Herts Ad Comment: Councils see sense over Radlett airfield?

STOCK Generic office

STOCK Generic office - Credit: Archant

At last, after years of this newspaper, politicians and pressure groups calling for the Radlett airfield site to be released for housing, the county council has finally done the right thing and proposed it is used for a 2,000 home garden village.

It is still too early to say whether this is the final nail in the coffin for the much-derided rail freight depot scheme, but it’s certainly reached the stage where we can start planning the funeral.

However, we would not have reached this stage had it not been for the combined efforts of HCC and SADC in finally recognising that this was the best option for the site, rather than unrealistically hope that it might remain Green Belt forever.

Previous district council leader Julian Daly refused point blank to entertain the idea of the airfield being used for housing, even though it was an obvious deterrent for the SRFI.

Fortunately things have changed at SADC, and the more forward-thinking approach of Cllr Mary Maynard resulted in a revised Local Plan which finally accepted the potential of killing two birds with one stone.

Not only would the proposed 2,000 home garden village soak up two-thirds of the housing shortfall identified by the LP, it would also mean the end of the rail freight scheme once and for all, as HCC could argue they would be better serving the financial interests of the county by releasing the land for housing.

What is also interesting as an aside to the main Radlett airfield announcement is the list of other sites which HCC has put forward for potential development.

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With the focus obviously on the rail freight depot land, it seems as though these other sites might have been overlooked. Not on our watch! We will be examining each of the seven remaining pockets of land in detail next week, just to see what HCC has slipped in under the radar, as it were...

With the call for sites closing this week, we’re also expecting to hear about any other potential developments across the district.

We have also seen the end of the six week consultation into the Local Plan, and unless there was a huge surge in the dying hours, the response is around the 2,000 mark. That is despite 60,000 leaflets being posted through doors, public exhibitions taking place across the district, and extensive publicity on social media.

So that’s pretty much it for the public having their say. There’s no point complaining about what happens next if you haven’t made the effort to comment during the consultation.

This newspaper has emphasised the importance of getting involved in this process since the new Local Plan was unveiled in January, and we would have expected a much higher response considering how controversial some of these proposed developments actually are.

There will be no point moaning in the years to come when houses start springing up around your neighbourhood, as the opportunity to get involved has now passed.

We look forward with interest to seeing how the Local Plan shapes up in the next few months, and what it will mean for the future shape of the district.