'This will have a huge impact on the countryside' – Campaigners step up protest against thousands of new homes planned for Green Belt land in North Herts
PUBLISHED: 10:15 24 November 2016 | UPDATED: 10:15 24 November 2016
Outraged campaigners who fear councils will sanction plans to build thousands of homes eating into North Hertfordshire’s Green Belt land are planning to stage a mass protest.
The protest is being organised by the Save North Herts Green Belt group and takes place at North Herts District Council’s headquarters in Letchworth on November 30.
It happens on the same day the council’s final consultation on its Local Plan ends before it is sent to the government for consideration.
The campaigners say they fear people are not aware how much of the planned development would affect Green Belt land, particularly plans for 600 homes at a site to the north of the Great Ashby area of Stevenage – called GA2.
A large part of Great Ashby falls under the jurisdiction of North Herts District Council, despite being part of Stevenage.
Other sites include 300 more homes at the existing Great Ashby site, GA1, and 900 homes at Graveley – known as NS1.
The council has to build a total of 14,000 new homes in the district by 3031. Other sites include 2,800 dwellings north of Baldock, 900 north of Letchworth, 700 dwellings east of Hitchin, and 660 in Knebworth.
Campaigner Nikki Hamilton, who leads the Green Belt group, said: “When we knocked on doors 75 per cent of people were not aware of the GA2 development.
“NHDC like to keep things as hidden as possible, it would seem.
“This will have a huge impact on the countryside used by many for health benefits and social relaxation, and dog walking. The wildlife is amazing and will be destroyed.
“There will be further pressure on the doctors, dentists and the waiting lists for the hospital and the district council are looking to use the existing residential streets for access to GA1 and GA2.
Stevenage Borough Council also has to build 7,600 homes within its district and has submitted sites to the north, west and south of Stevenage.
Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland has lent his support to the campaign.
The protest will take place at NHDC’s offices in Gernon Road, Letchworth, from 12 noon to 2pm. Comments can be made online at www.north-herts.gov.uk/localplan.