Uncertain reception for former Letchworth school fields housing plan

A map showing how the new development between Norton Road, Cashio Lane and Croft Lane in Letchworth

A map showing how the new development between Norton Road, Cashio Lane and Croft Lane in Letchworth might look. Picture: Herts County Council - Credit: Archant

Illustrative plans to build up to 42 homes on former school playing fields were exhibited yesterday in Letchworth – and received a lukewarm reaction from neighbours.

Hertfordshire County Council is set to seek planning permission later this month to develop the site it owns between Norton Road, Croft Lane and Cashio Lane, which was used for sports by Norton School until its closure in 2003.

The county council intends to sell the site to a developer once it has outline planning permission from North Herts District Council – which has earmarked the site for housing in its submission draft Local Plan.

The presentation shown at yesterday’s exhibition describes its content as merely illustrative, and has been drawn up for the county council by Stevenage-based planners Vincent and Gorbing.

It depicts an estate with one entry point for cars – from Croft Lane, on its north side – and a path for walkers and cyclists coming in from Cashio Lane at the south-western corner.

One neighbour who attended the exhibition, and preferred to remain anonymous, told the Comet that she and others had been unimpressed by the vagueness of the presentation and the failures of officers to answer basic questions about it.

She said: “On the surface it seems quite reasonable, but when we started asking questions they became quite evasive. About the route into the development from Croft Lane, for example – they haven’t considered whether there’ll be a pavement, or if it’ll be wide enough to get a fire engine through.

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“We’d thought it was going to be 37 homes, but now they’re saying 42 – and they’re saying that was just illustrative, and that the developer that comes in might build even more. So who knows how many it will be?

“They were just fobbing us off. It’s almost like it was just a show. I’m not averse to change, but we’re just blown away by the lack of thought behind what they were saying.”

A Herts County Council spokesman told the Comet: “We were pleased that so many people took this opportunity to express their opinions and concerns.

“All responses will be evaluated to decide whether any changes need to be made to the proposals before the planning application is finalised.”

The presentation is available to view online until October 4 at vincent-gorbing.co.uk/projects/casestudy.asp?id=3&c=30&p=181.

If you wish to comment ahead of the planning application, fill in the questionnaire attached to the presentation and send it in an envelope marked ‘Former playing fields, Croft Lane consultation’ to: Vincent and Gorbing, Sterling Court, Norton Road, Stevenage, SG1 2JY, by Wednesday, October 4.

The deadline was originally September 21, but the county council announced on September 15 that this had been extended.