The public meeting organised by St Albans District Council on Thursday 18 January to discuss the proposed massive increase of new homes in Hertfordshire was packed out.
This was remarkable given the appalling weather which meant that people travelling from London had great difficulty getting home. It proved the strength of feeling that there is a real and present danger that the government is setting out to destroy what makes our county and our district so special.
The completely feeble presentation at the meeting by the government officials from “Go-East” – the government office for the east of England – showed how weak are the arguments for the massive expansion of housing. One of the officials provoked howls of derisive laughter from the audience when he talked of hospital sites possibly becoming available for housing and therefore not taking green belt.
They admitted that there will be a major review of green belt. Again people were deeply unimpressed that they were to be “compensated” for loss of green belt round St Albans by new green belt being located north and west of Stevenage – that must be a great comfort to residents of Colney Heath, Redbourn and the other villages.
Robert Donald, leader of St Albans Council, made a passionate and articulate speech as did Kevin FitzGerald of the CPRE. The CPRE bullet points on key reasons to object can be accessed here.
Almost every member of the audience took the opportunity to wear a “Hands off Herts” lapel sticker. I stood up to challenge the government officials on why we should live in “London Arc West” and whether this was the forerunner of the London Borough of Hertfordshire?
I also asked what real investigation had been done on water supply when the current population is already putting the Ver and other rivers under great stress, and where was the sustainability of locating new development as far as possible from railway lines?
I was delighted that Anne Main and Roma Mills were also present and spoke out against the proposals. We have to approach this on an all-party basis. I will be working to promote and grow the “Hands off Herts” campaign over the next few weeks.
Please contact me if you want more information. The date for responses to the so-called consultation is March 9th – you can respond online here - and the more people who express their opposition the better.