Harpenden's pain

PUBLISHED: 13:20 01 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:30 06 May 2010

SIR — I hope as many people as possible found the time to respond to the district s Core Strategy Questionnaire. This was designed to shape our whole community over the next 15 years and onwards. Ignoring it all could mean that we will be landed with a

SIR - I hope as many people as possible found the time to respond to the district's Core Strategy Questionnaire. This was designed to shape our whole community over the next 15 years and onwards.

Ignoring it all could mean that we will be landed with a load of very ill-conceived and costly schemes and developments that will change our whole environment irretrievably in ways that many of us might find totally undesirable.

At the same time I make a plea for all councillors in our district just to try and look at this 'apolitically', and work in the interests of the community as a whole. Please put aside local differences.

Unfortunately I am reminded of that ill-judged and intemperate remark of one councillor from the south of the district, two years ago who said "Harpenden must share the pain".

This does not come across as a request for fair play but as a deep-rooted feeling of simply wanting to take a swipe at Harpenden. Can we not all work together just for once, for the good of us all?

Why is Harpenden so worried about one particular aspect of the possibly strategy?

It is the inclusion in it of a particular site for housing development (Area 8).

One of the fields in this area which is edged by Bloomfield Road, Ambrose Lane and Cooters End Lane is designated for 300 houses.

Any speculator or planner who has flown over the site and taken an aerial photo could easily say "Oh that's a nice site". But in reality it is far from it and a most impractical one.

Other correspondents have detailed many of the problems but as a reminder I would like to summarise some of these:

1. Pressure on local roads which I fear will lead to gridlock north of Harpenden and total congestion in the town centre. Will we then be forced into the cost of building a massive and unnecessary for that reason by-pass. All be prepared to pay for it;

2. Increased pressure on schools and a school provision already over-stretched;

3. Drainage in the Luton Road already is inadequate. Flooding occurs during downpours. Think of the effect of concreting over a large part of that hill and building 300 homes. A total rebuild of our drainage system will be required from the Town Centre to East Hyde;

4. The loss of well-farmed land in the Green Belt;

5. The precedent created that brings Harpenden closer and closer to Luton, where up to 5,000 extra homes are being proposed close to the county boundary. By 2050 we could be linked;

6. The statement that people can walk or cycle from Cooters End for their shopping is simply ludicrous.

This piece of land was originally excluded from the original Strategy by our planners for all the reasons above. However, it has now been brought back in, one fears as a very political decision.

In the same way as Harpenden should itself assist in opposing any ill-conceived proposal for development in other areas of our district, e.g. extra housing near Bluehouse Hill on the edge of St Albans, and take a positive view in supporting the enhancement of the city centre, the district as a whole should support Harpenden's concern to preserve the very well-being of a town that is so seriously threatened with an over-development which will not only have such a dreadful effect on the town itself, but would be a massive cost to the whole district itself when the infrastructure crumbles.

Over 2,000 written responses were sent to the town council rejecting the proposal. In normal market research terms this is a staggering response. These responses indicate the passion felt by the community on this issue, not just by those who live on the edge of the development but by the town as a whole right down to Southdown and beyond.

This is not "nimby" but simple common sense.

MICHAEL WEAVER

Harpenden Town Councillor

Clarence Road, Harpenden

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