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Hertsmere’s draft Local Plan – Aldenham Parish Council’s letter to Oliver Dowden MP and his reply

17 December 2021

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Dear Mr Dowden,                                                             

We are writing to you to express Aldenham Parish Council’s grave concerns about the draft Hertsmere Local Plan and the effect the Plan would have on Hertsmere, and in particular the part of Hertsmere which the Parish Council represents, were it to be adopted. 

We appreciate the importance of having an up-to-date plan and the risks of not doing so. We also understand the complexities involved in preparing the draft Plan, the work undertaken by officers and Borough Councillors, and the requirements imposed on the Borough Council by Government targets and planning policy.

However, we strongly oppose key elements of the draft Plan, in particular the excessive number of new homes proposed, and the allocation of huge amounts of Green Belt land for housing and the consequential impact on the borough and wider afield.

We are sending you a copy of our comments which were submitted to Hertsmere Borough Council during their recent consultation. May we in particular draw your attention to the first page of the comments where we summarise our concerns.

One of the fundamental issues appears to be that Government has set housing targets based on 2014 estimates. Current trends suggest that those numbers will be reduced, and we understand that some councils have put their plans on hold pending the publication by the Government of new housing targets. Unfortunately, time is running out as the plans are required to be in place by 2023.

May we therefore ask that you, as our MP, encourage relevant Ministers and officials speedily to consider new housing figures based on more recent information so that meaningful progress on the draft plan can take place.

As you may be aware, there have been over 10,000 comments on the draft plan, which is a record for Hertsmere. We suspect that very few, if any, of the comments have been positive. A very large number of residents are deeply opposed to such a substantial amount of Green Belt land being destroyed. We hope that, with a reduction in housing need, the current proposals for a major diminution of the Green Belt can be amended.

With best wishes to you and your family for 2022.

Jackie Lefton and Estelle Samuelson

Joint Chairs

Aldenham Parish Council

On 7 Jan 2022

Dear Jackie and Estelle,

Thank you for sharing Aldenham Parish Council’s comments on Hertsmere’s draft Local Plan with me.

The Local Plan sets out the borough council’s planning strategy for at least the next 15 years, establishing the number of new houses to be built over this time period, where these will be built, and the planned infrastructure to go with them.   

The council ran a consultation on the draft plan from 11 October until 6 December and I was pleased that so many residents engaged with this and made their views known to the council. My main priority throughout the process remains ensuring that residents’ voices are heard and properly taken into account. 

I understand that the council will now consider the responses to the consultation before the draft plan is submitted to the Planning Inspectorate next year.

I was born and grew up in the local area and I know how precious our green spaces are. Many residents have raised their concerns about the effect of accommodating large numbers of new houses whilst maintaining protection of these green spaces and the distinct character of our towns and villages.   

While the contents of the Local Plan are wholly the responsibility of the council, it remains the case that much of the pressure comes from central government targets. I would like to reassure you that I am determined to continue my campaign to get the Housing Department to look again at its approach to Hertsmere. There should be more recognition of the fact that almost all the borough’s undeveloped land is green belt, meaning it is exceptionally hard for us to meet high targets for new building. There needs to be a greater emphasis on beauty and protecting the environment, getting infrastructure in place and respecting local democracy. I continue to engage the Housing Secretary on all these points as the Local Plan progresses.

I have also written to the county council to lobby for provision to be made for a new secondary school in Radlett and will continue to press for the delivery of new infrastructure to go alongside new housing over the years ahead.

The draft Local Plan can be viewed in full here: https://www.hertsmerelocalplan.com/site/homePage

Please be assured that I will follow all developments very closely and I am committed to ensuring residents’ voices are heard throughout the process.

Thank you again for taking the time to get in contact.  

Yours sincerely, 

Oliver 

The Rt Hon Oliver Dowden CBE MP 

Member of Parliament for Hertsmere

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