Pressure on the Green Belt

THOUSANDS of extra homes will be built on Green Belt land around St Albans under development targets announced after a public inquiry.

While the panel considering the East of England Plan has upped the target for the St Albans district by only 200, it has agreed building on a massive scale in neighbouring Dacorum and Welwyn Hatfield.

District Councillor Melvyn Teare said: "There is going to be significant pressure on the Green Belt.

"It could be the urbanisation of a huge corridor.

"There is a significant danger in what is being proposed, and I know my colleagues will be fighting it tooth and nail.

"Where can you put 5,000 new homers in Welwyn Hatfield, and 5,000 in Hemel Hempstead?""

Hemel Hempstead will expand by 12,000 homes, nearly twice the figure of 6,300 in the draft plan, and the panel's report says much of this could be within the St Albans district, probably countryside on the outskirts of Redbourn.

development on green belt

Welwyn Hatfield's total has shot up from 5,800 to 10,000, raising the prospect of Hatfield expanding to Smallford through further development of the former British Aerospace airfield.

Hertfordshire's total has risen from 79,600 to 83,200, with the local increases balanced by striking out a proposed massive expansion of Harlow in the east of the county.

St Albans' original figure of 7,000, which local planning officers hoped could be met through urban development, has gone up to 7,200, although local homes built in the proposed expansion of Hemel Hempstead will not count towards this .

The panel's report, published after an inquiry which met between November and March and considered more than 21,000 responses to the draft plan, acknowledged the targets can not be met without a "strategic review" of the local Green Belt.

Once the housing figures are formalised and the Green Belt boundaries changed, it will be very difficult to fight future planning applications.

Critics are urging sympathisers, in a last gasp effort to save local countryside, to lobby the Government, which will issue an updated version in the autumn, subject to a further public consultation before formal adoption next spring.

Supporters of major development argue it is needed to ease housing shortages and make homes affordable for young people, but objectors point to increased traffic and the strain on water supplies as well as the impact on the countryside and wildlife., 29.06.2006

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