Harpenden residents speak out against overdevelopment

Harpenden Society public meeting

Harpenden Society public meeting - Credit: Archant

The people of Harpenden have spoken – and they’re overwhelmingly against excess development in the town.

Residents packed out the town’s Public Halls for a meeting called by The Harpenden Society to discuss the implications of likely proposals to build 9,000 houses in the St Albans district over the coming years.

Society chairman Chris Marsden asked for and received the audience’s approval for two key policy actions.

Firstly, that Green Belt land should only be released if the legal condition of “only in exceptional circumstances” was fully justified. Secondly, that recognition of the infrastructure shortfalls in any development would be acknowledged and decisively met.

The motion reflected an argument about the pressure on local facilities, such as roads and schools, and the value of the Green Belt by society spokesperson, Joanne Whitehead.

Other panellists speaking on the night included district council leader and planning portfolio holder Cllr Julian Daly, and Mike Peters, chief executive of developers Jarvis Homes.

Cllr Daly described the complexity of the problem faced by the district council and the need to produce a “defensible position” in response to demands from national government to build many more houses. Mike Peters described how, without an agreed Strategic Local Plan, developers would enjoy a free-for-all.

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Chris Marsden said afterwards: “We have done what we set out to do. We have given a chance to the people of Harpenden to hear from a local councillor, a local developer and our own representative about their views on the forthcoming Strategic Local Plan for the district. People came, they listened, they asked questions, they made comments, and then they gave their wholehearted support to how we should plan our future actions.”

What do you think? Have your say and email hertsad@archant.co.uk with your comments on the issue.