2,200 new homes for Harpenden?

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Dear Member

2,200 new homes for Harpenden?

As you know, the Harpenden Green Belt Association has consistently warned of the dangers of ill-thought through development in Harpenden, being rushed through by your District Council contrary to the wishes of residents and without regard to the capacity of Harpenden's creaking infrastructure to cope.

Those fears are now being realised in a very stark way.

Emboldened by the green light given by St Albans District Council to 500 homes on the Green Belt north of Harpenden, ("Site S5") one of the developers of that site is seeking to persuade Central Bedfordshire Council to allow it to build yet further on Harpenden's Green Belt. 

The additional land, which could accommodate about 900 homes, is shown below:

Central Bedfordshire Council has told St Albans Council that it is interested in pursuing this option as a possible way of providing for some of the 10,800 new homes which Luton is said to need, but which it cannot accommodate within its own boundaries.

As the land is in Central Bedfordshire, the only defence against its development is retention of the strategic gap that currently exists between the edge of Harpenden east of the A1081 and the district boundary. 

If this strategic gap is lost because S5 is developed for 500 houses, professional planners have described the prospect of the 900 additional homes being built in Central Bedfordshire, as "inevitable".

It will mean Harpenden taking in all some 2,200 new homes: 1,400 on the Green Belt and a further 800 within the "urban area", a much greater proportion than St Albans or Hemel Hempstead, relative to their existing sizes.

Development on this scale will sink Harpenden's infrastructure. Can you imagine,for example, what the traffic on the A1081 Luton Road will be like?

St Albans District Council has left itself in a weak position to resist Central Bedfordshire's development because it continues, in our view quite wrongly, to promote North West Harpenden as a "sustainable" location for development and has failed to carry out a proper assessment of the real impact on the town of building here.

Your Association firmly believes that the planning inspector who has to pass St Alban's plan will be interested to hear how far off reality St Alban's assessment of S5 is, and how little evidence there is to support the District Council's position.

Before matters move to the Inspector there is, however, a small window of opportunity for the District Council to put politics to one side, look properly at the planning merits and reflect the views of local people as repeatedly expressed in consultation responses.

That window comes next Tuesday, 14 June, when the District Council's ‘Planning Policy Committee’ meet, amongst other things, to decide whether the "scores" given to the various Green Belt sites should be changed. At the last meeting of the Committee the Vice-Chair was critical of the planners' attempts to get the scores nodded through, saying he saw nothing which addressed the criticism from residents and others of the assessment process. The Association has been a vocal critic of the scoring process, which we believe has been fixed to suit political ends.

What can you do?

Make sure your political representatives know your views - hold them to account if they don't stand up for Harpenden. You can:
  • Email the councillors who represent Harpenden on the Planning Policy Committee:
          Julian Daly (Leader of the Council and Chair of the Committee):

          Teresa Heritage
          Geoffrey Turner
  • Let Harpenden Town Council know that you support their efforts to keep these sites in the Green Belt. Email the Mayor, Nicola Linacre
  • Come along to the meeting: it's at 7pm on Tuesday 14 June in the Council Chamber at St Alban's Council, Civic Centre, St Peters Street, St Albans AL1 3JE.
It would really help the Association if you would forward this email to those you know who live in Harpenden and who may not know what is going on in your District Council.

Please ask your friends to forward the newsletter on to those they know.
And if your friends want to make their voice heard by the Inspector, encourage them to join the Association – it’s free! Email

David Rankin
The Harpenden Green Belt Association
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