Village life in danger

A FARMER and his family in North Herts are deeply concerned about building plans which could leave them facing a compulsory purchase order for their land and, if the order is successful, threaten to absorb the village in which they live. John Cherry and h

A FARMER and his family in North Herts are deeply concerned about building plans which could leave them facing a compulsory purchase order for their land and, if the order is successful, threaten to absorb the village in which they live.

John Cherry and his wife, Joanna, live in Weston and interest in their land for development as part of the East of England Plan, which will see more than 22,000 homes built in Stevenage and North Herts by 2021, has been shown.

Mrs Cherry said: "The current plans mean there's going to be complete coalescence with Stevenage." The family will therefore not sell their land willingly.

"It just feels like we are being bullied into it. It's like David and Goliath," she said.


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But Cllr John Gardner, Stevenage Borough Council's portfolio holder for environment and regeneration, said: "We want to avoid compulsory purchase orders because it's quite a protracted business. We are well away from that stage."

Mrs Cherry said their preferred option is to make Weston bigger by 100 houses. "If we said every village has got to have another 100 houses, we could meet the target," she suggested. "We would much rather make our own villages a more sustainable size rather than have a town engulf us."

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Mrs Cherry has also expressed concerns that there will be a shortage of water if the plans go ahead, and that an additional lane on the A1(M) should be considered to accommodate the increased volume of traffic.

She also claims no one has ever questioned the East of England Plan and the need for more homes. "There are houses up and down the country which are empty and boarded up," she said. "Where is the joined up thinking in that?"

The Cherry family has vowed to get behind a campaign group set up against the proposals, called Weston Against Stevenage Plans (WASP).

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