HGBA December 16 Newsletter

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An Important Consultation

Members will be aware from our most recent newsletter that Mr David Hogger of The Planning Inspectorate has begun the process of deciding whether St Albans District Council’s draft ‘Strategic Local Plan’ (SLP) meets the requirements of planning law and planning practice.

Note that Mr Hogger is only examining a high level strategic plan which he may at some point in 2016/7 reject or approve.

Notwithstanding that the examination of St Albans District Council’s controversial draft high level SLP has only just started and that the SLP may eventually fail the test of ‘soundness’, your District Council has decided to go out to public consultation on the next stage of the planning process which is called ‘The Detailed Local Plan’ (DLP).

The draft DLP adds detail to the SLP. It contains, for example, planning policies, maps, the location of green belt boundaries and the design and layout of the proposed developments.

The Harpenden Green Belt Association hopes you will view the draft DLP by visiting the Council Chamber of Harpenden’s Town Hall on Wednesday 30 Nov from 10 am to 8 pm or on Thursday 1 December from 10 am to 8 pm. Council officials will be there to inform you, to answer your questions on what it means for Harpenden and to explain how you can respond most easily to the DLP consultation. 

A key issue for you to bear in mind is whether Harpenden could cope with the increase in the number of its residents which is being planned for by your District Council.

The latest estimates, as at April 2016, show that your District Council expects to see 1,040 new homes built within the Town and 500 built on farmed green belt land to the north alongside Luton Road.

At 2.5 persons per household, Harpenden will thus have an extra 3,850 residents.

Assuming 1.5 cars per household, we will have an extra 2,310 cars using not just the Luton Road but all the roads in Harpenden. We think that 2,310 is a minimum figure as the green belt site is on the very edge of Harpenden and new residents could well have two cars per household.

On top of those figures, there is the possibility that 900 homes will be built adjacent to the Luton Road on land controlled for planning purposes by Central Bedfordshire Council. The land in question is adjacent to the Luton Road going north towards the KInsbourne mini roundabout. Central Bedfordshire Council has advised your District Council in writing that it has a serious interest in developing the site. Harpenden Town Council has expressed  its concern about the situation in writing to your District Council but failed to receive a sympathetic reply.

And then there is the impact on Harpenden of the 2,500 new homes which are planned to be built close to Redbourn. Many of those new residents will gravitate to Harpenden for shopping and to use the train station. Existing resident do just that.

If traffic congestion and parking spaces are going to be major issues for residents of Harpenden, so is the location of new schools.

Both the SLP and the DLP envisage and support a new primary school close to the 500 houses to be built north of the Town with one possible location for the school abutting the very narrow Ambrose Lane which already has to cater for traffic visiting the Spire Hospital and traffic visiting an existing school. Ambrose Lane is also a ‘rat run’ for traffic trying to avoid congestion on the Luton Road and in parts is effectively one-way because of parked cars. It is simply amazing that Ambrose Lane can be promoted by your District Council as providing suitable access to another school. A quart into a pint pot comes to mind.

The consultation in the Town Hall is also your opportunity to tell the council officers what you think about the siting of a new secondary school for Harpenden and the surrounding villages. It is hoped to build the school on land on the southern edge of Batford close to the Lower Luton Road. The siting of the school is not without controversy.
Your District Council selected the sites in the District on which to build new homes at the beginning of the planning process and for political convenience rather than good planning reasons.

Now it has to prove in detail that the sites is has pre-selected are actually good planning choices and that Harpenden is not on the brink of being seriously damaged as a place to live.

Please hear what the planners have to say either on Wednesday 30 November from 10 am to 8 pm or on Thursday 1 December from 10 am to 8 pm in our Town Hall.

Your feedback to us on the answers they give would be welcome.

David Rankin
The Harpenden Green Belt Association
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