‘Bitter disappointment’ as bid fails to stop 600 homes plan at Gresley Park near Stevenage
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
People against plans for 618 homes, a primary and pre-school, an 80-bed care home and up to 50 assisted living homes on the outskirts of Stevenage “will be bitterly disappointed and angered” that an 11th hour bid to stop the development has failed.
The development also includes shops, community facilities, a site for travelling showpeople and a spine road on the agricultural land to the east of Stevenage, on Gresley Way – between Fairlands Way and Lanterns Lane.
More than 1,200 people objected to the plans, with concerns including traffic congestion, insufficient infrastructure and loss of the Beane Valley view, but the site lies entirely within the East Herts District Council boundary and EHDC granted planning permission in February.
However, Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland successfully appealed to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, to put a hold on the application and consider calling it in to determine himself.
The Secretary of State has now removed the hold and EHDC’s decision to approve the application stands.
Campaigner Stephen Sypula, of activist group Protecting Aston’s Community Existence, said: “With justification, thousands of residents on both sides of the boundary will be bitterly disappointed and angered by the decision not to call-in the planning application and have their reasoned comments and suggested modifications independently considered.
“The development will create huge disruption and create traffic chaos for years to come. It’s a sad day for democracy.”
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Mr McPartland added: “My request for a call-in was always a long shot, but I am proud to stand up for local people and our environment. It is disappointing our local council has not listened to local people, and we all know these homes will not go to local people.”
Councillor Robin Parker, who represents the Chells Manor ward on Stevenage Borough Council, is against the plans and said the latest decision is “a kick in the teeth for the thousands of campaigners who were motivated to oppose this awful plan”.
A spokesman for developer Pigeon said: “The scheme has been carefully designed to create a high-quality landscape-led sustainable new neighbourhood, fully in accordance with the adopted East Herts District Plan, and the East of Stevenage Masterplan Vision Document, following extensive community engagement.
“It has been designed to deliver significant infrastructure, on and off-site, including highway improvements along with extensive new pedestrian/cycle routes and a central bus-only egress onto Gresley Way to support a new bus service.
“At its heart, a vibrant multi-generational neighbourhood hub will be delivered comprising local shops, care home, assisted living specialist accommodation, a pre and primary school, extensive open space and community facilities.
“Notwithstanding the scheme’s delivery of much-needed new homes, including a significant proportion of affordable housing, over 12 hectares of green infrastructure is provided for the community.”
Stevenage Borough Council, which did not object to the principle of a development on this land during preparation of the East Herts District Plan, declined to comment.