Decision imminent for 800 homes plan on Stevenage’s Forster Country

Plans to build 800 homes on land in Stevenage known as Forster Country have been approved for a second time. Picture...

Plans to build 800 homes on land in Stevenage known as Forster Country have been approved for a second time. Picture: Brendan Falvey. - Credit: Archant

A controversial planning application to build 800 homes and a primary school on swathes of countryside with historical and cultural significance is set to be determined – for a second time - tomorrow.

Plans for the huge development on Stevenage’s Forster Country – land between North Road and Weston Road, which includes author EM Forster’s childhood home Rooks Nest House, Grade I-listed St Nicholas Church and Grade II-listed The Bury – were initially approved by Stevenage Borough Council in February, despite hundreds of objections, with concerns including urban coalescence, loss of heritage, and the development being unsustainable.

A hold was put on the application by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, while he considered it himself.

The hold was lifted in June when the Secretary of State decided the application was for SBC to determine, but by this time the February permission no longer conformed to planning rules, so the application will be considered again at SBC’s planning committee meeting tomorrow night.

The council’s planning officers are still recommending that the plans are approved, saying “the proposal would result in less than substantial harm in terms of the character and appearance of the Conservation Area and the setting of nearby listed buildings”.


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Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland, who staunchly opposes the proposed development, says the plans are “unjustifiable”, will put huge pressure on services and do not align with the National Planning Policy Framework.

Members of the Friends of Forster Country – a campaign group formed in 1988 with the aim “to preserve for all time the open green space known as Forster Country” – have been fighting the planning application, but chairman John Spiers has said “it seems the future is bleak”.

You can watch the planning committee meeting, which starts at 6.30pm tomorrow, on the borough council’s YouTube channel youtube.com/user/SBCComms

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