CASE Notice Board 2002
15 December 2002
On the morning of 28th December there will be a walk starting at Almshoebury. For details contact Paul Pinkstone at 01462 457660
8 December 2002
CALL IN SUSPENDED
In surprise move it has just been announced that the call in of the planning applications by John Prescott announced last month has been put on hold. The reason given is that it would be helpful to await the decision of the planning inspector in respect of Stevenage Borough Council Local Plan Inquiry.
This seems to mean that it is unlikely that any planning Inquiry will take place for at least a year. By this time the County Council's Structure Plan revisions will be in an advanced stage. It is hoped that these revisions will remove West of Stevenage from the County Structure Plan.
In the meantim North Herts County Council have informed CASE that the meeting scheduled for 12 December 2002 has been cancelled.
30 November 2002
JOHN PRESCOTT CALLS IN PLANNING APPLICATION
Earlier this month John Prescott "called in" the various applications for permission to develop West of Stevenage. The effect of this is that the decision as to whether or not to grant planning permission will be made by John Prescott and not by North Herts District Council and Stevenage Borough Council.
CASE have received the following letter from John Ironside of North Herts District Council explaining the position:
"I am writing to let you know that North Herts District Council and Stevenage Borough Council have received a letter from the Government Office for the East of England which 'calls in' the two planning applications currently before the Councils relating to the above site. This means that the Councils are no longer empowered to determine these applications. Instead they will be decided by the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Prescott.
It is the Government's intention is to deal with all four applications concurrently. A local public inquiry will be held on a date yet to be determined. The inspector who conducts the inquiry will then report to the Deputy Prime Minister.
The reasons given for these call-ins are that "the proposals may conflict with national policies on important matters and could have significant effects beyond their immediate locality." - 2 - All representations that have been received by both Councils will be forwarded to the Planning Inspectorate and copied to the applicant and will be taken into account by the Inspector and Deputy Prime Minister in deciding the applications.
Should you wish to withdraw or modify your earlier comments in any way, or request a copy of the appeal decision letter, you should write direct to the Planning Inspectorate, 3/17 Eagle Wing, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Temple Quay, Bristol, BS1 6PN, by the 19th December 2002. The appeal reference number is currently unknown, therefore please quote the above local authority reference number and Inspectorate Case Officer, Jennifer Saunders, in all correspondence. Three copies of correspondence are required. If representations are submitted after the deadline they will not normally be seen by the Inspector and will be returned.
If you wish to be heard at the forthcoming Public Inquiry you should contact the case officer as soon as possible. If you do send any further correspondence to the Planning Inspectorate I would be grateful if you could send a copy to North Herts District Council. I will ensure that any correspondence is copied to Stevenage Borough Council.
All relevant application documents (as amended) are available for inspection during normal office hours at the North Herts District Council Offices, Gernon Road, Letchworth. Documents are also available at Stevenage Borough Council Offices, Daneshill House, Danestrete, Stevenage. Please contact either Planning Department and make an appointment to ensure the documents are available, prior to your visit. The Planning Inspectorate has produced a booklet entitled "Guide to Taking Part in Planning Appeals". If you would like a copy (free), please contact these offices.
Both Councils have to submit statements of case to the Deputy Prime Minister. The current timetable means that these need to be submitted by the 19th December 2002. To meet that timetable North Herts District Councillors on the Southern Rural Committee will meet on 12th December 2002 at Knebworth Village Hall, Park Lane, Knebworth, SG3 6PD, at 8pm. If there is any change to this timetable I will let you know. If you would like details of the Stevenage Committee, please contact Adrian Knight at Stevenage Borough Council on 01438 242284."
CASE understand that the Public Inquiry refered to in this letter will not take place until sometime next summer. We have written to the Planning Inspectorate informing them that CASE wishes to participate in any Public Inquiry on behalf of the 7,000 members of the public who signed CASE objection forms and asking for details of how and when to respond. We will keep you informed of developments.
1st September 2002
County Council Consultation
The County Council are considering amending the County Structure Plan to remove the requirement to build any houses in the Green Belt to the west of Stevenage. They are undertaking a consultation on the proposals.
It is very important that CASE supporters actively participate in this process.
The detailed consultation document can be accessed at www.hertsdirect.org/structureplan.htm.
PLEASE PARTICIPATE IN THIS EXERCISE AS IT IS BY FAR OUR BEST CHANCE OF STOPPING ANY GREEN BELT DEVELOPMENT TO THE WEST OF STEVENAGE.
9th July 2002
At long last it does seem as if the tide has turned and that in the foreseeable future the threat of building 10,000 houses in the green belt to the west of Stevenage will be lifted.
On 18th July 2002 Hertfordshire County Council voted to go public consultation on a proposal to amend its County Structure Plan to remove all references to a strategic development to the West of Stevenage. Indeed the proposal goes further than this. The County Council have concluded on the basis of the urban capacity study they have carried out that Hertfordshire can meet its housing requirements for at least the next ten years without any greenfield development.
There will now take place a public consultation and with luck the proposal will be incorporated into the new Structure Plan which should be finalised some time in 2004.
However, nothing in this campaign is going to be easy. Those politicians who have been pressing for West of Stevenage have launched a furious spin campaign which is designed to convince the general public that these proposals will result in massive "urban cramming" and the destruction of nearly all green spaces in Hertfordshire's towns. The reality is of course very different, For example with regard to Stevenage (whose politicians are screaming the loudest) the proposal is that should find space for a mere 160 houses per year. This is only very slightly up what they would have had to find in any event in addition to West of Stevenage.
A further complication is that Stevenage is continuing to try to include 1000 houses to the west of the A1(M) in its local plan. This will be argued out at a public local plan Inquiry due to commence on 10 September. At present it would seem that Stevenage wants to "go it alone" and build 1000 houses on Stevenage land even if the balance of the development never takes place. At the Inquiry CASE will be arguing that this would be a nonsense and will be pressing to prevent this from occurring.
20th April 2002
You will have noticed that the web site has not been updated for some months. This is due to the hard drive crashing and wiping out all information with it. We're now up and running again, and promise to regularly update the site to keep you informed as to any new developments.
The present position with regards to the application for planning permission for 5000, alternatively 3600 houses, is that the developers are experiencing real problems with their traffic assessment. The model used by the developers to calculate traffic flows to and from the development was described by them as being "innovative". In our objections to the application, CASE pointed out that this model was seriously defective and greatly underestimated the potential traffic flows.
CASE's position on this has been adopted by Herts County Council, North Herts District Council and even the consultants employed by Stevenage County Council. As a result, the developers have been forced to effectively start again with this model. Initially, they maintained that this would result in a short delay. In fact as of today they have still not been able to get a working model that produces anything like the low traffic figures they require to establish that West of Stevenage will be a sustainable development.
In the meantime, the developers application for planning permission is effectively on hold. CASE understand that they are unlikely to come up with a new traffic assessment until June of July this year. When they do this, there will be a further opportunity to raise objections with regard to the amended traffic assessment. We will keep you informed.
At the same time, the County Council have been working on amending the County Structure Plan to bring it into line with current Government guidance. In particular, the Government require that all local authorities carry out a comprehensive urban capacity study to establish how much property can be built on brownfield and urban sites without any greenbelt or greenfield development.
Herts County Council commissioned a very detailed urban capacity study which established that any development West of Stevenage was unnecessary as there was more than adequate capacity within urban areas to meet Herts housing needs between now and 2015. Predictably, the District Councils and in particular Stevenage Borough Council have been challenging these figures. Stevenage still maintain that there is little room within the county for any further urban development without what they describe as "urban cramming". A considerable amount of negotiations and discussions have been going on between Herts County Council and the District Councils and it is hoped that a draft amended County Structure Plan will be issued in the near future for public consultation. CASE are hopeful that this amended County Structure Plan will make clear that a development to the West of Sevenage is not required in order for Herts to meet its housing needs.