West of Stevenage housing plans back on the agenda

West of Stevenage

West of Stevenage - Credit: Archant

PLANS to build 3,600 homes to the west of Stevenage could be back on the agenda, after an inquiry was reopened.

The plans were quashed by a High Court judge in 2011, who overturned Government planning permission from 2009 for the development.

It was a decision which relieved North Herts District Council (NHDC), which owns most of the land.

But, last week, authorities learned a planning inquiry had been reopened, after being sent a letter from the secretary of state.

Councillors described it as a “shock”, and said they were still trying to establish the facts.

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But Cllr Sharon Taylor, leader of Stevenage Borough Council, also said she was pleased the plans were being put back on the table.

“Our position generally hasn’t changed. We are desperately short of housing in Stevenage,” she told the Comet.

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“We were surprised, but I think that just shows the Government do have some commitment to the economy and I hope the council get the economy going by helping.

“We would certainly be very keen to along [to a hearing] and give our evidence, because we have a clear rationale for that development, as we always have.”

The houses, if planning permission was given, would be built on land between Todd’s Green and Norton Green – situated between Stevenage and Wymondley – and would be accompanied by shops and leisure and community facilities.

In the letter, the secretary of state says the proposals “respond to a need for housing”, and claims the need for housing “will not go away”.

But Cllr Tom Brindley, planning portfolio holder at NHDC, questioned the plans.

NHDC and the county council have always been opposed to the proposals.

“We have always argued houses there are the wrong place and would be to the detrimental to the wellbeing of people living nearby. We don’t believe they are necessary, that stance hasn’t changed,” said Cllr Brindley, whose ward is Codicote. “What we also feel is that it would be inappropriate to open the inquiry until after we have completed our housing consultation.”

Both councils are seeking further clarification, as it is not clear yet what the public inquiry will entail.

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