Emmy Award winning film-maker joins fight against Green Belt homes near St Albans
PUBLISHED: 06:00 31 August 2016 | UPDATED: 17:27 26 September 2016
The raw beauty of prime Green Belt land earmarked for destruction features in a poignant video by a film-maker more accustomed to creating music videos for stars like Elton John and Celine Dion.
When Emmy Award winning film-maker Nick Morris heard that 1,130 homes could be built at Symondshyde, between St Albans, Wheathampstead and Hatfield, he leapt into action, creating the film to highlight the site’s beauty.
The Wheathampstead man is supporting local campaign group ‘Save Symondshyde’ which has been fighting the contentious scheme - now a step closer to coming to fruition after its inclusion in the Welwyn Hatfield borough council’s draft Local Plan.
An eight-week period of public consultation on the plan begins next Tuesday, August 30, and those opposing the council’s inclusion of the prime agricultural land for a proposed satellite village are urging people to have their say and save the land.
Describing the development as “slicing through the countryside”, Nick said he disagreed with the council’s quest for urban expansion onto the site via the draft planning blueprint.
He said that campaigners were “a large group of concerned members of the public who are fighting to stop the destruction of this beautiful countryside, which represents unspoilt Green Belt at its best and provides the ‘green lungs’ for residents in nearby cities, towns and villages.
“I thought that it was important for people to see, through this video, just how special this area is and how important it is to prevent urban sprawl.”
Nick’s aerial footage of the unspoilt, 140-acre Green Belt land, owned by Gasgoyne Cecil Estates, features an apology to his future grandchild in a poignant “Letter to my Grandson” where Nick laments “letting them build a village in the middle of it all”.
Campaign chairman John Gardner said: “This piece of Green Belt land is a critical natural asset, providing a valuable amenity for local people and a critical role in maintaining separation between existing towns and villages.
“This proposal would punch a hole of urban development into the heart of the Green Belt, and is entirely at odds with core principles in the National Planning Policy Framework [the Government’s planning guidelines].
“The council’s approach to consultation about this proposal has been woefully inadequate and many people in the area are completely unaware of these plans.”
St Albans’ own independent cinema, The Odyssey, has added its weight behind the bid to stop the land from being turned into houses, by screening Nick’s video over the next few weeks to help raise awareness of the council’s plans.
Manager Anna Shepherd told the Herts Advertiser: “The Odyssey will show it through September because it’s a local community issue, and we want to give a voice to the campaign.”
Go to https://vimeo.com/178481475 to see Nick’s film.
• The draft local plan is a blueprint for future growth in Welwyn Hatfield until 2032, allocating sites for just over 12,000 new homes including at five strategic sites, such as the Symondshyde proposal, called HAT15 in the document.
• Consultation events are being held from today, August 31 until October 5, and representations must be submitted by 5pm on Monday October 24. Further details can be found at www.welhat.gov.uk/localplan