‘Will children have to die before dangerous development is halted?’ asks passionate Pirton campaigner ahead of 177 new proposed homes
- Credit: Archant
Pirton villagers came out in force to protest against safety fears arising from the building of 177 proposed new homes, as well as worries the fabric of their village could be altered dramatically.
The picturesque village three miles north-west of Hitchin – which was mentioned in the Doomsday book as Peritone, meaning ‘Homestead of Pears’ – has been earmarked for 78 new CALA Homes properties through an outline planning application.
Concerns were raised as it emerged the developers had no way of getting construction traffic to the site, after heavy vehicles to the site on the eastern edge of Pirton were proposed to go through either that village, nearby Holwell, or both.
The work has been suspended pending further investigation after a Saxon settlement was discovered beneath the present village.
But to the shock of the village’s 1,200 people, an additional planning application for a further 99 homes has been lodged with North Herts District Council – prompting the march on Thursday.
Mum-of-two Emily Dixon, a member of the Pirton Action Group, told the Comet: “We are not Nimbys, and we support sustainable development, but these plans are not sustainable.
“Pirton is under siege from predatory developers exploiting a government loophole to force through excessive and unsustainable development.
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“They also put lives at risk.”
The construction traffic could be directed through winding village lanes 60 times a day for up to three years, leading many parents to say they will stop their children riding bikes and walking to school for fears of accidents.
Emily said: “The plans would mean the village expanding by 33 per cent, which is simply not sustainable.
“During the proposed construction phase it will simply not be safe for our children to walk to school as lorries thunder by.
“We’re already facing three years of 60 lorries a day plus dozens of vans – which will bring chaos, danger and pollution to narrow village roads in Pirton and Holwell. If the second phase gets the go-ahead, the disruption will be much worse.
“There are large areas with no pavement used daily by pedestrians, including countless schoolchildren. Will it really take the death of a child to prove how dangerous this development is?”
Villagers are also worried about the lack of infrastructure and how it will cope in light of such rapid development.
Emily added: “In the long term, how will the area’s already oversubscribed schools, stretched GP surgeries, scant public transport and heavily congested roads cope with this huge extra burden?
“We are also concerned with the lack of proposed affordable housing.”
Somewhere between 80 and 100 villagers, young and old, took part in the march to protect their village, which is sited on Icknield Way at the foot of the Chiltern Hills.
Emily said: “The atmosphere on the march was upbeat and included a lot of youngsters who are worried for the future.
“All we’re asking for is the planning applications to be dealt with in an ethical and transparent manner, and without compromising everything that makes Pirton so special.”
The village is also home to an abundance of beautiful and protected flora, fauna and wildlife.
To find out more, look up the Pirton Action Group on Facebook, or follow it on Twitter using the handle @PirtonAction.