Threatened Green Belt area dropped from regional plan

CAMPAIGNERS against a scheme to expand Luton into North Herts Green Belt are putting the Champagne on ice after the area was removed from the east of England regional plan. Members of the Campaign to Protect Rural England Hertfordshire and Keep East of L

CAMPAIGNERS against a scheme to expand Luton into North Herts Green Belt are putting the Champagne on ice after the area was removed from the east of England regional plan.

Members of the Campaign to Protect Rural England Hertfordshire and Keep East of Luton Green are cautiously celebrating after the East of England Regional Assembly revised its spatial strategy for the future of the region last week.

The news means that the Luton Borough and Central Beds councillors on the joint planning committee responsible for a plan to build 5,500 homes and associated infrastructure in the Lilley valley to the east of Luton are increasingly isolated.

Kevin FitzGerald, director of CPRE Herts, said: "It may be a bit premature to pop the champagne corks, but I think we can put the bottles on ice. Although a decision not to include this in the plan has yet to be confirmed by the joint councils, we have seen the withdrawal of support for this by Luton Borough Council, strong opposition from North Hertfordshire District and Hertfordshire County Councils, and now the decision not to include it in the regional plan.


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"It would be a bizarre decision to go ahead in the face of all this. It would not conform to the regional plan, which would mean it would almost certainly be thrown out by a planning inspector. This is some of the best news we have heard in years for the future of our lovely countryside."

Tom Brindley, planning and transport portfolio holder at NHDC, said the council was encouraged, but remained cautious. "The review is just a draft document and will be the subject of considerable further public consultation. It is therefore not set in stone. However, it appears from the current version that the prospect of substantial housing east of Luton has receded if not disappeared altogether.

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"The document still contains references to 'the south-east employment location adjacent to the airport' and to a 'Luton eastern bypass between Airport Way and the A505'. It may be that both of these are to be located within the boundaries of Luton, but then again they may be proposed, either partly or wholly, within North Herts.

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