Hertsmere MP Oliver Dowden convened with Hertsmere Borough Council’s planning department to discuss the latest stage of the new Local Plan, and to make clear to them the concerns of residents about the proposals.
Mr Dowden met with the borough councillor responsible for planning, Cllr Harvey Cohen, head of planning & economic development, Aiden Waite, and the planning policy manager, Mark Silverman.
The borough council are in the process of updating Hertsmere’s Local Plan, the document that will shape building in the area for the next few decades. The latest stage, published in October last year, sets out all the potential sites that have been offered to the council.
However, only a proportion of them will actually be used and therefore the council opened the proposals up to the public and asked for comments on which ones would be most appropriate for development. The engagement period ran from October to the end of December 2018.
Speaking after the meeting Mr Dowden said: “Many people have written to me about the Local Plan over the past few months. It was therefore crucial to meet with the council to make sure they understand and listen to residents’ concerns.
“In my meeting, I stressed three things. First, the council must consult with residents at every stage to ensure they understand the process.
“Second, development must not be at the expense of what makes our area so special, in particular the distinct charm and character of its individual towns and villages, and the open space between settlements preventing urban sprawl.
“Finally, I have also been clear that new housing must be matched by new infrastructure, including schools, healthcare facilities and transport links. This is something I repeatedly raise with other concerned agencies, including the county council and the Clinical Commissioning Group.
“I therefore have grave concerns about many of the sites. I will continue to raise these on behalf of my constituents and am reassured the council has clarified that most of these sites will not ultimately proceed to development.
“However, these are rightly decisions that have to be made by the borough council and I do not want to pre-judge the correct consultation process that they are going through. I also understand that the council has to build new homes for our children and grandchildren.”
The council is now in the process of analysing the thousands of responses they received before publishing the next stage of the plan, setting out which sites are being considered in greater detail at the end of this year.