Leader of the Council, Councillor Morris Bright, has issued the following statement about the council’s proposals to develop Radlett’s Newberries Car Park:
“At Hertsmere Borough Council we take considerable pride in our enterprising approach to managing our assets for the benefit of our residents. As a key example, we own Elstree Studios and from those profits, 20 per cent of the council tax across the whole borough is subsidised.
Recently we have set up a development company to allow Hertsmere to invest in building in our towns and on our land in an effort to reduce housing issues across the borough.
The Government is getting rid of our major grant within the next three years and only those areas that can stand on their own feet financially will survive in their current form. Being entrepreneurial is in our DNA not just because we want it to be but because we need to be.
With that in mind, in January 2016 Hertsmere Borough Council discussed, debated and then unanimously agreed cross-party to proceed with drawing up plans to redevelop the Newberries Car Park site in Radlett – to both enhance the car park itself and the local retail offer for Radlett, while ensuring funds for the council to help pay for much-needed and well-regarded services in the future.
Whilst we pride ourselves in our enterprising approach we also strive hard to be an authority that engages with and listens to our residents and communities.
We have already taken a number of steps to communicate our plans and listen to views on this proposed project for Radlett but it has become increasingly apparent to me as the weeks progress that there is a growing concern about the plans for Newberries Car Park and that some residents feel they are having a development foisted on them and that the council is not listening to public opinion.
No matter how much confidence the council may have in a project, if we cannot receive buy-in from the local community in which such a development is proposed, then we need to take a step back and consider what needs to be done so that the needs and wishes of the council marry up with the majority view of those in the local community.
From meetings I have had and conversations I have held with colleagues, residents and other local parties, from emails and letters I have seen and received and reports back I have heard from local meetings held, I am convinced that Hertsmere Borough Council needs to put the current plans for Newberries Car Park on hold.
By doing so it will allow the focus to move away from opposition to a particular scheme and allow the council to come together with Radlett to work out what sort of project all sides could buy in to.
There have been several ideas mooted in recent times – all emanating from Radlett – as to what the land could be used for and I believe now is the time to harness those views by continuing a constructive dialogue with residents, businesses and business people to work on a series of proposals and choices to present to Radlett for everyone to have a chance to have a say as to what ultimately happens on the Newberries site.
To do that I will be forming a Newberries Car Park Development Group to comprise councillors and senior Hertsmere officers, together with Radlett representatives and other local interested parties. The group will comprise around 10 members who over the next 12 months will be charged with bringing together ideas for Newberries Car Park which can be examined, scrutinised, expanded and developed and for the best ideas to be put before residents for their views and choices. An essential aspect of any acceptable scheme will be to generate a constant income stream for the benefit of both Hertsmere Borough Council and Radlett.
The council’s current plan for the site which we are putting on hold can be one of those choices but it will be for Hertsmere and Radlett residents to decide together which of the choices it would like to move forward with.
I would like to thank all those people and groups who have been in touch with the council, locally-elected members and myself as Leader of the Council, on this issue. Please be assured we are indeed a listening council and that we will continue to listen and respect the views and needs of our towns and communities.”