Campaigners are urging council chiefs to take a tough stance against ‘overdevelopment’ in a town centre masterplan – fearing it could create gridlock if residents don’t speak up.
The Protecting Hemel group is calling on people in the town to respond to Dacorum Borough Council’s consultation on the Two Waters Masterplan, which will set the vision for the future of the area on land between the rail stations at Hemel Hempstead and Apsley, and the town centre.
Residents only have until Wednesday (August 16) to submit their views on the plan.
While acknowledging the need for more houses, the group fears that if the area is overdeveloped it could exacerbate current congestion woes.
Claire Collacott, a resident who is part of Protecting Hemel, said: “Anyone who cares about the future of our town needs to make sure they respond to the consultation so their voice is heard.
“Without a strong resident voice, we fear an inadequate plan that will leave the door open for overdevelopment that can never then be undone.
“We know from a survey we did last year that most local people do not want tall buildings in the area. The survey also showed that the London Road area is already bad for both congestion and pollution.
“We need a strong local plan, reflecting the wishes of local residents. The best way of doing this is by getting as many people to respond to the consultation and send a powerful message.”
The Masterplan does not yet state what kind of housing could be built, though it does say the area would be “better suited to a mix of apartment-led development with a number of houses.”
The council sees the Two Waters area as a key ‘strategic location’ to deliver the 756 new homes required each year up until 2036.
The Masterplan has already acknowledged some local opposition to high-rise buildings, and also states that the roads in the Two Waters area, including the Magic Roundabout, could come under ‘severe pressure’ by 2031.
Councillor Graham Sutton,cabinet member for planning and regeneration, said he welcomed any comments and input on both issues, and that they would help shape the final plan – which could come into force in 2019.
He said: “Once an authority gives people the opportunity to take part I believe people should take the chance to have their voice heard.
“We take all consultations very seriously and suggestions are always taken into consideration. We will make sure what we do is right for the town and right for residents.”
People can respond to the consultation on the council website, or in person at The Forum, in Marlowes.