Plans for 42 homes on Norton playing field on hold after report raises issues
- Credit: Archant
Plans to build 42 dwellings on the former Norton School playing fields in Letchworth – as well as an access road off one of the last remaining country lanes in the town – have been temporarily put on hold following an independent report which raised a number of issues.
The development, known as LG10 in the North Herts District Council Local Plan, would create 42 homes on the land between Croft Lane and Cashio Lane.
However, the plans have been met with concerns since their inception, particularly with the access route via Croft Lane – which neighbours say would disturb the character of the narrow road.
Planners attempted to compromise by moving the Croft Lane access road further away from number 18 – which is a Grade-II listed farmhouse – and by adding a two-metre pedestrian footpath on its eastern side.
READ MORE: Revised proposal fails to convince objectors as Letchworth development loomsNow, the Norton Action Group – which formed in 2017 – has commissioned an independent report to analyse the latest amendments and the plan from Hertfordshire County Council, to approve the housing.
Following representation from county councillor for the area, Simon Bloxham, to the resources and performance portfolio holder and leader of the council, the application has been put on hold pending further investigations.
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A number of issues were highlighted in this report including the impact on listed buildings in the area, the lack of suitable roads and pedestrian routes, environmental concerns and the protection of a conservation area with historically significant buildings.
A spokesman for Norton Action Group said: “The applicant has acknowledged that there will be damage to the lane during the construction phase for LG10, but is still keen to press ahead with this executive home development, irrespective of the consequences to the foundations of the historic houses or trees next to the proposed entrance on what is now the last remaining lane in Letchworth.
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“To that end, as a community of over 200 members, we’ve commissioned and funded independent Transport, Arboriculture and Environmental reports – which can be accessed on the planning portal.
“As a group we’re not opposed to sensible housing proposals, but the focus on concreting over every spare bit of green space in North Letchworth – especially around Norton Village – is excessive and isn’t in line with ONS housing needs or infrastructure for this area.
“So, we are relieved that Herts County Council have acknowledged that there are issues with LG10 and are taking time to re-evaluate this application in light of the flawed access arrangements.
“Croft Lane is one of those very rare places that has managed to remain unspoilt in over 100 years. During lockdown, more than ever we continue to see generations of residents and pedestrians from all across Letchworth and surrounding areas flock to this safe and tranquil place.
“While we must look to the future, we can also ensure that we protect our conservation area – not only to benefit the town’s heritage, but also to ensure there’s still some green space remaining to aid the health and wellbeing of the community.”
Councillor Bloxham said: “I have lived in the garden city for over 50 years and have used the roads affected many times. My wife went to Norton School and knows the sports field very well.
“The size and make up of both Cashio and Croft Lanes are simply not designed to accommodate this additional housing and the vehicles that will use them and furthermore cannot be successfully altered without causing significant damage and loss to listed buildings and extremely old trees and vegetation in the area.
“Objections to the planning application had been made but it I was able to convince the council that this application really does need a rethink.
“The battle isn’t over, but at least a fair hearing can be given to the concerns raised following the fantastic hard work put in by the Norton Action Group.”
A Herts county council spokesman said: “In March 2019 the County Council as landowner submitted planning application 19/00520/OP to North Herts District Council for up to 42 dwellings between Croft Lane and Cashio Lane.
“Progress with the application was delayed whilst questions raised by the highway authority and North Herts Conservation Officer were addressed. These matters are now being resolved.”
The group has also been fighting for a crossing on Norton Road to ensure that children and parents can safely get across to Norton St Nicholas School.
READ MORE: ‘Kill your speed not our kids’ signs displayed in Letchworth as bid for crossing is unsuccessfulThis is also being supported by Councillor Bloxham who has used a significant amount of his highways budget to get a design drawn up.
To view the planning application, go to north-herts.gov.uk/home/planning/view-or-comment-planning-application and search 19/00520/OP.