Meeting: 21 April, Rothamsted at 8.00pm

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Dear Harpenden Green Belt Association member,

My last email to Harpenden Green Belt Association Members was on 6 March. I hope you had a chance to read it.

I mentioned in my email that The Harpenden Society has invited all residents to question our five parliamentary candidates on the future for Harpenden in the context of St Albans District Council's attempts to draft a 'Strategic Local Plan'. The Plan is the most important and controversial issue ever considered by your District Council. 

I hope you will attend the meeting which will take place on Tuesday 21 April at Rothamsted
Conference Centre, 7.30 pm for 8 pm.

Please book your place at 

Each parliamentary candidate will make a 7 minute statement before the session is opened up for questions from the floor.  

The focus will be on local issues concerning the future of Harpenden.

Your District Council’s 'Strategic Local Plan' is currently in draft form. It is viewed in planning terms as ‘unsound’ by amongst others, planners in the Highways Agency, Hertfordshire County Council and The Campaign to Protect Rural England.

Some key issues for Harpenden residents are creaking infrastructure including schools (we do not have enough capacity for children already living in Harpenden let alone newcomers), health and services (GP services are bursting at the seams), road congestion (not only on the Luton Road and the Lower Luton Road but within Harpenden too) and ever decreasing parking spaces in the centre of the Town. 

Peter Lilley will be present at the meeting and he and his views are well known to me.
  • He is likely to say that we have to have a 'Strategic Local Plan' in place as soon as possible or profit hungry developers will take over and decide what is built and where. Even if that is a defensible observation, what we actually need to have in place is a Plan which is not the current 'evidential dog's breakfast 'mentioned in my last email.  
  •  See as to why your District Council is well on its way to producing an ill thought out Plan. The Plan process is being driven forward as much by local political considerations as planning considerations. It pays little attention to the needs of existing residents and is set to become a nightmare for Harpenden.
  •  Advised by your District Council planners and the Leader of the District Council, Julian Daly, Peter will no doubt say that traffic congestion on the Luton Road through Harpenden is not a problem and it is not going to be. Those comments do not have the support of either the County Council (as our local highways authority) or the Highways Agency (which is responsible for the strategic road network). It is a highly debatable observation in the context of the District Council's wish to build up to 1,300 new homes in Harpenden and the number of extra cars that such development will bring. Note that the planners have not counted the cars currently being driven on the suburban roads in Harpenden. Those roads are already extremely busy and what Harpenden will be like with (say) an extra 2,000 cars being driven around the Town by new residents, I leave for your imagination.    

    The planners in your District Council may know where new residents will park in the centre of town but I do not. 
  • Neither have the District Council planners assessed what the impact will be on Harpenden of the building of 2,500 new homes next to Redbourn. Is there anybody in Harpenden who thinks that a very high proportion of those new residents will not be using Harpenden's train station or driving into and through Harpenden or trying to park in Harpenden for shopping? Is there anybody who thinks that the doubling of passengers at Luton Airport will have no impact on the Luton Road and the Lower Luton Road?  
  •  Peter will certainly say that the rate of net immigration into the UK means that we have to build and build but the question is at what point will the demand be satisfied?  Demand for accommodation in a desirable town like Harpenden is in fact insatiable. And if the idea is to provide 'affordable' accommodation in Harpenden, estate agents in Harpenden say that buyers from London are able to outbid local residents and are doing so.  

     I struggle to think of any benefit to existing residents of building at least 500 houses on the green belt that surrounds Harpenden and a further 800 houses within the Town over the Plan period. 

  •  In the context of 'over building', Luton is seeking space to build. Going north out of Harpenden on the Luton Road, Hertfordshire is but one and one half fields from Bedfordshire..............
In the 12 years that I have spent  monitoring St Albans District Council's  attempts to produce a local plan, the most stunning comment was from one District Councillor who said in an open session that she wanted to see 'Harpenden take some pain'. Many other District Councillors would have some sympathy with that view. Residents of Harpenden are perceived as 'privileged'. 

But one thing has changed since I last emailed you.

Your District Council is now having to consider building an extra 4,000 homes on green belt after recently receiving revised figures from central government on ‘future housing need’. Quite where all those houses are going to go must be worrying the great majority of  District Councillors who, hitherto have been quietly content to see Harpenden, Redbourn and Smallford shoulder the burden of over development rather than the particular area they represent.  

Please forward this email to as many Harpenden residents as you can.

They can join the Harpenden Green Belt Association and be kept informed at  

There is no membership fee or political affiliation.

David Rankin

Deputy Chairman
The Harpenden Green Belt Association

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