Villagers blast Dacorum Borough Council's approach to policy over LA3 approval

Bourne End Village Association has criticised Dacorum Borough Council's approach to local and national policies in relation to the LA3 site.

Tuesday, 28th July 2020, 11:55 am
Updated Tuesday, 28th July 2020, 11:58 am

The LA3 development will lead to an additional 900 to 1200 homes which will result in increased traffic in the area.

In December the LA3 scheme for 1,100 new homes was passed by the development committee.

“Well, they said ‘it’s just a matter of opinion," this, claims John Mawer of BEVA (Bourne End Village Association), is the response of Dacorum Borough Council planning officers when quizzed about the apparent abandonment of local and national policies in regards to LA3 approval.

Traffic on Chaulden Lane

“I wonder if they’d take the same approach to every personal planning application?” John added.

When announcing DBC’s current planning policy, Andrew Williams, the leader of the council, stated ‘If there are any big sites identified, then gypsy and traveller sites should be part of that development, not bolted on the edge of existing communities.’

“There is a reason for this”, says John, “It’s not an accident, and fits with the national policy issued in 2015.

The view is backed by government advisers who have told him, ‘The Government takes the issue of inclusion for the Gypsy and traveller community very seriously’.

As an ex teacher John fully grasps the need to reduce alienation and provide proper access to the new facilities and community in which the traveller community is sited.

He is dismayed by the current approach by Dacorum Borough Council in throwing public policy under the bus.

“If you think about what might happen a few years down the road, it’s scary stuff; building resentment and ghettos. The policies are deliberately there to avoid this.”

But the most immediate worry from residents of Bourne End is the impact on the existing traffic situation.

The association is concerned by the increase in traffic as a result of widening the road and the traveller site access in relation to the communities of Winkwell and Pouchen End.

The LA3 development will lead to an additional 900 to 1200 homes which will result in increased traffic in the area.

The scheme, which dates back to 2013, has been criticised over its education, healthcare, environmental impact and traffic provision for the huge influx of new residents.

For some time, Bourne End Village Association (BEVA) has expressed concerns regarding the rural lanes in the vicinity of Bourne End.

Increasingly, the lanes in this area are being used as “rat runs” from the western side of Hemel Hempstead to the A41 intersection at Bourne End.

They believe Widening Chaulden Lane will make the situation worse and encourage 'rat runs'.

Paul Evans, of Bourne End, said: "When I moved into Bourne End four years ago, I couldn’t believe the chaos at Winkwell.

"A stream of traffic pouring over a tiny, single carriage swing bridge, all heading to and from the A41.

"It’s dangerous. You have to ‘leg-it’ if you want to go to the Three Horse Shoes pub.

"The idea of widening Chaulden Lane, are you mad? Somebody is going to get seriously hurt there."

Mike Pritchard points out the implications for the new 56 house development in Pix Farm Lane where he lives.

He said: "Access to public transport and the main roads is through Winkwell. With the impact of LA3, Dacorum will make a terrible situation worse."

Mike also points out that the Chaulden Lane widening is in breach of Hertfordshire’s Highways policy, which protects rural lanes, and promotes use and safety of cyclists and pedestrians.

He added: "Widening Chaulden Lane increases both the ability for speed and volume of traffic.

"With LA3 adding significantly to ‘rat run’ traffic this will increase the danger and car-based journeys.

"This is despite both councils declaring a climate emergency.

"Again DBC appear to have ignored the impact and the policies."

But residents of Bourne End are not alone, both West Hemel Action Group (WHAG) and Dacorum Environmental Forum (DEF) say they have received equally dismissive responses from DBC when raising issues of policy, safety, the environment and climate crisis.

BEVA claims that there is evidence that there has never been an intention to make the traveller site inclusive to the development and a steer from unnamed councillors has encouraged its exclusion.

John Mawer said: "The officer report presented to the Development Management Committee makes no mention of the relevant national policy.

"We must conclude the members who made the decision were ill informed."

Charlie McMurdie, chair of BEVA, said: "We have called for a thorough external investigation. If our council starts abandoning policy we will all be the losers."

A spokesperson for Dacorum Borough Council said: “Government policy requires local authorities to make provision for the accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers, and for new sites to be located where residents have good access to local services.

"Dacorum Borough Council included two sites in its adopted Core Strategy of 2013, one of which is land at West Hemel Hempstead (site LA3).

"The suitability of this site was tested by an independent planning inspector as part of the examination of the proposals in 2012.

“Developers Barratt David Wilson and Taylor Wimpey have brought forward proposals for the development of site LA3 for new housing (1100 new homes) and a Gypsy and Traveller site, located off Chaulden Lane.

"The proposals were considered at the meeting of the Council’s Development Management Committee in November 2019, including the suitability of the road access with input from Hertfordshire County Council as highway authority.

"Subject to some changes to Chaulden Lane, including the provision of passing places, the proposals were considered to be acceptable.”