but we know we have a robust case which will stand to the test.

“We will continue to co-operate with the joint committee, but co-operation does not mean we will ultimately agree with the plans.

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“One thing that was mentioned was to investigate the possibility of development to the west of Luton, which I’ve always maintained is the better option.”

NHDC, which has always stated there was a strong environmental case against the proposed development, said that it would continue to work with authorities in Luton and Central Beds following the decision.

“NHDC acknowledges the resolution and affirms its commitment to continue to cooperate with both authorities on their future plans,” said Cllr Tom Brindley, NHDC portfolio holder for planning, transport and enterprise.

“While we remain committed to co-operating with all neighbouring authorities, co-operation does not imply agreement to their plans.

“We will continue to defend our green belt against inappropriate development, while working with our neighbours to ensure sustainable development in both housing and employment areas.”

A spokesman from LBC said: “The timescale to prepare the Core Strategy now appears inadequate to incorporate changes Luton feels are necessary to include housing to the West of Luton, and the scale of change would be outside the range acceptable to the inspector for consideration at the examination in public.

“The executive agreed the most appropriate course of action is to request the secretary of state to withdraw the current Core Strategy, and for the preparation of a replacement strategy, to include sustainable development to the west of Luton, to begin urgently.”

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