North Herts Local Plan battle hots up amid Wymondley Green Belt dispute

Adrian Hawkins.

Adrian Hawkins. - Credit: Archant

The battle for Wymondley parish’s future is hotting up, with villagers keen to protect existing Green Belt – and puzzled by what they say is an attempt by North Herts District Council to “cut off” part of their area.

The council has until 2017 to put together a local plan for development in its area up until 2031. Its draft plan would see 300 new homes on Green Belt south and west of Little Wymondley, doubling the village’s size.

Surveys carried out by Wymondley Parish Council indicate that 92 per cent of respondents wish to see the existing Green Belt preserved, with only 24 per cent comfortable with anything more than 50 new houses in the parish.

Adrian Hawkins, chairman of the Wymondley Parish Neighbourhood Planning Forum, says roads and schools would not be able to cope with an extra 300 homes, and that the added water runoff would exacerbate the existing flood risk in the village.

Mr Hawkins acknowledges that more homes are needed in North Herts, but says that a more practical solution would be a new garden city north of Ashwell.

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Parish councils can apply to have a neighbourhood plan area designated, specifying how locals would prefer developers to build. Seven North Herts parishes have had plans approved so far, and St Paul’s Walden is now applying.

Wymondley Parish Council is pushing for a neighbourhood plan covering all of Wymondley parish, which spans Little and Great Wymondley, Redcoats Green, Todds Green and Tidmore Green, with a south-eastern border right up next to Stevenage.

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But district council officers want to exclude the southern tip of the parish – Green Belt on the western side of the A1(M) near Junction 8, next to Stevenage. They say this slice of land “falls within the West Stevenage area” and is “safeguarded land for possible longer-term development”.

An “alternative neighbourhood plan area” map published by the district has this slice of Wymondley parish shaded over and marked “suggested excluded area”.

Plans for 3,600 new homes west of Stevenage and the motorway, on Green Belt land administered by North Herts District Council were tabled from 2001 until the developers withdrew their application in 2013.

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