Threat to neighbouring Green Belt land from Dacorum Local Plan
- Credit: Archant
Thousands of acres of Green Belt land on St Albans' doorstep are at risk from development.
The new Local Plan proposed by Dacorum Borough Council (DBC) threatens to destroy over 850 hectares (2,100 acres) of countryside - the equivalent of 1,214 football pitches - with 16,000 new homes.
Green Belt land is threatened at Berkhamsted, Tring, Hemel Hempstead, Kings Langley, Bovingdon and Markyate under DBC's development blueprint for the period up to 2038.
But countryside charity CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England) Hertfordshire says the plan has been calculated on outdated data from 2014, and fails to take into account the redevelopment of existing retail and commercial sites in the borough.
Chairman Richard Bullen said: “We believe that planning is crucial to empowering local communities and making sustainable, liveable places. Ensuring everyone has an affordable home that meets their needs is essential to that, both in town and country.
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"Equally, it is vital that new development is planned intelligently. Our countryside is precious and finite and urgently needs better management in the face of the climate and nature emergencies.
"Critical to this is that land is not lost to development unnecessarily. More new homes are undeniably needed and there is plenty of scope to use previously developed urban (brownfield) land to help address this need.”
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Hemel MP Sir Mike Penning does not think there is enough brownfield land available: “The need for more local housing is by far the biggest issue my office deals with on a daily basis. We all understand that we need more homes in Dacorum of all types whilst, at the same time, protecting our local green environment.
"Unfortunately, there is not ‘plenty of scope’ to use brownfield sites. In recent years the council has used more and more inventive ways of freeing up previously-built-on land. Certainly, brownfield sites should be prioritised, but sadly there just aren't enough."
St Albans district council leader, Cllr Chris White, believes housing targets need to be reassessed: "All district councils in Hertfordshire are under huge pressure from central government to meet housing targets despite the extent of the Green Belt.
"The only way to lessen this pressure is for the government to reassess housing targets. If they won't - as still seems likely - then there will need to be massive funding for the transport links, schools and NHS facilities that will go with these new homes."
Daisy Cooper, MP for St Albans, said: “Residents are now starting to seeing the impact of the Conservative government’s housing targets on our Hertfordshire Green Belt.
“I’m proud that neighbouring Liberal Democrat-led St Albans district council have declared a climate emergency, have launched more than a hundred climate actions and will build new homes that are climate-ready.
"I would urge my constituents who live in Dacorum borough to demand similar levels of ambition from their council and respond to the public consultation by February 28.”
A spokesperson for Dacorum Borough Council said although their had identified brownfield sites for the development, it was not possible to meet the housing requirement for Dacorum set out in the Government's Standard Methodology using previously developed land alone.
"The Local Plan proposes that around two thirds of all the growth in the borough is on land already allocated for development in previous Local Plans, already has planning permission or is on previously developed land. This means that around a third of new development will need to come forward outside of existing urban areas.
"We welcome comments from all residents and interested groups, and we have extended the consultation from the statutory six weeks to over 13 weeks until 11.59pm on February 28to allow this. You can comment online at http://www.dacorum.gov.uk/new-dacorum-local-plan"