Sir Mike Penning, MP for Hemel Hempstead, met with local residents to give his support to their campaign against a planning application for the construction of 390 dwellings and a residential care home on green belt fields west of Leighton Buzzard Road at Piccotts End.
The land subject to the planning application lies to the west of Leighton Buzzard Road, north of Galley Hill and is adjacent to land that preserves a historic archaeological site of a Roman villa.
The land acts as a ‘green lung’ between Water End and Hemel Hempstead and is well known as one of the last beauty spots enjoyed by nature in Hemel Hempstead.
It is home to protected red kites, herons, egrets, swallows and on occasions a pair of peregrine falcons which nest in the trees.
The River Gade, a chalk stream, runs along the bottom of the site and is a characteristic feature of the Chilterns and a valuable habitat for wildlife.
Sir Mike said: “I totally support this campaign. This is a vital green space, within the protected Green Belt, and overdevelopment here – on top of all the additional housing already planned around the edges of the town – is totally unnecessary. Quite simply, this would be a step too far and is one of those ‘over my dead body’ situations!”
A petition has been started by concerned residents, who predict a series of issues from the proposed plans, including noise, light and air pollution, increased gridlock along Leighton Buzzard road, and damage to the rare chalk stream and treasured wildlife sanctuary.
They also argue that the rapid development constitutes as “urban sprawl”. They contend this goes against the council’s own green belt policy, which states that development should only be considered “under exceptional circumstances”.
Angela Mitchell, organiser of the campaign, said: “I thank Sir Mike for meeting with us and for giving his unwavering support. We are very much encouraged and very grateful for all the support from the local community. I urge everyone to sign our petition to protect this unique and beautiful place.”
When contacted for comment, a spokesperson for the Dacorum Borough Council said: “As there is currently a live planning application before the Council for determination it would be inappropriate for the Council to comment at this stage.
“The Council will carefully consider the proposals and consider the views of residents before reaching a decision on the proposal.”
The petition can be found by visiting www.change.org/p/stop-building-on-our-green-spaces-land-west-of-leighton-buzzard-rd-nth-of-galley-hill