20th October 2014 Public Meeting

The likely effect of the national housing crisis on Harpenden causes all serious minded citizens furiously to think. The furrowed brow rather than the cheery grin was thus the main feature on the countenance of the audience that attended The Harpenden Society hosting of a meeting to discuss this subject. Over 300 people crammed into the public hall on Monday 20 October to listen attentively to  a long explanation by Councillor Julian Daly, leader of the St Albans and District Council and its planning portfolio holder, on why it is being proposed in the draft Strategic Plan to build 9000 housing units in the district over the next twenty years, 5000 on brown field sites and 4000 on green belt locations. It amounts to an average of 436 new homes every year. Councillor Daly was accompanied by Chris Briggs, a senior council officer.
For fully an hour and a half under the expert and fair-minded control of The Society's chairman, Chris Marsden, members of the audience raised a battery of wide-ranging questions and comments, from the knotty legal, technical and demographic intricacies to more heartfelt pleas about the town's capacity to cope with so heavy a building programme. Appropriate to the mood of the evening these points were made quietly, courteously and without rancour. Councillor Daly replied in like tones, although there was a derisory and incredulous flavour about the reaction to his assertion that the traffic on the main road through Harpenden had slackened of late. However, as Councillor Daly constantly reiterated, the draft plan may only be amended by the provision of strong evidence, not anecdotal or emotional sentiment.
And this the Chairman of The Society promised to do.