Village fights homes plan

AN ACTION group organiser has predicted the biggest demonstration a town has seen outside council offices to stop a planned housing developments going ahead. Tim Franklin, organiser of the Graveley group, believes areas across Stevenage and North Herts

AN ACTION group organiser has predicted "the biggest demonstration a town has seen" outside council offices to stop a planned housing developments going ahead.

Tim Franklin, organiser of the Graveley group, believes areas across Stevenage and North Herts pinpointed as options for developments may unite in the fight against extra housing and gipsy sites in the near future.

The fourth generation farmer has organised a petition against the moves set out in the homebuilding project Stevenage and North Herts Action Plan (SNAP).

The SNAP consultation document covers five areas - location, appearance and quality, facilities and infrastructure, sustainability and gipsy and traveller site provision.

Mr Franklin said: "If people care about keeping Graveley as a village with a separate identity they should respond to the SNAP document.

"This is probably the biggest threat to Graveley we have ever known and it's up to us to do our best to preserve it."

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At an open day at Graveley Village Hall on Sunday Mr Franklin said: "I think the influence on the wildlife and surrounding areas will be far bigger from the development of houses than a gipsy site.

"I wouldn't welcome it, but I think it's the lesser of the two evils.

"What would you rather have, a gipsy site that occupies half an acre or eight acres of housing?"

He added: "Already the traffic is so busy in the mornings people find it difficult to get to work on time and, with another 16,000 homes, everything would grind to a halt."

Graveley councillor Sal Jarvis said: "There is a real risk that Graveley will be swallowed by Stevenage.

"Although the options for building don't wash right over Graveley they do go right up to the edge of the village on more than one side.

"Given that the stated aims of the two councils (North Herts and Stevenage) is to avoid coalescence of Stevenage with neighbouring settlements this is bizarre indeed - more so because Graveley is not the only village under threat.

"Little Wymondley is similarly affected and building up to these two villages around junction 8, with industrial land and housing would create the most appalling urban sprawl."

Tomorrow (Friday) is the cut-off point for people to have their say on SNAP. Responses to the document can be made online at www.steve nage.gov.uk, libraries or at the offices of North Herts and Stevenage councils.

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