Harpenden homes

PUBLISHED: 12:05 15 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:33 06 May 2010

SIR – I note the relative deluge of correspondence to your paper complaining about the temerity of St Albans District Council in suggesting a site in Harpenden for future housing as part of the consultation exercise on the Core Strategy. I think this demo

SIR - I note the relative deluge of correspondence to your paper complaining about the temerity of St Albans District Council in suggesting a site in Harpenden for future housing as part of the consultation exercise on the Core Strategy.

I think this demonstrates a level of nimbyism for which Harpenden has become quite rightly infamous. If the letter writers looked at the whole of the document they would notice that the vast majority of the sites identified as possible housing sites are in fact to the south of the district where our Green Belt is so much more under threat and, I would argue, more precious.

The primary purpose of the Green Belt is to provide separation between settlements. The most cursory glance of a map of the district will show that the settlements south of St Albans, Colney Heath, London Colney, Park Street, Chiswell Green, Bricket Wood, are separated by no more than a few fields whilst there is a significantly greater degree of separation between Wheathampstead, Harpenden, Redbourn, etc.

We can all bemoan the relentless pressure put on us by central government for additional houses. However, this is not going to change the fact that governments of all persuasions continue to demand additional housing.

We should therefore look sensibly at the whole district and decide on firstly whether we prefer infilling such as back garden development over Green Belt releases.

If we decide that we wish to preserve our existing suburban layouts, we should look to sites where development within the green belt causes the least damage to the objectives that the green belt was originally designed to achieve.

DAVID PARRY

Park Street Lane, Bricket Wood

SIR - I refer to Geoff Ackroyd's letter (Herts Advertiser, October 8). I know Mr Ackroyd and normally defer to his opinions on local matters. He is older than me and has lived in Harpenden all his life, whereas my wife and I have lived in the town for a mere 48 years.

I can see his point of view on the need "to house the many who wish to have a home of their own". That implies first-time buyers looking for so-called affordable housing. The likelihood of any development in the Luton Road-Cooters End Lane-Ambrose Lane-Bloomfield Road quadrangle being built with first-time buyers in mind seems fanciful, at a time when developers are all too aware of Harpenden's attractions for "executive incomers" with a million pounds or more to spend.

Geoff I know is an honourable man. But that does not stop me asking the following questions. Would he be as sanguine about the proposed development on that North Harpenden field if he still lived - as he did 40 odd years ago - in Roundwood Lane, only 100 yards or so from the site under threat?

And what would be his reaction to a hypothetical proposal to build 300 houses on the Green Belt agricultural land adjacent to his present abode, an idyllically-situated farm cottage at Hammonds End, far away from the hurly-burly of A1081 traffic and pestilential helicopters flying in and out of Luton Airport?

ALAN BUNTING

Ridgewood Drive, Harpenden

SIR - Your correspondents (apart from Geoff Ackroyd, Letters, October 8) make much of the possible implications of the development in 17 or more years time of land belonging to Action for Children between Bloomfield Road and Cooters End Lane in Harpenden.

We are told that 300 extra homes will cause intolerable traffic problems, overcrowd our schools and lead to floods and water shortages.

Strangely there has been no such protest about the 300 or more homes built in Harpenden since 2001, as these have been separate developments in different parts of the town. More schemes are being built now, such as the gated mansions off Sauncey Avenue and the developments in Crabtree Lane.

Naturally those whose homes overlook the Luton Road site will regret the loss of their view, as have many residents in the past fifty years as pieces of open land have been developed.

On the other hand, the charity Action for Children, the successor to the National Children's Home, would be able to put the money to good use across the country. There will be plenty of time in 17 years to plan school needs and, with the impending shortage of oil in coming decades, who can say what traffic densities will be like? If the homes are to be genuinely affordable there may be fewer cars per household and more demand for public transport.

However, 2026 is a long way ahead and there are people now in need of affordable homes in Harpenden.

There are low-paid public sector workers who have to commute long distances rather than be housed near their place of work. There are adult children still living with their parents who would prefer the option of a home of their own.

Separating couples pose extra demands for housing, as do, in the long run, families with three or more children. And as the elderly are living longer, fewer homes are coming onto the market for the next generation.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the future Luton Road scheme, we need affordable housing now.

GAVIN ROSS

Connaught Road, Harpenden

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