A packed meeting in Harpenden on Thursday 12 June unanimously agreed a motion to protect against excess development in the town.
The meeting was called by The Harpenden Society to discuss the implications of likely proposals to build 9,000 houses in the St Albans District over the coming years.
Chris Marsden, Chairman of The Society, asked for and received the audience's approval for two key policy actions. Firstly, that Green Belt land should only be released if the legal condition of ‘only in exceptional circumstances' was fully justified. Secondly, that recognition of the infrastructure shortfalls in any development would be acknowledged and decisively met. The motion reflected the argument about the pressure on local facilities, such as roads and schools, and the value of the Green Belt by The Society spokesperson, Joanne Whitehead. Her concise analysis and proposals were greeted with prolonged applause.
The other panellists included Councillor Julian Daly, Leader of the District Council and planning portfolio holder, and Mike Peters, CEO of Jarvis Homes. Cllr Daly described the complexity of the problem faced by the District Council and the need to produce a ‘defensible position' in response to demands from national government to build many more houses. Mike Peters described how, without an agreed local development plan, developers would enjoy a free-for-all.
The discussion included time for questions and answers which attracted a strong interest in infrastructure issues such as the pressure on water supply.
Chris Marsden said “we have done what we set out to do. We have given a chance to the people of Harpenden to hear from a local councillor, a local developer and our own representative their views on the forthcoming Strategic Housing Plan for the District. People came, they listened, they asked questions, they made comments, and then they gave their wholehearted support to how we should plan our future actions.”