East Herts candidates urged to back pledge to review Gilston Villages scheme

Politics / Fri 28th Apr 2023 at 08:37am

COUNCIL election candidates across East Hertfordshire have been challenged to back a pledge to review the Gilston Villages development if they win their seats on May 4.

The giant 10,000 home project has been offered outline consent by the East Hertfordshire Council’s planning committee – but the decision has not yet been formally issued, pending agreement of further details with the developers.

The Hunsdon, Eastwick and Gilston Neighbourhood Plan Group (HEGNPG) wants the new councillors to take the opportunity for a fresh look at the scheme. The current proposals fail to match key parts of the Council’s own Local Plan policies as well as the award-winning neighbourhood plan the group created in cooperation with residents, the Developer and Council.

Candidates across the council area are being sent a pledge inviting them to make a commitment to support reviewing the plans if they are elected on May 4.

HEGNPG have also written to Communities Secretary Michael Gove urging him to call in the planning applications and ensure the development reaches appropriate standards on affordable housing, design, sustainability and respect for landscape which was previously classified as green belt.

Hunsdon, Eastwick and Gilston Neighbourhood Plan Group chairman Anthony Bickmore said: “It is not too late for East Herts Council to think again and make changes to the scheme so it respects the views of residents, keeps aligned with the Council’s Local Plan while reflects our award-winning neighbourhood plan.

“In agreeing to the applications the Council has reduced the number of affordable homes for East Herts families by over 1,700 which was one of their ambitions when they rolled back the Green Belt. The scheme is one of the largest releases of Green Belt in England.

“We have sent candidates of all parties an invitation to make this pledge ahead of the local elections on May 4 and we hope many will take the opportunity to support residents.

“Our group did everything asked of us to create a framework that delivers all 10,000 of the allocated homes in a sensitive way reflecting the Council and developers’ concept framework and with local support. This can be done and we urge candidates, council officials and the developers to work together on getting Gilston Villages right.”

Neighbourhood Plans were introduced as part of the Localism Act in 2011, with the government touting them as a vital tool to give communities more control over the type, location, size, pace and design of development in their area.

In the House of Commons last year, Mr Gove personally endorsed HEGNPG and its award-winning Neighbourhood Plan which was overwhelmingly endorsed by residents. He also warned developers they must ensure the “voice of local people is integrated more effectively into planning decisions”.

Planning law states that once approved at referendum, a Neighbourhood Plan has the same legal status as a Local Plan and comes into force as part of the statutory development plan.

The HEGNPG Plan also lays out the need for a mitigation of impacts on existing communities to ensure an integrated development. But under the developers’ scheme, residents will instead be cut off from any potential new bus services and also face competition for access to education, social services and healthcare for at least 5-10 years or even longer while the existing inadequate road infrastructure will be expected to cope as it is with improvements only being planned, in parts, after 3,500 new homes have been built.

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3 Comments for East Herts candidates urged to back pledge to review Gilston Villages scheme:

Neil Warner-Baker
2023-04-28 10:57:08

I do hope our present Harlow council endorse and encourage this. Because at present Our Council headed by Mr Perrin seems hell bent on pushing this development through whilst conveniently blaming Labour. Tree felling to facilitate this development of the Avenue of trees planted by Sir Gibbard has already began along 5th Avenue from the town centre to the train station roundabout...

Nicholas Taylor
2023-04-28 11:32:46

Harlow Council should but will not of course, withdraw support for this development whilst the Tories are in control. The last paragraph sums things up very clearly, undertakings given at the early stage in the planning process have been ditched. The greatest effect, except for those living in the new homes, will be on us, the residents of Harlow. Pressure on the health service and at PAH will dramatically increase, the towns roads will be gridlocked for longer and the competition for school places will increase.

Edward Vine
2023-04-30 09:00:29

Whist this plan effectively dumps ever higher volumes of traffic and emissions into the east of Harlow, destroys the natural nature reserve and chalk stream ecology of the Stort Valley, increasing flood risks and sewage discharges into Harlow homes (according to the Environment Agency and hggt pfps own consultants), causes valuable mature trees in Harlow to be cut down (ironically for a supposedly sustainable green road corridor that no one will use to get from Gilston estate to our run down town centre, that has just had Burnt Mill roundabout changed to a bicycle friendly design that's causing many more accidents where installed elsewhere in the region) and does absolutely nothing but dump on Harlow how can any of our Councillors continue to support it? Perhaps because previously the Council was sold a pig in a poke and the Conservative Party nationally apparently receives large donations from property developers? Discuss and vote accordingly.

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