'Council’s proposed Local Plan threatens to destroy over 850 hectares of Dacorum countryside' claim campaigners

The council extended the consultation on the Local Plan until February 28, to allow more residents to have their say
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A campaign group fighting to protect rural England has criticised Dacorum Borough Council’s proposed Local Plan, claiming it threatens to destroy over 850 hectares of countryside.

CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England) Hertfordshire is dismayed that the plan proposes building nearly 16,000 new homes in the Dacorum Borough.

At the end of November, Dacorum Borough Council (DBC) published a proposed new Local Plan.

Have your say on Dacorum's Local PlanHave your say on Dacorum's Local Plan
Have your say on Dacorum's Local Plan

The document entitled “Emerging strategy for growth 2020 – 2038” sets out the long-term strategy for development and growth in the borough, including details on the number of new homes to be built.

The group says if implemented, these proposals would result in the loss of a massive 850 hectares of Green Belt, the wider countryside and urban green space for development - the equivalent of 1,214 football pitches and would cause irreparable harm to the environment.

Green Belt land is threatened at Berkhamsted, Tring, Hemel Hempstead, Kings Langley, Bovingdon and Markyate.

Dacorum Borough Council is encouraging residents to have their say on the Local Plan and extended the consultation deadline until February 28.

The council wants as many people as possible to have their say on the consultation, to view the Local Plan click here.

The number of houses needed has been calculated using outdated data from 2014. Using more up to date information from 2018 would result in a housing need that is around half of that currently proposed in the plan.

CPRE Hertfordshire says that while new affordable homes are undeniably needed the plan as proposed fails to take full account of the opportunities to redevelop existing retail and commercial sites in the borough.

The council’s growth strategy also fails to address the climate emergency and the impact on infrastructure.

CPRE Hertfordshire has appealed to the council to reconsider the approach that they have taken in developing the plan. Instead of being developer led the plan should take an integrated approach that puts climate change, biodiversity, well-being and social inclusion at the centre of the plan.

Commenting on the proposed local plan “Emerging strategy for growth 2020 -2038” , Richard Bullen, chairman of CPRE Hertfordshire, the countryside charity, said: “We believe Dacorum Borough Council should develop a Local Plan using an integrated approach that puts climate change, biodiversity, well-being and social inclusion at the centre of the plan.

"We believe that planning is crucial to empowering local communities and making sustainable, liveable places.

"Ensuring everyone has an affordable home that meets their needs is essential to that, both in town and country.

"Equally, it is vital that new development is planned intelligently. Our countryside is precious and finite and urgently needs better management in the face of the climate and nature emergencies.

"Critical to this is that land is not lost to development unnecessarily. More new homes are undeniably needed and there is plenty of scope to use previously developed urban land (i.e., “brownfield”) to help address this need.”

A spokesperson for Dacorum Borough Council said: "We have published extensive background papers that support the approach taken in the Emerging Plan, including the Urban Capacity Assessment which identifies brownfield sites for development.

"However, as with many local authorities, it is not possible to meet the housing requirement for Dacorum set out in the Government’s Standard Methodology previously developed (“brownfield”) land alone.

"Whilst around two thirds of all the growth proposed is on previously developed land, on sites that already have planning permission or have been identified in previous Local Plans, around a third of new development is proposed on land currently in the Green Belt.

"We welcome comments from all residents and interested groups, and we have extended the consultation from the statutory six weeks to over 13 weeks until 23:59 on 28 February 2021 to allow this. You can comment online at www.dacorum.gov.uk/new-dacorum-local-plan.

"We look forward to engaging with the CPRE further on the Local Plan as it develops."

Dacorum Borough Council is encouraging residents to have their say on the Local Plan, you can submit your comments to the council by the February 28 deadline.

Comments can be submitted to by:

> Post: Strategic Planning, Dacorum Borough Council. The Forum, Marlowes, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire. HP1 1DN