Harpenden homes

PUBLISHED: 12:07 22 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:33 06 May 2010

SIR – In your edition of October 8, a Harpenden resident says that he is in favour a new development of 300 houses on the northern edge of Harpenden. He sketched out in his letter how Harpenden has expanded since 1946 and expressed the view that with reg

SIR - In your edition of October 8, a Harpenden resident says that he is in favour a new development of 300 houses on the northern edge of Harpenden.

He sketched out in his letter how Harpenden has expanded since 1946 and expressed the view that with regard to matters like schools and water supply everything in the past 'automatically dropped into place, as it will again'.

For the last six years, I have followed the development of the so-called East of England Plan in detail. It is this plan that has imposed very high housing targets on district councils like our district council and which led to the thought that Harpenden could possibly take 300 houses on its northern edge.

If your correspondent believes that we should let the houses be built and that everything will be fine on the night, he should read on.

The East of England Plan was compiled in a rush by the East of England Regional Authority who in the end and somewhat amazingly, never actually gave support to their own plan.

The plan was taken over by central government who drove it forward at pace, notwithstanding that major issues, like who was going to pay for all the necessary infrastructure, remained unanswered.

No thought was given to the fact that concentrating all future growth in the south east would simply attract more people from the north and create an even bigger demand for houses.

No thought was given either to coordinating what Bedfordshire might build with what Hertfordshire might build even though the roads, the railways and people are not constrained by county barriers.

In the rush to get anything done which looked broadly feasible on the surface, the word 'sustainability' was soon lost in the charge for headline-grabbing housing targets. The result has been a planning disaster to match anything this country has ever experienced.

On a local level and at the last count, 2,050 residents in Harpenden responded recently to Harpenden Town Council to say that not only did they not want building on the Green Belt around the town but they did not believe that the town could cope with an extra 300 houses.

They clearly do not share your correspondent's view that everything would be fine on the night with regard, for example, to the provision of extra schools places and the impact on traffic flows in the town of (say) 600 extra cars.

The fact is that Harpenden has reached a 'tipping point' in terms of a good place to live. Pile any more into the town and we will all want to live somewhere else.

Your correspondent might like to note that both main opposition parties have pledged to abandon The East of England Plan if voted into Government. Closer to home, the present Government's ludicrously unrealistic, unaffordable and unsustainable housing targets are not supported by your correspondent's county council, his district council or Harpenden Town Council.

He may take some comfort from the fact that four other residents in Harpenden responded to the Town Council to say that they supported the building of 300 new houses in Harpenden.

If he was one of the four, only three residents share his view. Something perhaps for him to reflect on before he next puts pen to paper.

And if he wants to know what an independent town planner thinks of the proposal to load onto Harpenden 300 extra houses, he will find all he needs to know on why it simply would not work in two reports on Harpenden Town Council's website.

Your correspondent really should read what is on the website.

If he subsequently has some viable ideas on how to protect Harpenden from grinding to a halt he should let us all know.



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