Who wants to live in "London Arc West"?

That’s how the Labour Government has chosen to lump St Albans and its villages together with all the neighbouring towns in its “Regional Spatial Strategy”. So much for 2000 years of history. They are proposing up to 100,000 more homes in Hertfordshire in less than 20 years. This must be at least 20 percent more homes than there are now.

The glory of Hertfordshire is the way that towns and villages have stayed distinct and separate, with fields and woods and open space disguising how densely populated it already is.

That’s what makes for the quality of life. People don’t want to live in mega-suburbia. But that’s what we’ll get if these proposals go through. The Government Report is a triumph of weasel words. The Green Belt is to be retained with the “exception of Hemel Hempstead, Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield where strategic Green Belt reviews will be undertaken.” What a wonderful word “strategic” is – think back to the “strategic” review of local health services and how that ended up.

Hemel and Hatfield are to be expanded – but only in the direction of St Albans and the villages. Indeed much of the new development will extend into the green belt within St Albans district boundaries. They talk about sustainability. But developing Hemel eastwards towards St Albans when Hemel Hempstead railway station is on its opposite western edge is barking mad. Likewise developing Hatfield westwards when its railway station is on its eastern fringe. This is not about sustainability but expediency. We are already the driest region in the UK, so where will water supplies come from without permanently killing the Ver and other local rivers. The inevitable traffic growth will lead to death by a thousand strangulations.

London Arc West? It’s enough to make anyone an An-arcist against the LAW. St Albans District Council is organising a public meeting at the High School and we need as many people and organisations as possible to turn up. Look at the Hertfordshire Society website - http://www.cpreherts.org.uk/ - for some good material. We all have to fight this lunatic vision and say “Hands off Herts!

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